About mid-day Tuesday I see a new alert come in from WMUR about the Mall down in Burlington, MA being cleared because of a gunman on the loose. As you would expect, I found this news shocking. I continued to check their site through the morning/ afternoon watching for updates. With this kind of alarming headline I expected to see a follow up story about people being shot or a mentally deranged person being taken into custody, instead the follow up comes out that it was a man carrying an umbrella that was mistaken as a rifle.
Have we become that paranoid as a society that just the thought of someone carrying a gun cause wide spread panic and the evacuation of an entire mall?
Few things that came to my mind...
1) Even if a guy in the mall was carrying a gun as long as he is minding his own business and not attempting to harm others is that really a problem? The 2nd amendment gives us the right to keep and bare arms.
2) Several malls have sporting good stores or anchor stores like K-Mart that actually sell guns and rifles. If someone purchased a gun in the mall how exactly would they get it to their car other then walking through the mall carrying it?
3) Toys stores sell some semi realistic looking toy guns, had they considered it could be a toy before clearing the entire mall?
I've heard different versions of who called it in, one being a mall cop, another a random shopper and the other being the Easter bunny in the center of the mall. What I don't get is why if they suspected the guy was carrying a gun did they not follow him at least using the security cameras so when police arrived they could take them right to him?
If someone has a legal right to carry a weapon they can carry a weapon, end of story. They shouldn't be concerned that an entire mall is going to be cleared out because of one persons irrational fear of a legal activity. And how many people are blissfully unaware of the shopper with the concealed weapon walking past them? Seeing a gun strapped over someone shoulder should not be cause for this kind of wide spread alarm.
However, as a private business a shop or mall can put limits on what it allows within its doors. If a store feels they can increase business by putting up metal detectors and patting down customers as they walk in or out then by all means they should be free to do so but I personally would not allow myself to be subjected to that.
In the end though, statists and the anti liberty crowd are already using this as justification of why stores should have metal detectors or beef up their security. And before you write this off as wild speculation consider this story...
In 2005 two women were stabbed by a woman who was randomly attacking people with knives. They sued Nordstroms and were awarded $1.6 million because the jury found that the store failed to do enough to prevent the attack. In other words the store was being held responsible for the acts of a crazy person because they choose to attack people in their location.