Security Risks of TSA PreCheck

Former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley wrote an op-ed pointing out the security vulnerabilities in the TSA's PreCheck program:

The first vulnerability in the system is its enrollment process, which seeks to verify an applicant's identity. We know verification is a challenge: A 2011 Government Accountability Office report on TSA's system for checking airport workers' identities concluded that it was "not designed to provide reasonable assurance that only qualified applicants" got approved. It's not a stretch to believe a reasonably competent terrorist could construct an identity that would pass PreCheck's front end.

The other step in PreCheck's "intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy" is absurd on its face: The absence of negative information about a person doesn't mean he or she is trustworthy. News reports are filled with stories of people who seemed to be perfectly normal right up to the moment they committed a heinous act. There is no screening algorithm and no database check that can accurately predict human behavior -- especially on the scale of millions. It is axiomatic that terrorist organizations recruit operatives who have clean backgrounds and interview well.

None of this is news.

Back in 2004, I wrote:

Imagine you're a terrorist plotter with half a dozen potential terrorists at your disposal. They all apply for a card, and three get one. Guess which are going on the mission? And they'll buy round-trip tickets with credit cards and have a "normal" amount of luggage with them.

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path, but it rarely works out that way. You have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to take the low-security path.

The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That's simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding US citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are normal, nondescript people. Intelligence reports indicate that Al Qaeda is recruiting non-Arab terrorists for US operations.

I wrote much the same thing in 2007:

Background checks are based on the dangerous myth that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we could identify everyone. Unfortunately, there isn't any terrorist profile that prescreening can uncover. Timothy McVeigh could probably have gotten one of these cards. So could have Eric Rudolph, the pipe bomber at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. There isn't even a good list of known terrorists to check people against; the government list used by the airlines has been the butt of jokes for years.

And have we forgotten how prevalent identity theft is these days? If you think having a criminal impersonating you to your bank is bad, wait until they start impersonating you to the Transportation Security Administration.

The truth is that whenever you create two paths through security -- a high-security path and a low-security path -- you have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to exploit the low-security path. It may be counterintuitive, but we are all safer if the people chosen for more thorough screening are truly random and not based on an error-filled database or a cursory background check.

In a companion blog post, Hawley has more details about why the program doesn't work:

In the sense that PreCheck bars people who were identified by intelligence or law enforcement agencies as possible terrorists, then it was intelligence-driven. But using that standard for PreCheck is ridiculous since those people already get extra screening or are on the No-Fly list. The movie Patriots Day, out now, reminds us of the tragic and preventable Boston Marathon bombing. The FBI sent agents to talk to the Tsarnaev brothers and investigate them as possible terror suspects. And cleared them. Even they did not meet the "intelligence-driven" definition used in PreCheck.

The other problem with "intelligence-driven" in the PreCheck context is that intelligence actually tells us the opposite; specifically that terrorists pick clean operatives. If TSA uses current intelligence to evaluate risk, it would not be out enrolling everybody they can into pre-9/11 security for everybody not flagged by the security services.

Hawley and I may agree on the problem, but we have completely opposite solutions. The op-ed was too short to include details, but they're in a companion blog post. Basically, he wants to screen PreCheck passengers more:

In the interests of space, I left out details of what I would suggest as short-and medium-term solutions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Immediately scrub the PreCheck enrollees for false identities. That can probably be accomplished best and most quickly by getting permission from members, and then using, commercial data. If the results show that PreCheck has already been penetrated, the program should be suspended.

  • Deploy K-9 teams at PreCheck lanes.

  • Use Behaviorally trained officers to interact with and check the credentials of PreCheck passengers.

  • Use Explosives Trace Detection cotton swabs on PreCheck passengers at a much higher rate. Same with removing shoes.

  • Turn on the body scanners and keep them fully utilized.

  • Allow liquids to stay in the carry-on since TSA scanners can detect threat liquids.

  • Work with the airlines to keep the PreCheck experience positive.

  • Work with airports to place PreCheck lanes away from regular checkpoints so as not to diminish lane capacity for non-PreCheck passengers. Rental Car check-in areas could be one alternative. Also, downtown check-in and screening (with secure transport to the airport) is a possibility.

These solutions completely ignore the data from the real-world experiment PreCheck has been. Hawley writes that PreCheck tells us that "terrorists pick clean operatives." That's exactly wrong. PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it's an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less. This is me in 2012: "I think the PreCheck level of airport screening is what everyone should get, and that the no-fly list and the photo ID check add nothing to security."

I agree with Hawley that we need to overhaul airport security. Me in 2010: "Airport security is the last line of defense, and it's not a very good one." We need to recognize that the actual risk is much lower than we fear, and ratchet airport security down accordingly. And then we need to continue to invest in investigation and intelligence: security measures that work regardless of the tactic or target.

Posted on December 27, 2016 at 6:11 AM • 83 Comments

Comments

MartinDecember 27, 2016 7:15 AM

"What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security."

Well, it creates a high-hassle and a low-hassle path into the airport. Judging from the red tests, both are low security.

AlexDecember 27, 2016 7:20 AM

The practical problem with screening people less is that it contradicts the plot of the play the security theater folks have been staging for all of these years. PreCheck gives them a way to screen less without admitting the whole thing was unnecessary.

As a traveler I'm very glad to have it.

Jeff MartinDecember 27, 2016 7:35 AM

To me an interesting question, why doesn't he just come right out and say 'get rid of Precheck'? Since his solution seems to be 'turn Precheck into regular check'.

QnJ1Y2UDecember 27, 2016 8:07 AM

@Alex
Came here to say something similar ... I think we'll see a gradual reduction in the overhead required to get into PreCheck, as the sane voices in the TSA (both of them) try to ratchet it down a bit. (But I bet they'll try to keep the revenue stream for a long time).

One of the other benefits to the TSA from PreCheck is less political pressure - frequent travelers were more likely to complain to Congress, and now are less likely to do so. Because of this, I think the TSA will ignore Hawley's opinion.

John ClarkDecember 27, 2016 8:08 AM

Reality is TSA Precheck has little to do with security and much to do with generating additional cash flow. Think of it as equivalent to paying for "more speed" from JetBlue.

Ben CottonDecember 27, 2016 8:09 AM

The argument skirts dangerously close to "we should only have PreCheck if it is perfect". Yes, it can be defeated. But for domestic-origin flights, this is the longest stretch without a hijacking since the 1960s. If you start from the premise that the purpose of the TSA is security theater and not actual security, then PreCheck is working just fine.

Nathan UnoDecember 27, 2016 8:14 AM

I once had a ticket purchased for by a business associate and I inherited his TSA pre-check status. Apparently because he is cleared, so is everyone else that he might purchase tickets for...

vas pupDecember 27, 2016 8:20 AM

@Bruce:"Background checks are based on the dangerous myth that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we could identify everyone. Unfortunately, there isn't any terrorist profile that prescreening can uncover."
Yes, you are right. Prescreening can't uncover terrorist profile, but it could uncover level of tendency towards violent behavior which could be useful to pinpoint group of people with personality good as a basis to develop terrorist activity. By the way, I'll highly recommend to read books on psychological profiling by Mr. Douglas (former FBI profiler) where personality of Timothy McVeigh was analyzed in details (as well as assassin personality) in particular meaning you'll probably need to utilize violent prone personality as red flag for additional analysis(kind of 'parallel construction'), not like final judgment because as you properly stated "there isn't any terrorist profile". Prone to violence personality could be utilized for good or for evil based in indoctrination, i.e. could be the same for terrorist and special forces operative. Conclusion: look for combo of personality and values for prediction.

AlexDecember 27, 2016 8:27 AM

I can save you several paragraphs, TSA is useless and was not created for "security" IMO.
Some of the lowest order humans in the World work there.
Expecting the dregs of humanity to do anything but share embarrassing photos of passengers or harassing children and the handicap is the best you will get from these mouth breathing poltroons.

Tracy WDecember 27, 2016 8:36 AM

On one of my trips in the past year or two, I was randomly "upgraded" to pre-check for some unknown reason. I think it was the old drug dealer ploy of "the first taste is free." And I bought the tickets myself, so it wasn't a situation like Nathan Uno's.

Scott LewisDecember 27, 2016 8:45 AM

Two things...

1) As a 20 time per business year traveler, I do not want to see the program scrapped. For completely selfish reasons that have nothing to do with security. I lump Precheck in with my airline status (more legroom, priority boarding, always have overhead space available), my rental car status (nicer car, no waiting on line), and my hotel status (check in remotely, top floor rooms, executive area access, keys waiting at lobby no credit card presented, etc). Nothing to do with security, but it makes my life a lot easier. When I flew once a year I never cared much.

2) John Clark above says it's above cash flow. Sorry John. It can't be that. It's $80 for 5 years. It's basically $16 a year from a passenger. The 9/11 security fee on your tickets generates a lot of cash flow. The $80 is swallowed up pretty much entirely by the cost of the screening centers and the cost of the background checks and fingerprint checks. If it was a money grab, it'd be $80 a year, maybe. Because I'd still be doing it.

Fallen PawnDecember 27, 2016 8:53 AM

I suppose it comes down to high security internal passports HSIP for frequent US citizen fliers.

Infrequent fliers might pay the $500 fee for a HSIP and wait 6 months or go through the gauntlet as is now, or likely worse, if history is predictive.

I always liked the idea of high value insurance coverage for all fliers who want to take a chance on lower, but less humiliating security checks.

Of course, targeting certain profiles would work, if we were really interested in security rather than nice appearances.

It goes without saying, intelligence services should work in such a way no terrorist gets on the property of an airport.

sketchDecember 27, 2016 9:10 AM

I think we should abolish any and ALL security checks since we're ALL innocent until PROVEN guilty. Amirite?

lets also strip the police of their authority and remove ALL of the concrete planters around any and all buildings. you don't own what you can't protect, right? Survival of the fittest you say.

Lost Luggage LaneDecember 27, 2016 9:11 AM

All this time and hassle for the illusion of security when statistically one is more likely to die in a car accident.

Fear is such a waste of energy. I wish my fellow Americans would show more backbone. Maybe then our gov't wouldn't feel compelled to compile lists of it's citizens.

