Metal detectors in place of action on gun violence

Mary Sanchez

The Happiest Place on Earth can only remain so by bracing against the possibility of children being mowed down by assault weapons as they await a turn on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster.

Walt Disney World, along with other theme parks, just caved to the threat of a mass shooting and will use metal detectors or handheld wands at the entrances.

It’s a sign of our times. And it’s not a very uplifting one.

Some see this as preparedness in the face of our new normal, but it’s really an abdication. Disney is locking itself up because Americans are starting to accept that nothing else can be done.

It happens because politicians are unwilling to do anything to actually make us safer in the form of expanded background checks or limits on gun ownership.

You can’t blame people for being scared. The sites of the most horrific gun attacks now form a grim shorthand: We speak of Columbine and Aurora and Virginia Tech, and now most recently San Bernardino.

The third anniversary of the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., passed with little notice as Disney installed its new detectors. Sandy Hook — where 20 children died — was the attack we all thought was so horrendous that it would spark movement for better forms of background checks for firearms purchases. Not so.

“Metal detectors are here to stay as part of society at schools, hospitals, theaters, at sporting events, theme park analyst Dennis Speigel told the Tampa Bay Times. “You are going to see more and more of this type of security instituted because it’s one of the first things they can do.”

The last part of his statement is key: Bracing with higher security is what societies do in lieu of the more difficult measures.

Polls show Americans support expanding background checks for all gun purchases, and want to keep guns from the hands of people who are dangerously mentally ill. Why don’t we also expect elected officials to do what they can to keep guns away from those who wish to cause harm?

Instead, we batten down the hatches, assume that everyone is carrying a gun, that a mass shooting can occur anywhere and it’s up to businesses to protect their customers.

Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star.