In Matters Of National Safety, It’s Still Too Political

I recently had the privilege of being a guest speaker at several events in the great (and very cold) state of Minnesota. I flew up to the area twice over three weeks, and gave a series of presentations on proactive safety and security methodologies. I was also invited to take part in reading some of my book with a Spoken Word group.

Needless to say, it was a great time: The community was actively engaged in the importance of safety and security with today’s world, and like most people I run into, they want to do something about violence that seems to be ever present.

But for some reason, wherever I am, the conversation always seems to turn into a political discussion. Whether it’s Minnesota or Maryland, New Mexico or New York…. People want to refocus the topic of safety and security into a political discussion.

And time and time again, this turns into a political debate. And then I find myself in the role of Geraldo Rivera hosting a talk show with guests John Metzger and his white supremacist supporters and Roy Innis, the National Chairman for the Congress of Racial Equality (you should “YouTube” this, it actually happened once. The result was Geraldo getting his nose shattered by a chair during the inevitable melee that ensued).

I’m not in the business of hosting Battle Royales. In fact, I’m trying to do the exact opposite. I’m trying to stop violence, not start it.

It usually starts with a seemingly innocent statement or question:

“We just need to do something about these damn guns!”

“If I was allowed to carry my .45, this wouldn’t be a problem!”

“What do you think, Mr. Wells? Doesn’t gun control make sense?”

“How can you possibly think that arming teachers is bad?!”

This typically degenerates into a political firestorm from some of the other members of the audience. I’ve had guests explode on gun control, on immigration, mental health, law enforcement… I even had a lovely guest once preach to me about how the true solution to violence in our community is to have a government regulated system where families can be limited based on a quotient for children in their home (and then there was some bizarre rambling afterwards about how China follows this model…. GREAT. Let’s just go ahead and do what the premiere communist country is doing. Nothing like a little population control to stop threat-related violence in a community. And by the way, China still has serious community violence issues).

When it comes to politics, NAPS is apolitical. When it comes to guns, gun ownership and gun control debates, NAPS is in the business of providing training and education to promote proactive safety. Ours is information that should be used before the decision of a firearm comes into play.

So, here’s what I know. Like NAPS, violence is apolitical too. It doesn’t care if the victim is liberal, or conservative; it does not ask its target if they are a republican or a democrat, if a person is straight or homosexual. The assailant (or assailants) may be attacking for a specific reason…. Omar Matteen targeted the Pulse nightclub because he hated the homosexual community; Eric and Dylan Klebold targeted Columbine because it represented everything they hated in high school. But ultimately, they and other attackers like them did not care when they started their rampage. They didn’t bother to ask everyone if they agreed with their political philosophies; they just shot everything they saw, and killed everyone they could.

“Violence is apolitical” is a hard message to get across to people these days. Society seems genuinely committed to their respective political passions, even when violence continues to rise in our country. Just last night in New Orleans, 28 people were seriously injured when a driver plowed his vehicle into a crowd of innocent people who were watching the Mardi Gras parades. Early reports suggest that the driver was intoxicated, but he was also ranting about wanting someone to kill him. I would be surprised if his actions were motivated strictly from his inebriation. As more information is released, you can bet this person had other motives too.

What I do know is this: The driver didn’t care about the political opinions of his targets, or their skin color, or their gender preference; he just wanted to hit as many people as he could with his car.

What’s my point? It’s simple. It’s understandable and expected that we as a national community are not going to meet in the middle on most issues of the day, but if we don’t start coming to effective compromises with matters of safety and security, then we are going to continue to be targets to violence.

 

Jason Wells is the author of “Our Path To Safety: A U.S. Secret Service Agent’s Guide To Creating A Safe Community”. He is the President and Founder of the National Advancements for Proactive Safety, an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes and a former Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. Jason is a contributing writer to the online publication Robious Corridor and an honorary board member of the National Senior Citizen’s Committee, and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Forbes, Newsweek, Slate and Fatherly.