Chris MurphyDecember 27, 2016 9:40 AM

It's a classist county that requires a classist security program. It reenforces old canards: high class is more trustworthy and respectable, trust and respect can be purchased because they are products, there are few high class and many low class so any pay to play system must recognize this (note how irate payers get when non payers are randomly selected to play).

It is totally orthogonal to security and logic. It is about honoring class.

Same for Clear, which just adds more cost and thus shrinks the class pool proving high class productization of the same security infrastructure to make people feel superior to others.

vas pupDecember 27, 2016 10:06 AM

http://www.dw.com/en/report-online-booking-security-gaps-allow-hackers-to-steal-free-flights/a-36916724

"Easy online check-ins and Europe's Schengen zone also mean that most European travelers rarely - if ever - have to show their passports while traveling in the passport-free area."

Looks like Europeans have their own bigger problem based on link above. Let say bleach your hair, insert blue contact lenses (your dark skin could be attributed to good vacation time) and you are not anymore within established common profile of terrorist and go travel in passport-free area.

I'd say that may competition/arms race between LEAs/Intel and bad guys is competition of imagination, or rather lack of it to think about possible scenarios and act in proactive, not reactive mode. Yeah, Bruce, I know there is no 100% security, but I understand as well that is not excuse to think and act primary in reactive mode.


RSaundersDecember 27, 2016 10:12 AM

Up until quite recently, the TSA was OK with people "randomly" being sent to PreCheck. The notion was that terrorists couldn't "plan" to get through that way.

The bottom line is that PreCheck represents "all the airport security screening we need." The "other line" is 100% security theatre. It serves a purpose, reminding the public that the TSA is "doing a lot of security at the airport" to support the US Government myth that the 9/11 attacks were caused by lax airport security rather than the Mineta Rule (hijackers should be allowed to fly the plane).

europeanDecember 27, 2016 11:02 AM

@vas pup

Schengen is not just a passport-free area, if you don't use an airplane and only cross the inner borders, you'll never even see the border police (barring special occasions when some politician or another decides to get some easy votes by establishing border controls for a few weeks).

And yes, I'll take a minuscule chance of getting blown up over guaranteed waste of time at the border any day.

I saw some police with SMGs when shopping before Christmas (and this is a shopping centre in buttfuck nowhere, not a capital city or anything), and do you think I felt safer? How are they going to protect me? More shots fired equals better protection, right?

Clive RobinsonDecember 27, 2016 12:11 PM

@ Martin,

Well, it creates a high-hassle and a low-hassle path into the airport.

Not as such, it's the US version of "The Class System". If you are "low status" you get the full grief of TSA abuse. If you are "middle status" you get taxed extra on your disposable income to get a slightly less onerous Level of grief. However if you are of sufficiently high status, then the only grief you get is the obsequious behaviour of the airport staff ensuring that the TSA don't get close to the very profitable VIPs from private aircraft...

AJWMDecember 27, 2016 12:12 PM

On one of my trips in the past year or two, I was randomly "upgraded" to pre-check for some unknown reason.

Except for when I'm leaving DIA (Denver), I've been "randomly" so upgraded on every flight I've taken in the past couple of years (maybe a half-dozen flights).

Compare that with the supposedly "random" hand inspection of my carry-on bags at every single leg on a flight to/from Adelaide, Australia in the month post-9/11. The (then recently renewed) British passport may have had something to do with that, I suppose.

WmDecember 27, 2016 1:07 PM

As we gun totters have to undergo a complete background check, a concealed handgun license should also qualify us without all the other hassle. But then there is no money in it for the TSA. That would also create a great cry from California and New England anti gun, anti self defense socialist.

Nick SDecember 27, 2016 1:37 PM

Chris Murphy is exactly right: I remember the pre-9/11 days of concourse-based security where Platinum Club types expected to emerge from the lounge five minutes before the gate closed, breeze through the metal detector, then step onto the plane.

The airline industry works on carrot and stick, whether it's shorter lines or baggage fees. It has its own odd little hierarchies that privilege the air warrior, and TSA Pre was absorbed into that perks model very quickly. That it and Global Entry are offered with various platinum cards tells its own story. (I appreciate Scott Lewis's honesty in saying that Precheck is treated as a status perk.) If the TSA were to follow Hawley's suggestions, and they introduced any delay or inconvenience reminiscent of the regular line, then there'd be immediate demand for a "premium" version.

It is possible to decouple security from status, but difficult in the US context when most air travel is domestic and tied to time-sensitive business, and the perks model is so well-established.

David ParsonsDecember 27, 2016 1:42 PM

I don't think that the TSA (or any other government agency) is legally allowed to see any data from gun background checks. If you're going to blame anyone for that, blame the NRA for their newly found paranoia about guns.

Dirk PraetDecember 27, 2016 2:03 PM

@ vas pup

Easy online check-ins and Europe's Schengen zone also mean that most European travelers rarely - if ever - have to show their passports while traveling in the passport-free area.

At airports, there still are random checks for travelling within Schengen, but basically, yes. The problem with Schengen is that it was never designed with security in mind and in its current state is unable to cope with today's realities of massive immigration flows and roaming terrorists, especially because in practice the EU is incapable of securing its outer borders. As again made abundantly clear with the case of the swine who drove a lorry into a Berlin Christmas market on December 19th.

The man was a paperless, convicted fellon whose asylum applications had been turned down both in Italy and Germany and despite being on terror watchlist was still able to move about freely throughout the Schengen zone. If it weren't for two Italian LEO's who by sheer chance had asked him for ID, he'd probably still be on the run.

@ european

I saw some police with SMGs when shopping before Christmas (and this is a shopping centre in buttfuck nowhere, not a capital city or anything), and do you think I felt safer?

That's security theatre 101. Many of these guys don't even carry live ammo and those who do can't fire a single round until the chain of command has explicitly authorised them to do so. Which will be after the facts. The only net result of such deployments are pickpockets and shoplifters temporarily moving elsewhere.

And yes, I'll take a minuscule chance of getting blown up over guaranteed waste of time at the border any day.

In which case you may wish to explain to the Berlin victims and their families that they are unfortunately collateral damage and the price we must pay for open borders. Neither Schengen or our open and tolerant society can be reduced to suicide pacts that must be upheld at any price to keep the moral highground and which eventually will drive the general public into the arms of Donald Trump and his European ilk.

Ever since Hammurabi's Codex dating back to 1800 BC, the first duty of any state - and prime reason of its existence - is the protection of its citizens from threats both foreign and domestic. The last thing we need for that is more Patriot Acts or more draconian surveillance, but it would certainly be very helpful that some politicans at least would try to enforce existing legislation (like deporting illegal aliens) or update it where necessary to reflect ever-changing realities. Here in Europe, Schengen is definitely one of those.


JohnDecember 27, 2016 2:07 PM

right Bruce, what we need is more STASI-goons giving EVERYBODY a body-cavity search - I'm starting to think someone has a "Security-clearance" and wants to keep it, because Sweet Jesus has there been a lot of brown-nosing here lately ..

GladioDecember 27, 2016 2:27 PM

@ Bruce Schneier

Do you really think recent terrorists had "clean" profiles? The recent terrorists in France and Germany had highly terrorism- and crime-linked profiles. It is a mystery why those terrorists were not stopped even though the profiles were more than suspicious. Maybe somebody profits if there are real terrorist attacks from time to time...

(Gladio. Stay behind.)

Martin WalshDecember 27, 2016 2:49 PM

@Clive Robinson

I recommend "Weapons of Math Destruction".
You can also listen to the data scientist author speak on CSPAN BookTV. Incredible eye-opening discussion into the horribly flawed and secretive algorithms behind the decisions seemingly made by authorities. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain? No, it's scarier than that, more like Minority Report.

You mentioned classes. And that's what is happening. Some are treated favorably and the rest put into subclasses. It is destroying civilization. Could this be the cause of the violent "us against them" political climate? People are being segregated by forces they can sense but don't understand. This could also explain the attitudes of many in authority - if we can't control you, then you must be bad.

HermanDecember 27, 2016 2:50 PM

If we look at it from a statistical point of view, then we should encourage the use of smaller aircraft, since the probability of having a terr or a bomb on board and the number of people who die if there is an event are all less.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 27, 2016 2:56 PM

@ Dirk Praet,

vas pup: And yes, I'll take a minuscule chance of getting blown up over guaranteed waste of time at the border any day.

you: In which case you may wish to explain to the Berlin victims and their families that they are unfortunately collateral damage and the price we must pay for open borders.

I definitely agree with vas pup in this case. People are dying because of "incidents" all the time. Trucks driven by Polish drivers kill people in all over Europe. Do you say we should stop Polish truck drivers driving in The Netherlands because they kill people? 100% safety is simply too costly, not only monetarily but at countless of other fronts as well. Schengen has its flaws, some serious, but this isn't one of them. Yes we need borders around Europe and deal with not accepted refugees and also redefine the EU itself, but closing the borders inside Europe doesn't make things better IMO.

hawkDecember 27, 2016 3:52 PM

@Gerard van Vooren

That is actually a point made on this blog.
Don't try to stop the mad truck driver because, statistically, who cares? If a dozen are murdered, well, compare it to the dozens killed ordinarily in the same period of time.

thesaucymugwumpDecember 27, 2016 4:43 PM

@Bruce "Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list"

Technically true, but practically false. One of the guys visited a flying business where someone I know works. The questions the future murderer asked raised great suspicions, but political correctness prevented any serious investigation. FBI agents raised the alarm: "FBIHQ should discuss this matter with other elements of the U.S. intelligence community and task the community for any information that supports Phoenix's suspicions." But we've had four incompetent administrations in a row, possibly to be followed by a fifth.

FBI Was Warned About Flight Schools
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-was-warned-about-flight-schools/

The solution is known, but expensive in terms of money and time. El Al does not allow hijackings because its personnel grill every passenger. We in the U.S. think that convenience and low prices are more important than safety -- real safety -- so we don't implement El Al's methodology.

@european "I'll take a minuscule chance of getting blown up over guaranteed waste of time at the border any day"

Define miniscule. We had two truck massacres this year, in July and December. Would one a month be enough to change your mind? And as Dirk Praet said, would you be willing to explain to families of murder victims that their loss is merely collateral damage?

