It was a Sunday night in, I think, 1982, and I arrived home from my late night walk with Goliath at the U.S. Capitol grounds. We’d had a lovely walk, on the always safe grounds.
When I got home, my roommate Keily met me at the door.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I responded, thinking she was weird.
“They just reported on the 10 O’Clock News that a bomb went off at the Capitol.”
“Oh!” I responded, and sat down to watch the news.
If I had heard or seen anything, I would have reported it. But in fact, there was nothing unusual about my walk that night. Nothing at all.
Tuesday morning, I headed to the Rayburn House Office Building bright and early to attend a hearing. I was stopped by the guard on my way in. My briefcase and my purse were searched.
36 Hours Later.
Stupidly, I cracked a joke to a security guard who was suddenly actually guarding security.
“Now why did you have to say that?” he said. “Now I really have to look.”
As the days went on, more and more security was added. No longer could I be at two places at once. I (and half of the other twenty-somethings in DC) had long been leaving my briefcase in one hearing with a tape recorder running while my body attended a second one. That became a thing of the past.
Within a very short time, security increased by leaps and bounds. Metal detectors were installed; the life of a low-level lobbyist became more of a pain in the ass than it had been.
Our Congressional Representatives and our Senators were protected, though. For a long time, I thought that was fine.
Until mass shootings became common. And until those very same Congressmen and Senators refused to act to protect people in the US from the danger of random gunfire. Until fealty to the National Rifle Association (the NRA) and keeping their jobs — became more important than the safety of regular people. More important than protecting students in their schools, shoppers in their stores, workers in their offices.
So here’s my idea:
Let’s take down those metal detectors. Stop paying for them to have security guards at every door.
The real world is a dangerous place. And the folks who refuse to make it less so, should not hide behind shields the rest of us don’t have.
* * *
I am not advocating violence against Congress or against anybody. I oppose violence — and I am strongly in favor of sensible gun control laws. But until the folks who make the laws — or in this case, DON’T make the laws — have the same concerns as the rest of us, well, nothing is going to happen.
And in fact, in the 1960s, Governor Ronald Reagan actually repealed open carry laws when Black Panthers led by Huey Newton made the legislators a wee bit nervous.