Magnetometer’s – otherwise known as metal detectors – are the newest addition to North Dakota’s State Capitol Building. They are likely a response to the recent and sometimes pathetically hostile Dakota Access Pipeline protests. I have no idea how long they have been in place now, since I do not get to Bismarck as often as I would like. Regardless, I could not help but wonder how effective they are as a crime deterrent when I experienced them this last week.
In one sense, I got my own answer through experience. I went through for the first time early one morning without any problem at all. However, when I went through for the second time later that morning, the alarm went off. I was quite surprised by the alarm, considering I literally had no different variables from the earlier scan. I was dressed the exact same and had the same items on my person.
So, what was the culprit? With the use of the wand, the kind gentlemen running security (who, by the way, appears to be unarmed) determined it was my belt buckle. The very same belt buckle that the metal detector had not picked up on the first scan.
I was not alone in my experience. When I went through the scanner the following day, a gentleman behind me commented that he had set off the alarm earlier when he went through, but had not set it off this time. He expressed his surprise because he was wearing the same thing.
Aside from what appears to be an inconsistency in the equipment they are using at the Capitol, I still could not help but wonder how practical metal detectors are as a deterrent to crime, even if they are working properly. Somehow, I just cannot envision a person who wants to harm others walking through security at the risk of being caught with a weapon. Which would seem to support the idea of their use, right? For the most part, I do not believe so.
I suppose this could be likened to the gun control issue. Anybody that is honest knows that gun control does not work. Criminals do not obey gun laws. If they want to harm someone, they will do it. That is what makes them criminals.
Likewise, is it possible that metal detectors are the same? A person who really wants to harm someone is going to find a way to do so. Multiple studies have shown this to be true. For example, numbers show that despite increased security measures in schools (including metal detectors), school shootings have not decreased. The Brussels attacks left security personnel wondering how 31 people could be killed and nearly 200 injured with the security measures that were in place (including metal detectors).
Now, I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not trying to be critical. I believe these added measures have been implemented with the best of intentions. Yet, I think it is a valid question. Just how effective are they? Personally, I do not believe they are very effective at all. Which makes me wonder… Do we have a false sense of security at our state’s Capitol Building?