CRAPSECDecember 27, 2016 5:55 PM

"Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list"

Not on watch lists, no, they were on CIA's own Platinum Premium Frequent Crasher program. Blee and Wilshere were the personal concierges of two in particular, saving their bumbling asses continually as the cartoonish evildoers skulked conspicuously around the country.

https://911reports.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/deconstructing-the-911-dot-disconnection-a-book-review-by-erik-larson/

If you really give a rat's ass about security you will end CIA impunity for armed attacks on the domestic civilian population.

Dirk PraetDecember 27, 2016 5:59 PM

@ Gerard

... closing the borders inside Europe doesn't make things better IMO.

Of course it doesn't. I called for a much needed overhaul of Schengen, not for an abolition. And yes, you can't protect against any incident or risk, but from where I'm sitting, the Berlin tragedy was a complete clusterf*ck that could easily have been avoided even within the existing legislative framework governing the case of Anis Amri and many thousands of similar profiles on European soil.

@ Hawk

Don't try to stop the mad truck driver because, statistically, who cares?

Their families and loved-ones do. The general public does. And you really shouldn't underestimate the societal impact of what the Germans call "Staatsversagen", or state failure. Which this was a clear case of, and a direct road to the further rise of populist and right-wing parties whose "solutions" will be far more extreme and much less desirable than the existing rule of law trying to strike a different balance between high moral principles and the reality of a murderous death cult that will keep lashing out until it is exterminated.

JasonDecember 27, 2016 6:06 PM

A buddy of mine told me this story:

In the post-9/11 hyper-security heyday during 2002, he actually got stopped with a Leatherman micra mini-tool hung on his keys on his way back (but no problem flying out with it), as it has short scissors and mini blade on them (each about 1.5" long). He had to deal with a cite-and-release with the local Port Authority, and then TSA's fines, and he assumed he was on the naughty list for a time.

However, he never had a problem flying after that or was stopped for additional security. Since then, he has had many background checks (multiple employers with government contracts including LEOs, many different states states, FBI, DHS) and finally his TSA Pre-Check this past summer. He said he is always truthful about the misdemeanor in his "criminal" history for the Leatherman.

So fast-forward to this summer and he obtained his TSA Pre-Check with no problem. Recent flight out using the TSA Pre-Check had a problem with his carry-on, which doubles as his bicycle saddle-bag/laptop case. He had a 18mm wrench for removing his rear tire in a rarely used zipper, and buried in a corner was a 9mm hollow-point round of ammo, which is his +1 round and was unloaded some time back and forgotten about in a small zipper section he keep earbuds in.

TSA Pre-Check security found both. Found the wrench first and said it was too big and could be used as a weapon. He explained this was his bicycle saddle bag and just to toss it as he'd have to get another. During the second scan pass it found the 9mm round. He told them he carried a firearm, and that all his ammo and other firearms were all in his checked baggage, and if the scanner could just toss the round in the trash as well. No problem, ammo was tossed, zero hassles.

I don't know if he just got a really "nice person" handling his bag, or was just lucky, or if that is how they always handle those sorts of issues with TSA Pre-Check. Note my friend is not a LEO. While I'm glad it worked out hassle-free for my friend, it makes one wonder.

Side note: after learning about this, I am just going to use travel-only luggage that is never used for day-to-day purposes to prevent these problems.

supersaurusDecember 27, 2016 6:48 PM

@thesaucymugwump

"Define miniscule."

approximately 10,000 people will have died in the US in 2016 in an alcohol related vehicle crash. in 2015 in sweden 61 out of 259 road fatalities involved a driver, rider, pedestrian or cyclist under the influence (0.2 g/l, much lower than the limit in the US). US population is about 325,000,000, sweden about 10,000,000, so if we had the same rate US deaths would be about 2,000 (note in sweden even if a *passenger* is over the limit it counts).

8,000 excess deaths is about 666 deaths per month. would you like to be the one who explains these deaths to the families? sweden is an existence proof that the rate can be greatly reduced. how many people died from terrorism in the US in the last decade?

it is doubtful that the rate of deaths from either terrorism or drunk drivers can be reduced to zero, but if you want to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths it seems obvious where you would spend the most resources.

your argument "...would you be willing to explain to families of murder victims that their loss is merely collateral damage..." is weak. these deaths are not "...merely...", but how much freedom are you willing to give up and how much are you willing to spend aiming for a death rate of zero? *any* amount? 10X what you spend now? 100X? do you think a rate of zero is actually attainable? I guess killing everybody on the planet would do it, but it seems an awfully poor trade.

AnselmDecember 27, 2016 7:13 PM

I personally would prefer not to be anywhere near where random police officers discharge submachine guns with live ammunition. Unlike what one sees on TV cop shows, the general standard of law-enforcement marksmanship with pistols is so atrocious already that, from the POV of a crowd of innocent bystanders, there is probably little difference between a (non-SWAT) police officer with an SMG and another terrorist as far as the danger of getting shot – accidentally or on purpose, it doesn't matter to the bullet – is concerned.

Dirk PraetDecember 27, 2016 7:52 PM

@ Supersaurus

... how much freedom are you willing to give up and how much are you willing to spend aiming for a death rate of zero? *any* amount? 10X what you spend now? 100X? do you think a rate of zero is actually attainable?

Straw man argument, mate. My position is not about throwing more money at the problem, giving up freedoms or attaining zero casualties. It's about correct implementation and enforcement of existing legislation, where needed with minor corrections, in order to prevent deliberate but perfectly avoidable mass murders as was the case in Berlin, not road traffic accidents.

The biggest threat to democracy as we know it are not the scarce, and mostly incompetent terrorists themselves, but the general public giving up on it because of systemic failures eventually perceived as the unwillingness or inability of the state to effectively protect and care for its ordinary citizens. Or do you actually think a mad, capitalist billionaire living in a golden palace and who can't even spell the word democracy rose to power because everything is so hunky dory in the US?

PeteDecember 27, 2016 8:20 PM

Forget TSA Pre-check. No way other than behavior over time can determine a safe person and that isn't foolproof either.

Govt employees/contractors with 5+ yrs of work history who have safely dealt with expensive/dangerous equipment all that time. Not perfect, but at least it is a history. In theory, someone wouldn't waste 5 yrs in a position controlling nuclear reactors or rockets or aircraft or active military firing/carrying weapons (not logistics/accounting people) without doing anything bad who can't be trusted to be a passenger on a plane.

Perhaps anyone with a govt clearance over 5 yrs? Need the history. My clearance took many months extra because I had an active "party life" before getting a govt job. Since a few years prior to getting employed, I haven't done any taken any drugs that were illegal in the country I was in, at the time, as far as I know.

Might even trust law enforcement, FBI, and ATF people in the pre-check lines, though I'd like an independent review board for them. ;) After all, who watches the watchers?

Don't know how to deal with others ... perhaps flying 5 times annually for 5 yrs gets you on the TSA-approved list?

I dunno. In my mind, the goal should be to get everyone possible on the list, so any outliers just get a little extra attention. Don't waste time on known people.

tweedledumbDecember 27, 2016 11:04 PM

No authentication probably doesn't help.

http://www.itnews.com.au/news/researchers-access-travel-records-with-just-a-passenger-surname-445933

Another good reason not to take the flying bus if possible. Having a nervous break down or psychotic episode, induced by extreme claustrophobia, doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Even on plane, including if you are sitting next to me while holding my hand and assuring me it's all going to be alright.

Don't forget to clap and cheer the pilots on landing, that's the tricky bit.

thesaucymugwumpDecember 27, 2016 11:10 PM

@supersaurus

Funny you should mention DUI deaths, as I am a hardliner on such matters. I think first-time DUI offenders should spend some time in jail, perhaps 30 days, not the current nonsense where first-time offenders simply lose their license until they attend some ridiculous training session. A second offense should be serious jail time, perhaps one year. A third offense indicates that the offender is a psychopath, deserving of a life sentence. And all of this assumes that no one was injured, with the penalty for that being added. These sentences are just off the top of my head.

But I also think that people who text and drive should receive the exact same sentences, as it has been proven that texters can actually have worse response times compared to drinkers. I assume you are in the texting generation, so I wonder if you agree with this extension.

I also want the government to deport Islamists who aren't citizens, and remove the citizenship of naturalized Islamists and deport them on the grounds that they lied on their citizenship papers, starting with the mother of the Tsarnaevs.

@Pete

I would argue that just about all FBI agents employed for more than one year should be automatically added to the pre-clear list. BATF agents sometimes have a nasty attitude -- here in Colorado many years ago, one actually threw rounds of pistol ammunition at a waitress after he had too many drinks -- so I would not automatically add them to the list. Most police officers should be added to the list; just disallow the ones with disciplinary actions or even a whiff of corruption on their records, which probably excludes many big-city ones.

tweedledeeDecember 27, 2016 11:53 PM

Sitting at a keyboard, without moving your legs all day is likely more dangerous than sharks, but terrorists try and divide the community and rip apart the fabric of society in an attempt to divide us more and treat everyone worse than we already do.

Teenage sharks are just curious beasts that want to check out new things with their very sharp teeth. Sharks don't have their own hands, but have other benefits.

Terrorists are furious beasts, hell bent on destruction and wanting to prove they are really angry and unhappy about something or other, and then find the idiots guide of how to do it. Terrorists don't have any benefits. Probably half of them have forgotten or not sure what they are so angry about, but meanwhile got themselves involved with some "friends" who couldn't give a toss about anyone or anything except their own personal grievance. There could even be a gut bacteria or something that distributes itself in crowds via poorly prepared food and explosions.

Terrorists might have discovered something about themselves that their community doesn't approve of, and think that doing something really stupid will prove they are really tough. They could also believe that humans are a blight on the planet and they are the medicine, but don't have any good influence or guidance to prevent themselves from acting nutty because they've isolated themselves from those that care.

Whatever the reasoning, the effect is the same at frightening people, and frightened people can act in unpredictable ways on occasion. Playschool might be a pretty infuriating experience for some adults, but terrorism is not a solution to anything and likely might also have the opposite effect than intended. Loving things to death is probably a far better solution with greater outcomes. If you have any explosives, keep them under your bed, take up smoking, and live on your own a really long way away from anything.

TEDDecember 28, 2016 12:13 AM

The screening of pre-check passengers could definitely use some process improvement, consistency, and a liberal application of bullshit check fluid.

In the Omaha airport I witnessed a 13 year girl wearing yoga pants and a fitted sleeveless athletic shirt be subject to a vigorous secondary and tertiary pat down because.....(wait for it)...she had an insulin pump.

Despite the fact she had short flat hair, her scalp was palpated for 20+ seconds. The girl was calm. The father was calm until they started going through her duffle bag pulled out one of her size 6 addidas removed the insole, and brandished towards the girl and asked aggressively, "what is this!?!?!" As though they had never seen a an insole.

Folks it's gonna be quite a while before the bad guys find a 13 year old female traveling with her dad to knowing participate in a plot to destroy an airplane.

25 minutes of resources were wasted on a low probability threat.

We need to stop wasting time pushing with the backs of our hands to palpate gramma Sally's depends.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 28, 2016 2:23 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

I called for a much needed overhaul of Schengen, not for an abolition.

After I see the modifications then I can decide whether I agree or not but at least then we can all argue about it.

And yes, you can't protect against any incident or risk, but from where I'm sitting, the Berlin tragedy was a complete clusterf*ck that could easily have been avoided even within the existing legislative framework governing the case of Anis Amri and many thousands of similar profiles on European soil.

A complete clusterf*ck? Definitely! Could it have been avoided? Of course!

But I don't think the IC world has any clue of how to deal with this. I can't speak for the IC in Europe but in The Netherlands they are retards. Since 9/11 they got this new task of preventing moslim terrorism. Before that it was mostly spying the USSR. They stink in their new task, they are just not getting it. If you have the time listen to this audio fragment at about 40 minutes from the begin. Rob Bertholee, the director of the AIVD either has his own agenda or he is a complete and utter moron. I don't believe the latter btw but I could be wrong.

About right-wing parties "solutions", despite of Wilders claiming that he says everything he wants, I haven't heard of a detailed report stating exactly how he wants to reach his goals. This world is being ruled by vagueness and meaningless claims.

PetterDecember 28, 2016 2:27 AM

@thesaucymugwump


Define miniscule. We had two truck massacres this year, in July and December. Would one a month be enough to change your mind? And as Dirk Praet said, would you be willing to explain to families of murder victims that their loss is merely collateral damage?

With 12 people shot dead during the christmas week due to gun violence in Chicago, the terror acts by using two vehicles in Europe give some proportion to the different evils.
http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/shootings/
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/26/us/chicago-christmas-homicides/

Are some evil more evil then other evils?
Are some peoples lives worth more then others?
Are the death of a human being due to terror acts more horrific then by a drive by shooting?
Or is it that the purpose of a terrorist act generally involves more people being killed that we believe they are more evil?

We are trying to stop desperate people from doing desperate things in a world where many people experience despair.
Are killings by guns something we should accept because the constitution gives us the right to carry and instead focus on some suicidal bat shit crazy terrorists with no fear for their own lives?
Or should we perhaps work for a better and more peaceful world all together where we all feel welcomed, respected and understood?

Killing is a killing is a killing.
The name of it does not change anything.
The sorrow of the families does not change because we put a different label on the act.

We are looking at "the others" so much we forget our own problem because it have been going on for such a long time.
Two people murdered in Chicago every day. Day after day after day.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 28, 2016 3:05 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

One final statement about the terrorist attack in Berlin. No matter how hard this is for the loved ones, this news item is, like with all terrorism attacks, blown out of proportions. We are still in the aftermath of the Bush administration with his bogeyman distraction tactics. I mean, we aren't talking about the crash of the Russian Antanov that killed 92 people.

Dirk PraetDecember 28, 2016 6:32 AM

@ Petter

Are the death of a human being due to terror acts more horrific then by a drive by shooting?

Most definitely not, but at the risk of turning this into another gun debate, is something of your own choosing and the price the US pays for its liberal gun legislation. Which a majority of the country still seems to accept, as opposed to Europe where a majority of the population does not accept even one more casualty of Daesh (IS) attacks that turned out to be perfectly avoidable if only the existing rule of law had been applied.

@ Gerard

But I don't think the IC world has any clue of how to deal with this

There's no denying that some IC agencies are indeed underperforming and judging from the link you posted your Rob Bertholee seems to be a complete and utter moron indeed. But I don't think they are the biggest problem. People like Anis Amri or Molenbeek's Abdeslam brothers were known radicals with known Daesh ties and featured on terrorist watch lists. Given the risk they pose to society, such people do not belong on the streets and shouldn't be allowed to move about freely, especially if they also happen to be convicted felons whose asylum applications have been turned down.

It is beyond me that a person like Anis Amri was set free by German authorities because he didn't have any papers - something a regular German citizen ends up in a whole lot of trouble over - and Tunesian authorities had flatly refused to take him back twice. This man had no future in either Europe or his home country (which he had fled to escape jail time), and thus was just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. And there's plenty more of those.

However much it is our humanitarian and even legal duty to support the temporary or even permanent welcoming of refugees of any race or colour and who qualify for such status, our society has no obligations whatsoever to foreign criminals, psychopaths or Daesh supporters, at the risk of completely eroding the support for the former group, and irrespective of where they come from or whether or not their home countries agree to take them back.

Translated to Schengen, this means that anyone whose identity has not been clearly established, has lied about his/her identity, has had his/her asylum application turned down or has been put on a terrorist watchlist (e.g. Syria returnees) should be barred from free travel within the Schengen zone and fitted with an electronic tag or confined to a closed detention center when not abiding by appropriate movement restrictions imposed by a judge in a formal court order.

GreenSquirrelDecember 28, 2016 8:09 AM

Well this led to an interesting, if slightly predictable debate along the lines of security is good because terrorists do things.

Anyway - one point which springs to mind from the earlier comments: people who advocate PreCheck because it makes their journey through the airport easier are missing the point.

The idea suggested by Bruce (at least as I read it) is that everyone should have this experience. Not just those paying $80 every five years. If this is the acceptable level of security then it seems everything else is simply in place to inconvenience travellers.

Scrap PreCheck and ratchet down airport security to a sensible level - this isnt the same as saying the old US habit of internal flights having no security. It is worth considering, however, that train travel is currently very, very low security with a very low rate of terrorist attack.

thesaucymugwumpDecember 28, 2016 8:10 AM

@Petter "the constitution gives us the right to carry"

You confuse apples and oranges. Very few of the firearms used in Chicago are legal ones, proving that gun bans have little effect on crime. There are towns in the Midwest and South where gun ownership is virtually 100%, yet the murder rate is almost zero. The U.S. is a violent place for all sorts of reasons. Chicago has huge black neighborhoods where the vast majority of crime is black on black, yet bimbos like Beyonce concentrate on the few killings of blacks by police officers. We have communist groups such as Black Lives Matter, but no groups protesting against "the knockout game."

Tthe leadership of the U.S., left and right, has completely failed everyone except the wealthy. Chicago, Detroit and other cities would have much less crime if more jobs were available, but Silicon Valley types have outsourced most manufacturing jobs. Most people have never visited Native American reservations, but I have; the poverty is overwhelming, the schools are third-world, the infrastructure is non-existent, and alcoholism is rampant, but it never makes the news.

Selfish libertarians say that economic matters and social ones are independent of each other, but in fact they are inseparable.

GreenSquirrelDecember 28, 2016 8:27 AM

@Dirk Praet

@ Supersaurus

... how much freedom are you willing to give up and how much are you willing to spend aiming for a death rate of zero? *any* amount? 10X what you spend now? 100X? do you think a rate of zero is actually attainable?

Straw man argument, mate. My position is not about throwing more money at the problem, giving up freedoms or attaining zero casualties. It's about correct implementation and enforcement of existing legislation, where needed with minor corrections, in order to prevent deliberate but perfectly avoidable mass murders as was the case in Berlin, not road traffic accidents.

I am not sure that really is a straw man argument.

You wrote:

In which case you may wish to explain to the Berlin victims and their families that they are unfortunately collateral damage and the price we must pay for open borders.

This reads as an argument that the freedom (open borders) appears to be insufficient to justify the cost (Berlin). From this, I'd assume you have a plan which zeroes the risk that some other families will be victims of a terrorist attack, or it doesn't make sense.

There will always be a situation where someone has to hear the message that their families were the unfortunate collateral damage and the price which must be paid for [whatever]. This can be as simple "I am sorry your father was killed by a drunk driver, we take measures to deter & capture them but we refuse to implement expensive, liberty-removing controls which would prevent this behaviour" to as complicated as "Our world is a better place because of the freedoms we allow, which include movement. Sadly some people are trying to undermine this by generating fear and mistrust, but we will not allow this to subvert our society and turn us into hateful people who are shadows of our enemies."

If your loved ones die - either at the hands of a drunk driver or an evil terrorist - there is nothing which can take away the loss, grief and pain.

No amount of "[insert government agency] should have done better and will in the future" really changes things because the reality is their loved ones wont return and at some point in the future a mistake / oversight will mean someone else loses loved ones.

So, should Schengen be improved? Probably. Will it prevent terrorist attacks? Probably not.

GreenSquirrelDecember 28, 2016 8:51 AM

@thesaucymugwump

There are towns in the Midwest and South where gun ownership is virtually 100%, yet the murder rate is almost zero.

So is this a claim that the rate of gun ownership is the reason why the murder rate is low?

I found it very difficult to look into this - most gun ownership statistics appear to be published at the state level rather than the city level and after a while I lost interest.

One thing which did spring to mind though - Missouri has at the state level 45% ownership (15th highest in the US) and also has some of the highest homicide rates in the US (4th highest in the US, with St Louis being 15th in the world).

I suspect it is very difficult to determine the numbers of people in St Louis with legal firearms because the relaxed purchasing rules make it unlikely that anyone keeps a record.

It seems likely that most firearm crime is carried out with illegal held firearms but this glosses over the additional issues: More firearms in circulation mean more opportunities for criminals to get hold of them; accidental & negligent discharges leading to deaths; and the ubiquitous ownership of guns seems to make Americans feel much, much less safe in their day to day lives because they constantly fear their interaction is with an armed person.

I sort of agree that poverty and underemployment are likely paths to higher crime rates but a lot more research would be needed to confirm this. The US has similar poverty / unemployment to lots of European countries but significantly higher violent crime rates.

thesaucymugwumpDecember 28, 2016 9:41 AM

@GreenSquirrel

Yes, data is difficult to find. It's easier to look at the research of people such as Gary Kleck who found that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of times firearms are used in preventing crime each year. People have been threatened by someone, brought out a pistol, and the thug went away. These events will not show up in police reports.

It is a fact that crime is highest in large cities with gun control and lowest in small towns with no gun control. But if gun control was so overpoweringly effective, that would be reversed. I'm not necessarily saying that guns reduce crime; I'm saying there are cultural factors which are much stronger.

Your example of Missouri is a great example of how statistics can be misleading. Missouri does have a high percentage of gun ownership and it has a high crime rate, but most of that crime is centered around East Saint Louis, the area including Ferguson. Look at FBI data and you will discover that East Saint Louis is one of the most dangerous areas in the entire country and has been for decades. It's also mostly black with poor job prospects.

Then look at the Flint-Detroit corridor, probably the most dangerous area in the country. Ponder on how the vanishing domestic auto industry created an area with lots of people but few jobs. Government made things worse by ruining the water supply in Flint.

As you said, most crime occurs via illegal weapons, but gun control only affects legal guns, hence why it becomes a bitter battle. The only way to eliminate illegal guns would be via raids in high-crime areas.

Europe's crime rate is climbing fast due to migrants, so be careful making comparisons.

As I keep saying, the U.S. is a violent place and always has been. This fact is ignored by proponents of gun control. Here's a parting tidbit for you. The Columbine murderers actually wanted to kill thousands of people via propane bombs. Luckily, their incompetence prevented that. They resorted to plan-B which was to shoot as many people as possible. Gun control proponents always use Columbine as a poster event for gun control, but it was actually a wake-up call for society to intervene when psychopaths rear their murderous heads, e.g. Adam Lanza. Read Dave Cullen's "Columbine" for details.

CarcinDecember 28, 2016 9:48 AM

"yet bimbos like Beyoncé"
"communist groups such as Black Lives Matter"
"the knockout game."

Careful, @thesaucymugwump - your economic anxiety is showing....

GreenSquirrelDecember 28, 2016 10:48 AM

@thesaucymugwump

It's easier to look at the research of people such as Gary Kleck who found that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of times firearms are used in preventing crime each year.

Interesting - and I will look into how the numbers here were collated. The challenge, I suspect, is that a deterred crime is often undetectable, let alone under reported, which makes me suspect that to a large extent the numbers here are fabricated. People will have anecdotal tales and often the urban myths will recirculate.

One thought experiment, if someone is threatened and able to draw a gun in self defence, it is almost certain the assailant is unarmed or armed with an unloaded weapon. It also flies against the number of people who keep a gun locked in the car/gun safe for this exact situation. If you can get to your car/gun safe, unlock and access your firearm, you probably weren't under that much of a threat.

In the USA there are around 1.2m violent crimes a year so if firearms are preventing millions then it truly is a country with more criminals than anywhere else in the world. Moving away from the direct topic of firearms, this is a major problem which the nation should look at. This implies there are war zones which are safer, so having been to the USA many times and never once killed, I suspect that the numbers are a bit embellished.

It is a fact that crime is highest in large cities with gun control and lowest in small towns with no gun control.

This is catchy but I am not convinced it fully bears out when you look at crime rates. Small towns will always have an odd effect when it comes to crime rates simply because the population density is lower.

A city of 10m which has 100 murders per 100,000 of the population will have more crime than a town of 100,000 which has 200 murders per 100,000 heads.

A better example would be to compare big cities vs big cities, small towns vs small towns and see what that produces.

Chicago and Houston are close in size but with different violent crime rates (Chicago: 884 per 100,000 vs Houston: 991 per 100,000). There is a difference in the murder rates (Chicago has 15 vs Houston's 10) but Houston has more robbery, aggravated assault and burglary - which should be deterred by firearms access.

But if gun control was so overpoweringly effective, that would be reversed. I'm not necessarily saying that guns reduce crime; I'm saying there are cultural factors which are much stronger.

I agree with you that cultural and social factors are the overwhelming effect. I just also think that carrying guns doesn't reduce crime or make people safer. It might add some security theatre around the feeling of being safe, but that is all and even this may cause people to engage in higher risk behaviour.

Missouri does have a high percentage of gun ownership and it has a high crime rate, but most of that crime is centered around East Saint Louis, the area including Ferguson.

Yet St Louis has fairly slack gun control laws inherited from the state legislation. There are some interesting police complaints about how if they stop a vehicle which contains a weapon and no one owns up to it, they cant seize or or arrest the occupants.

As you said, most crime occurs via illegal weapons, but gun control only affects legal guns, hence why it becomes a bitter battle.

This is a mix of being true and not true. Yes, a hypothetical law banning firearms would initially only effect owners who comply with the law. However it would mean in any situation where a police officer encounters someone with a firearm, they can be arrested and the weapon taken away. Its not an instant effect but it has an effect. Most European countries once allowed ownership of firearms, then banned it. Society didn't collapse and crime didn't rocket.

Europe's crime rate is climbing fast due to migrants, so be careful making comparisons.

Some people say this, but there is no evidence of it when you look into it. It is largely a reds-under-the-bed type scare story people spread around to support underlying prejudices. In general, European violent crime rates are reducing but becoming more polarised around high profile events which capture news headlines and fuel public imagination.

As I keep saying, the U.S. is a violent place and always has been.

A dangerous mindset indeed. The USA fuels its own love of violence and seems willing to resit any attempts to civilise it. It appears some elements of the society relish the fact they are on a par with war zones when it comes to violence. It makes me wonder why the population of the USA is so violent when compared to Canada. This in itself is a fascinating bit of social research but I suspect would step on so many toes, no one would ever do it properly.

Given how violent the citizens of the USA appear to be, doesn't it seem madness that they have so many guns?

Gun control proponents always use Columbine as a poster event for gun control, but it was actually a wake-up call for society to intervene when psychopaths rear their murderous heads,

This harks back to the previous bit. A place is violent because the people there are violent which leads to a violent society. A violent society is always going to generate more and more nutcases who just want to kill.

Then, without gun control, how does society intervene when people are dangerously close to going all out Columbine?

You cant take their guns away because they are a bit threatening - thats against their rights and undermines the bedrock of legal processes. It is too resource intensive to get a shrink in to use some mental health provisions to imprison people for "dangerous thoughts" and the lack of regulation around the sale of firearms means someone will sell them a gun if you don't keep them in prison.

I think the only sensible thing for Americans to do is equip every tourist with body armour and assault rifles as they clear immigration. It is obviously the only way to be safe from Americans themselves.

Dirk PraetDecember 28, 2016 12:37 PM

@ GreenSquirrel

From this, I'd assume you have a plan which zeroes the risk that some other families will be victims of a terrorist attack, or it doesn't make sense.

There is no such thing as zeroing the risk of anything or a plan for curtailing everyone's liberties in a futile attempt to try and do so. The simple fact of the matter is that Schengen in practice is going to be toast for everyone unless it is amended with certain restrictions on the free movement of a very specific group of people, who, by the way, would not be entitled to any such rights in any other part of the world either. And which will indeed help in preventing some attacks, not all of them.

I'm kinda surprised that quite some people seem to take such a black and white stance on this.

@ thesaucymugwump

Europe's crime rate is climbing fast due to migrants, so be careful making comparisons.

There is little empirical evidence for that, with the exception of North African and Balkan immigrants who have little to no chance of getting asylum, so more rapidly turn to crime as they have no realistic prospects of staying or making an honest living anyway. It is however undeniable that particularly heinous crimes committed by immigrants or asylum seekers draw more media attention than when perpetrated by natives, and this adversely affects the support and tolerance for the entire group.

In Germany, there have been some recent rape, murder and attempted murder cases by Pakistani, Afghan and Syrian asylum seekers that have semt massive shock waves of indignation throughout the country, and are only increasing the calls for a tougher clampdown on criminal elements which green and socialist parties keep ignoring for reasons of political correctness.

thesaucymugwumpDecember 28, 2016 2:26 PM

@GreenSquirrel

Gary Kleck's research is interesting. He is a self-admitted tree-hugger, not an NRA type. I agree that the numbers are inflated because some people are afraid of shadows, but even if two zeros are removed from his figure of 2.5 million thwarted crimes, that still leaves 25,000, which is still more than twice the number of homicides by firearms per year.

Comparing Chicago and Houston is not going to teach you anything because both are large, corrupt cities, though Chicago has always been one of the most corrupt. There is no practical difference between large and mid-sized cities. Compare Chicago and Fort Collins, Colorado (http://www.fcgov.com/police/crime-stats.php). Or choose any small city in Colorado. I use my home state as an example because we have two relevant laws. First, we have legal concealed carry of pistols. And second, we have what liberals term the "make my day law," which simply means that we can shoot home invaders without being forced to run away from thugs in our homes. Colorado is around the 15th lowest in terms of homicide. And New Hampshire, which has very lax firearms laws, has the very lowest number of homicides. (Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by homicide rate).

I'm no Texan carrying a rifle or shotgun around in public. That's nuts.

And I suspect you have never been to the south side of Chicago, East Saint Louis, Baltimore (Randy Newman wrote a song about it), or similar neighborhoods, because once you do, your attitude changes for the worse. I have relatives in Chicago who have hairy tales to tell.

As for the U.S. versus Canada, there are many factors, with the legacy of slavery being at the top. Second would be the popular beliefs in unfettered capitalism, libertarianism, and social Darwinism.

The best estimate is that over 300 million firearms exist in the U.S., more than one per person, both legal and illegal.

Switzerland mandates that all males from, I think, 18-45, maintain a fully automatic military weapon in their homes in case of attack, yet people almost never use them in criminal activities or to settle scores. Firearms are not magical devices which convert owners to demonic killers.

Here's the kind of gun control I want. When someone posts mass murderer or jihadist thoughts on social media, their right to own firearms should be revoked. That said, we shouldn't allow Google or Facebook to do the determining.

@Dirk Praet

One of the problems with empirical evidence is that certain governments are being politically correct with reporting crimes. Both Sweden (BBC News: How Sweden became an exporter of jihad) and Germany actively hide stories regarding migrants, with Cologne's New Year's Day mass grope being the best example. Jews in France are nervous now because of increased attacks (PBS Newshour: Why have anti-Semitic attacks on French Jews doubled in a year?).

@Carcin

I plead guilty to economic anxiety, but you chose three examples on the same subject. Read my blog and you will see that I possess stronger feelings regarding Silicon Valley, China, and a few other subjects. I'd like to return to 1980 or so when jobs were plentiful for all Americans.

Blank RegDecember 28, 2016 5:14 PM

As selfish as it sounds, I hope we keep the Pre-Check program at least for awhile longer.

I got a "Global Entry" card last year (took awhile), and TSA PreCheck is an added benefit. It's like flying used to be, and I fly a LOT for business. Sure keeps my blood pressure in check.

I hate the whole "security theater" nonsense, no matter what, but it amazes me how many people are willfully ignorant of this program, and opt to stand in long lines to get yelled at by TSA goons, and go thru the Porn Scanner, when, with a little effort, you can race past the line, keep your jacket and shoes on, leave the laptop in the bag, and get treated almost respectfully. No yelling/lecturing.

One day, either this national nightmare will end, or I'll end up living in Uruguay. Whichever, at this point.

Sancho_PDecember 28, 2016 5:22 PM

@Dirk Praet, @Gerard van Vooren

It’s not about defending but avoiding terrorism.

I think the first point is we need is to understand why there is terrorism.
And we know why.
It’s only that we don’t want to understand it.
So we don’t talk about.

The second is what we could do with people “we don’t like”.
We don’t talk about because we don’t have a clue.

(“we” means our society)

”This man had no future in either Europe or his home country”
This will not prevent, on the contrary, some of them to murder innocents.
You wrote the word “psychopath”, which I’d agree with, but how to stop that behavior?
It is a serious mental illness.

But back to the first issue, that’s the main point.

RatioDecember 28, 2016 6:18 PM

@Dirk Praet,

People like Anis Amri or Molenbeek's Abdeslam brothers were known radicals with known Daesh ties and featured on terrorist watch lists. Given the risk they pose to society, such people do not belong on the streets and shouldn't be allowed to move about freely, [...]

And the Rechtsstaat?

GreenSquirrelDecember 29, 2016 6:22 AM

@Dirk Praet

I'm kinda surprised that quite some people seem to take such a black and white stance on this.

I dont see it as any more, or less, a black and white stance than the one you are taking. The issue appears to be driven by your feeling that Schengen doesn't provide enough benefits to justify the risks - others disagree. There are some people who appear to believe that allowing freedom of movement to the specific group of people you mention gives them a better society than one which has to be able to enforce the controls necessary to restrict that freedom.

Restricting the movement of (for example) Palestinian refugees means every border crossing has to have a checkpoint which checks everyone. This costs money to maintain, creates social tensions and can easily suffer from mission creep when {government} decides {group of people} is no longer acceptable.

Even with this extra social burden, there will still be terrorist attacks and people will still have to say to families "Sorry, thats just the price of freedom."

For me, I would rather take the risks associated with the freedoms.

GreenSquirrelDecember 29, 2016 6:50 AM

@thesaucymugwump

Gary Kleck's research is interesting. He is a self-admitted tree-hugger, not an NRA type.

I am not sure how that is relevant other than to imply he might be less likely to over-inflate the numbers, but it still means he is making up the numbers. I am not arguing for or against either the NRA or tree-huggers.

I agree that the numbers are inflated because some people are afraid of shadows, but even if two zeros are removed from his figure of 2.5 million thwarted crimes, that still leaves 25,000, which is still more than twice the number of homicides by firearms per year.

This assumes that the made up number is at least that accurate. We have no way of knowing and only a personal bias as to what "feels" like it should be right. The number could be 1 or it could be 1 trillion. Or any combination between. Or even more or less. The only thing the number guessed on tells us is what the person guessing thinks is right.

Comparing Chicago and Houston is not going to teach you anything because both are large, corrupt cities, though Chicago has always been one of the most corrupt.

Isn't that the point? Comparing "megacities" with rural villages doesn't give anything meaningful. The level of variation is overwhelming. As an example, Fort Collins has only half as many rapes per head of population as Chicago, which is interesting because you would think that social factors would have more influence on that. The murder rate is significantly lower (1/10th) but the aggravated assault is only marginally lower (half). I would have thought that aggravated assault was most significantly impacted by an armed population.

The point is, if {policy} reduces crime it will reduce it in a big city as well as a small town.

And I suspect you have never been to the south side of Chicago

Actually I have but not since 2008.

As for the U.S. versus Canada, there are many factors, with the legacy of slavery being at the top. Second would be the popular beliefs in unfettered capitalism, libertarianism, and social Darwinism.

I sort of agree that there seems to be something broken with a large element of the USA-citizen's psyche. This is why I think a heavily armed US population is not a good thing.

Switzerland mandates that all males from, I think, 18-45, maintain a fully automatic military weapon in their homes in case of attack, yet people almost never use them in criminal activities or to settle scores.

This isnt strictly true. Switzerland has very relaxed gun laws but generally aligns with EU regulations.

Purchase of semi automatic weapons is allowed but not fully automatic, and indications are around 40 - 60% of households own a firearm. Nearly all of these are long barrelled weapons and there is no legislative basis for carrying weapons in public places. Firearms are generally stored in locked containers.

This implies they aren't really "self-defence" weapons in the traditional sense.

Firearms are not magical devices which convert owners to demonic killers.

It appears the problem is that Americans are demonic killers who are provided with firearms.

Here's the kind of gun control I want. When someone posts mass murderer or jihadist thoughts on social media, their right to own firearms should be revoked.

This would be an excellent utopia. However it requires some things which don't currently exist in the USA. For example it would need a centralised register of who is "allowed" to buy weapons which is checked for every firearms sale in the country.

It would need a clearly defined standard of what is considered "mass murder" thoughts so it wasn't open to subjective interpretation and whimsical enforcement.

It would need a way to allow police to instantly verify the right to own a weapon whenever they stopped someone for another offence.

It would need constant auditing to ensure rights were still correctly applied.

It would still fail to miss the overwhelming percentage of nutcases simply because it is often easier to see the "murderous thoughts" with hindsight when they look like the stroppy ramblings of a lonely youth.

Dirk PraetDecember 29, 2016 8:45 AM

@ Ratio

And the Rechtsstaat?

In the specific case of Anis Amri, the "Rechtsstaat" completely and utterly failed to apply the existing rule of law governing the matter. Amri should have been either deported or held in custody awaiting his deportation back to Tunesia. The same goes for an allegedly under-aged Afghan refugee who brutally raped and killed a German girl after having received a 10-year jail sentence in Greece for similar facts, still was able to travel about freely throughout Schengen.

The Abdeslams and their ilk are a different problem. Every EU country has several hundreds (or more) potentially dangerous individuals on its watch list, like radicalised jihadists with confirmed or suspected ties to Daesh, Syria returnees, far-right activists and the like. Effective round-the-clock monitoring can only be achieved by substantially increasing IC/LEA leeway and budgets on top of institutionalising a total surveillance state like was recently done in the UK by Theresa May's Investigatory Powers Act (AKA the Snoopers Charter). Thus compromising the privacy and civil liberties of an entire population.

Several leaders in other EU countries are now screaming for similar powers, including but not limited to encryption backdoors. That leaves us with a very simple choice: we either take the moral high ground and eventually invite the surveillance state into every aspect of our lives, with broad support of the majority of the population, or we compromise and curtail the free movement of a very specific group of people whose barbaric ideology is on par with that of the nazis or that of the Indian thuggee cult.

@GreenSquirrel

There are some people who appear to believe that allowing freedom of movement to the specific group of people you mention gives them a better society than one which has to be able to enforce the controls necessary to restrict that freedom.

Schengen is one of the most important realisations of the EU, but was never designed to cope with roaming terrorists or a massive influx of immigrants whose identity and background has not or cannot be established. The only way to prevent those borders from being closed again under pressure of populists such as Orban, Wilders and Le Pen is by at least implementing some of the restrictions I mentioned in one of my previous posts, enforcement of which does not necessarily entail a return to pre-Schengen border controls. And which is exactly what I'm trying to prevent too.

Brexit and Trump eventually happened because way too few politicians took their proponents and the opinion of the silent majority serious. Can we please not make that same mistake again and lose Schengen too?

@ Sancho_P

This will not prevent, on the contrary, some of them to murder innocents.

On top of serious integration issues with specific groups of existing 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants, Western European is also struggling with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, many also from North African descent, that are not eligible for asylum or subsidiary protection and in practice have no prospects whatsoever on this continent. In Germany alone, there are currently over 200k people whose applications have been rejected, should leave the country but stay around either because they refuse to go or because their countries of origin refuse to take them back.

They make for excellent IS recruiting material, and the longer they are allowed to stay, the more prone to crime or radicalised they risk to become. I have no solutions for this problem, but I do know that neither answering the call of populists nor burying your head in the stand is one of them.

vas pupDecember 29, 2016 10:03 AM

When you have Rechtsstaat, you may get death squad:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37172002
Due process (aka justice system) does not provide fairness as well (murderer got free pass on technicality, and innocent went to prison on plea bargain).
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to cut ‘limb’(criminals) to safe ‘organism’ as a whole(society), but death squad does not provide reliable ‘diagnostics’ on what ‘limb’ to be cut off because of lack of external mechanisms of verification (‘second opinion’).

Clive RobinsonDecember 29, 2016 10:14 AM

@ GreenSquirrel,

For me, I would rather take the risks associated with the freedoms.

In what respect?

Freedom of movment also means freedom for labour to move.

It's something many employers are more than happy to exploit to keep labour costs low and profit high. In the UK for instance, many builders and other trades persons voted for Brexit, on the gamble that whilst economically things would be worse for the UK in general, they personaly hoped they would see a more significant wage rise. Because of the assumption Eastern Europeans working for low wages would get booted out, thus their depressing trade wages would ease or cease altogether.

I very much doubt that potential terrorism featured in the average Brexit voter. Partly because the Met Police attempts at getting terrorist convictions had descended to prosecuting for "terrorist poetry" and stopping under age girls from "running away to find husbands to abuse them". The real facts appear to be that either we've rounded up all the proto-terrorists in the UK or they have become so clever they are ghosts not committing acts of terrorism.

What the actual reality is few in the UK know or care enough to consider terrorism.

As you and I know the numbers were as with all terrorists very low to start with, and many proto-terrorists saw more value to their efforts fighting in the middle east. Which leaves the question of what they will do when they realise that fighting in the middle east is not going to achive very much if anything at all, and they are not the ones who will see anything benificial out of it. Thus they will become unwanted unloved and probably dead as the politics in the region change...

GreenSquirrelDecember 29, 2016 11:02 AM

@Clive

I pretty much agree with you entirely.

Freedom of movment also means freedom for labour to move.

I agree, but I dont have much of a problem with freedom of labour movement.

While I am not a die-hard capitalist, I do believe that the economy eventually balances things out. If employers keep wages down by hiring low-paid employees, then either no one can afford their goods or other jobs have to exist to support the raised wages for their customers.

The end result is that some jobs are very low paid because they require a low-skilled workforce so the perception is anyone can do the job. (I am not saying I think this is true).

For British people feeling the pressure from Eastern Europeans coming here and stealing their work there are some harsh choices to be made, but they are all better for society:

1) Skill up. Make use of the education system free to all and simply be better than the competition to win work.
2) Move. If you cant find work here, go abroad and work. The problem for British people is largely linguistic though but this needs to change.
3) Retrain. If you are a builder and you cant compete with Polish builders, change jobs. There is no automatic right to succeed in the industry of your choice.

The reality is, as the semi-humorous statement runs, if someone who cant speak English, doesn't know their way around the place and has never been in the UK workforce before beats you at a job interview, there is something badly wrong with you.

Slightly cruel jokes aside, economic migrants are only a short term change to wages. Eventually they settle down and demand the same rates of pay as locals, or the standards of living back home rise enough that they need more to send home.

GreenSquirrelDecember 29, 2016 11:08 AM

@Dirk Praet

The only way to prevent those borders from being closed again under pressure of populists such as Orban, Wilders and Le Pen is by at least implementing some of the restrictions I mentioned in one of my previous posts, enforcement of which does not necessarily entail a return to pre-Schengen border controls.

Ok, this seems reasonable and highlights my ignorance around the specifics of your suggestions.

However, I really cant see how you can prevent one group of people crossing a border without checking everyone - short of saying "no [group of people] anywhere in the EU." Even with the latter control, you face the problem of illegals entering through the very porous external borders. This is the sort of argument which eventually leads to suggestions of building walls along the border....

vas pupDecember 29, 2016 12:54 PM

Trucks as weapons - hard to stop
http://www.dw.com/en/trucks-as-weapons-hard-to-stop/a-36943275
“Now, it appears, the security features in the truck did indeed prevent the worst from happening. A joint investigation of the German public broadcasters NDR and WDR, together with the daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" came to the conclusion that the trucks automatic breaks stopped the attacker from killing many more people.
The incident showed that, in principle, it is possible to use a truck or a car as a weapon and to kill people. But it also revealed that active security systems pay off: They work, and they can save lives.
But, if the sensors do notice a collision they will overrule the driver and activate the breaks. Apparently, this is what happened at the Berlin Christmas market.


Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) is required by law in all newly registered trucks in the EU since 2013. Scania calls its system Advanced Emergency Brake (AEB).
The system is mainly intended for situations on highways and freeways. When the distance to the car or truck driving ahead is getting too short, the system will first warn the driver with a visual or acoustic warning signal. If the driver does not react and the distance gets even shorter the truck will automatically reduce the speed - to a standstill.
But the driver has the ability of overruling the system. Usually hitting the gas pedal is sufficient. The reason: The system could wrongly identify something as an obstacle that is not one. Then, the driver has to make the decision.
A typical situation for this is a car, parked at the side of a narrow and winding road. The robotic system would normally believe that the road is blocked, but the truck driver knows, that he can get past. By hitting the gas he disables the brake assistant and continues his journey.
But, if the sensors do notice a collision they will overrule the driver and activate the breaks. Apparently, this is what happened at the Berlin Christmas market.
What systems protect pedestrians?
For speeds below 30 kilometers (or 20 miles per hour), there is a system called "city safety": It warns the driver of collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists. Such warning systems are usually combined with robotic assistants for dangerous situations at street intersections or at a turn-off, where bicyclists or pedestrians are in danger of getting into the blind spot of the driver. A typical situation often resulting in accidents: The truck takes a sharp turn, while the driver overlooks a bicyclist approaching on a bicycle path from behind parked cars.
Will it ever be possible to prevent the abuse of trucks?
If a determined culprit is eager enough, he will probably always find a way of committing crimes with vehicles. Even in an unlikely science fiction scenario, where all trucks are fully autonomous, controlled by satellite and driving around only on clearly defined surfaces, a killer may still find a way of doing it. Maybe next time, it won't be a truck but a construction or agricultural vehicle. Bulldozers, for example, will certainly never have a built-in anti collision system.

JohnDecember 29, 2016 4:09 PM

@ All the gun-lovers :
Before invoking Switzerland as your Utopian Armed Paradise, you may want to look at the gun-related homicide-rate of that country : 3.08 in 100.000 .
Compare that to the UK's measly 0.23 in 100.000, Spains 0.62, Germanys 1.01 or Denmarks 1.28 .
Switzerland has one of the highest gun-homicide rates in what we used to call Western Europe . The only European countries with comparable rates are, strangely, the ones with equally easy access to firearms .
The actual murder-rate in Switzerland is 0.5 in 100.000, placing that country in the absolute low end of the scale, but that the Swiss do not use their guns to kill others or "settle scores" is simply a bunch of gun-loving NRA-propaganda hogwash .
People sometimes kill each other, and when they do - They tend to use whatever weapon is readily at hand . And I can almost guarantee : Many guns does NOT equal lower crime-rates . At least, I see absolutely ZERO evidence in the statistics to support that claim . Quite the opposite actually ..

AnselmDecember 29, 2016 4:54 PM

The reason why hardly any gun-related homicides happen in the UK is that hardly anyone has a gun. They really cracked down on private ownership of anything that isn't mostly only usable for hunting, so pistols or the AR-15-style rifles so beloved by US gun nuts are virtually non-existent in private hands in the UK. (This doesn't mean that the British don't have other ways of doing one another in.)

In Switzerland, members of the militia do have an assault rifle in their closet but they aren't generally issued live ammunition for it to keep at home. OTOH, gun laws in Switzerland are quite liberal, and many Swiss enjoy engaging in marksmanship competitions. So in Switzerland, gun homicides don't tend to be committed with army-issued rifles but with other guns that people keep around for sport.

Generally in Europe, unlike the USA, very few people outside of law enforcement or forestry are allowed to go about their daily lives with loaded firearms at hand. Obtaining a licence to carry a handgun is usually quite difficult, time-consuming and costly. People who do shoot for sport must keep their weapons and ammunition under lock and key at home and may only transport them between their residence and the shooting range, unloaded. The numbers and types of gun one gets to own for sport purposes is also fairly strictly prescribed.

ab praeceptisDecember 29, 2016 5:10 PM

John

For a start, your numbers are wrong. Based on the most up to date official statistics, there is no "murder rate". There is a category that might be translated as "dead by impact of force" that stands for all swiss people who died by someone else applying some kind of force. Kindly note that that also includes cases of unintentional killings.

That number, one might think "typical discrete swiss people", is not even directly mentioned but must be calculated as the difference of the only two subgroups of the main item "accidents and impact of force". The two subgroups mentioned are "accidents" and "suicides". The unmentioned difference, i.e. the "dead by impact of force" is about 2.7 in 100k people. That number is not any further divided; all we know from official statistics is that about 2.7 in 100000 swiss people died by impact of force.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that all those 2.7 in 100000 are murders by gun.

Then still the number of suicides is more than 7 times higher and, in fact, the only lower number found in the whole list is that of people who died due to liver cirrhosis.

Looking at the total numbers only 1 in about 300 is dead due to impact of force (presumably by intention and through another person).

Looking at other official statistics it turns out that the number of people who are dead by guns are actually almost 90% *suicides*. In only about 12% of the cases where people died by a gun it was another person who killed them; well noted not always intentionally; indeed, the number for murders is about 9%.

Now, let's bring those numbers together.

When about 3 in 100000 die by guns and only 9% of that are murders but 88% are suicides, then the vast majority goes into the suicide group and only about 0.3 in 100000 dead are murders by gun.

Now, some might argue that dead is dead and that suicides are largely due to the easy availability of guns. Well, that would be wrong again. Only some 10% to 15% of suicides are done with guns.

Now, don't get me wrong. As a (not swiss) european I have no hard position on pro or anti gun. Probably there are indeed to many guns across the ocean and quite probably many of those are in the wrong hands to make it worse.

But I dislike number bending - and your numbers have been streched heavily. Actually the swiss numbers are quite good, but they fail to prove nra's point anyway if for another reason: Having a gun is a part of the swiss defense system which also means that the vast majority of gun owners have been *well trained* by the military plus they have to go through additional obligatory (short) military service every once in a while, so they *keep getting trained*. *That* is a decisive difference to the star spangled nation,

Sancho_PDecember 29, 2016 6:12 PM

@Dirk Praet

It seems you too avoid my first and main point, but that’s OK as the topic here is about the risk to distinct between two groups, the dangerous and the harmless.

So @Bruce’s topic is very similar to the (your?) view that we only have to (somehow) get rid of the known dangerous and all will be fine.

They are already here and more will come, from both groups.
And these groups are not static.
Only the distinction will be flawed because it can’t be done in real time (um, below 100 ms).

And then there is the “somehow”.

AnselmDecember 29, 2016 7:02 PM

Having a gun is a part of the swiss defense system which also means that the vast majority of gun owners have been *well trained* by the military plus they have to go through additional obligatory (short) military service every once in a while, so they *keep getting trained*. *That* is a decisive difference to the star spangled nation.

And incidentally it is way closer to the 2nd Amendment idea of a “well-regulated militia” than anything the NRA could come up with.

chris lDecember 29, 2016 7:47 PM

@Pete

All US government employees, as well as all contractors who need extended access to USG facilities or computer systems already have at least the same background check as the TSA, if not more. Military members and DOD civilian employees can use the number on their CAC as a "known traveler number" to get precheck. The rest of US government employees/contractors use a similar badge with slightly different numbering and aren't granted automatic precheck, though they probably should be. I've been flying for almost 50 years, and was flying again a few weeks after flights resumed after 9/11. I have a federal ID that will let me get up close and personal with billion-dollar spacecraft, but if I want precheck I have to pay for it (or get it as a random since I'm a United FF, and I seem to be getting it better than 50% of the time without having signed up).

I suspect that the main reason for it is that it would look like a special perk for government employees and people who have to wait in the long line would complain.

Clive RobinsonDecember 29, 2016 11:49 PM

@ Anselm,

The reason why hardly any gun-related homicides happen in the UK is that hardly anyone has a gun.

Whilst few do own guns of any sort in the UK, hand guns have been subject to an outright ban for UK citizens (which caused real problems when we had the Olympics in 2012).

But even before the hand gun ban the number of shootings was still quite low.

Interestingly of those few was how the legal / illegal figures split prior to the hand gun ban. That is few if any legaly owned / held guns were used for crimes of any kind. Thus the changes to gun death figures in the UK are very heavily related to criminal activity.

Further prior to the hand gun ban appart from unrifled "shot guns" --that also include "field pieces" such as cannons-- the requirments on storage of legaly owned guns were quite strict which ment that few actually got stolen. Thus illegal hand guns were mainly imports or conversions from things like replicas, starting guns etc.

Which might suggest that measures to stop easy supply of no-name / street guns and amunition would reduce the supply for criminal activities as well as reduce the easy accessibility of guns in domestic environments. After all a "crime of passion" is very unlikely to be said to have happen when first you have to go and unlock a gun cupboard, to get the gun and magazine, then unlock another cupboard to get at the ammunition, then load the gun, cock it etc... It becomes way to much like premeditated at that point.

Thus as @ab praeceptis has pointed out you need to be very careful how you interpret the figures.

It would thus be of much more interest to see how the legaly owned / held figures break down in other countries as well as by crime type etc.

The problem of course is the way the figures are recorded. In the US the figures often give the impression that information is being deliberately suppressed such that pulling out what is and is not crime related shootings / deaths and likewise also those relating to ownership status and age of the person pulling the trigger.

The reality is I suspect the shear volume of gun related incidents in the US cause the figures to be distorted due to the unwanted extra workload involved with obtaining the information to record it.

Dirk PraetDecember 30, 2016 4:29 AM

@ Sancho_P

So @Bruce’s topic is very similar to the (your?) view that we only have to (somehow) get rid of the known dangerous and all will be fine.

Absolutely not. My point is that efficiently dealing with the "known dangerous" would make for a good start, especially when it can (and should) be done within the framework of the existing rule of law. When you put a spare wheel in the trunk of your car, it won't protect you from getting hit by a lorry ignoring a traffic light, but at least you don't have to worry about a flat tire.

@ GreenSquirrel

Even with the latter control, you face the problem of illegals entering through the very porous external borders.

One of the main premises Schengen was built upon, was the ability to secure our outer borders, and which - like I said before - is one of the primary duties of any nation under the rule of law. Which we are incapable of. We instead depend on the friggin' sultan of Turkey and several non-EU Balkan countries to do so. The situation on several Greek isles off the Turkish coast is nothing short of a humanitarian disaster. The agency tasked with protecting our borders in the Mediterranean in practice is an understaffed rescue-at-sea operation allowing people to drown by the thousands because our so-called leaders after more than two years still fail to agree on a common solution. Which unfortunately makes a Schengen overhaul even more inevitable.

While I agree that practical enforcement of the proposed modifications is going to be rather difficult maintaining current intra-Schengen random checks only, I'm fairly confident that consequent application thereof under pain of electronic tagging, detention and even loss of asylum rights would rapidly generate a dissuasive effect on the target group. Just like the deal with Turkey and the lockdown of the Balkan route has also significantly diminished the influx of refugees, regardless of whether or not those were indeed the most appropriate or effective solutions (and which I personally think are not).

... if someone who cant speak English, doesn't know their way around the place and has never been in the UK workforce before beats you at a job interview, there is something badly wrong with you.

That would be true for customer-facing jobs only and hardly applicable for construction or transport jobs. The real issue here is not the lower wages, but the massively abused practice of social dumping, which is yet another fine example of capitalism at work, and under which a small group of people make a mint by viciously exploiting foreign labour while at the same time putting tens of thousands of local workers out of a job. It was one of the main drivers behind Brexit, and remains to date one of the main anti-EU arguments of populist parties all over Western Europe.

GreenSquirrelDecember 30, 2016 7:01 AM

@Dirk Praet

While I agree that practical enforcement of the proposed modifications is going to be rather difficult maintaining current intra-Schengen random checks only, I'm fairly confident that consequent application thereof under pain of electronic tagging, detention and even loss of asylum rights would rapidly generate a dissuasive effect on the target group.

Sorry, I dont follow what you are suggesting here.

Is your suggestion for Schengen to enhance the external border checks, placing greater onus on the border states to prevent illegal migration or something else?

That would be true for customer-facing jobs only and hardly applicable for construction or transport jobs.

I sort of disagree here. If you are the gangmaster for a construction team, you need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. Part of the problem for British people is that Eastern Europeans are often at least as literate/fluent in English as our own construction workers. Same with transport jobs - if a Polish person can prove to be at least as good a driver on English roads as an English person.....

[...] a small group of people make a mint by viciously exploiting foreign labour while at the same time putting tens of thousands of local workers out of a job

I agree with you here, but part of the problem is an unwillingness / inability for the out of work workforce to adapt to the new world.

We could argue about whether or not they should be forced to adapt (migrate, reskill etc) but the fact is work has always changed - from feudal farmworkers to industrialised factories to offices. All that is happening here is a Luddite resistance to the inevitable change.

It was one of the main drivers behind Brexit, and remains to date one of the main anti-EU arguments of populist parties all over Western Europe.

I agree here as well. This, to me, is the bit that will come back and bite people the most. The idea that preventing migrant workers doing low paid work will in anyway translate to an improved economy amazes me.

Employers now have can either increase the cost of goods to cover the increased labour cost (and most likely exceeding the costs creating a net loss for the purchasing public) or cease trading in the UK (putting more out of work).

What worries me is that this isnt a short term hit. Some employers will benefit and this will be used to convince the public that the principle is sound.

Dirk PraetDecember 30, 2016 10:07 AM

@ GreenSquirrel

Is your suggestion for Schengen to enhance the external border checks, placing greater onus on the border states to prevent illegal migration or something else?

I refer to the last paragraph of one of my previous comments in this thread. This has, of course, also implications on outer border control, which we can further discuss either off-line or in the Squid thread. I have already inadvertently derailed this one into yet another gun debate, and would rather not incur @Moderator's furious anger by going further off-topic with my views on the European refugee crisis.

If you are the gangmaster for a construction team, you need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.

The foreman indeed does, but it's not a prerequisite for the rest of the team. I know of plenty of construction crews all around town here that speak Bulgarian, Romanian or even Ukrainian only. In my former neighbourhood, there were several apartment buildings where a slumlord was housing scores of semi-legal Balkanese construction workers in the most awful of conditions, none of whom spoke anything else but their native tongue. Every morning, they were picked up in small vans around 6AM not to return before 6 or 7PM in the evening.

... part of the problem is an unwillingness / inability for the out of work workforce to adapt to the new world.

There is no denying that in a changing world we all have to constantly adapt and re-train. Today's super-duper money making skill can be obsolete tomorrow. It is however a bridge too far that ordinary people are forced out of their jobs, their homes and their land due to a system of blatantly unfair competition that (as usual) only benefits the happy few. Ask anyone who voted Brexit or Trump.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thys is still fighting an uphill battle to reform the current EU guidelines on the matter, but which understandably is met with steep resistance by mostly Eastern European and Baltic member states. The same members, by the way, who are vehemently opposed to taking in refugees while at the same time exporting to the West hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of their own citizens.

Cranky ObserverDecember 30, 2016 1:14 PM

= = = thesaucymugwump@0:41 AM: Your example of Missouri is a great example of how statistics can be misleading. Missouri does have a high percentage of gun ownership and it has a high crime rate, but most of that crime is centered around East Saint Louis, the area including Ferguson. Look at FBI data and you will discover that East Saint Louis is one of the most dangerous areas in the entire country and has been for decades. It's also mostly black with poor job prospects.= = =
East St. Louis is in Illinois, 18 miles and a wide river away from Ferguson Missouri.

Sancho_PDecember 30, 2016 6:20 PM

@Dirk Praet

I don’t get your spare wheel example, however:

I fully agree it’s best to use a bucket when water is dripping from the ceiling.
But I think we both agree we have to stop the water at the source.

The dripping water is what we see, only the source of the problem is unattended.

OK, let’s ignore that, I’ll hand you the bucket.

Now tell me how to empty it because our drainage is blocked, windows are locked and our neighbors won’t be happy when we empty the buckets into the shared staircase?

The other misconception (and you’ve already mentioned it) is the term “integration”:
- It doesn’t work.

It’s not that “we” have to (or even could) integrate “them”,
- they have to adapt.

A stranger in all countries of the world I know what I’m talking about.

I’ve enjoyed the souq in Aleppo, even relished the muezzin in Cairo, but I don’t want to hear that in Zurich.

What tastes in Morocco will not taste in Finland.
Arabs are not Germans.
The world is colorful, diverse, rich of cultures and full of beautiful places.
We should have respected that.

Dirk PraetDecember 31, 2016 6:28 AM

@ Sancho_P

The world is colorful, diverse, rich of cultures and full of beautiful places.
We should have respected that.

Having been about a bit myself, I cannot but fully concur with that. The issue on the table however is how to deal with disaffected and displaced migrant groups that either through circumstances (war, famine, poverty, natural disasters) or by their own free choosing move away from their ancestral lands and end up rejecting the society and culture of the place where they have resettled. We're talking those who refuse to integrate, assimilate, adapt or whatever word you want to use for it and instead withdraw in parallel societies like Molenbeek that are a breeding ground for poverty, discontent, crime and radicalisation.

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