No, Mayor Eric Adams Can’t Put Metal Detectors at Every NYC Subway Stop

Yesterday saw a gunman wearing a gas mask, worker’s vest, and opened fire in the New York City subway station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. He shot at least 10 people and injured 23 others before taking many to the hospital.

It was a terrible tragedy made worse by the fact that the police still have not caught a suspect, and that cameras inside the subway station—which should be in working condition and able to aide the search for the shooter—were non-operational.

Journalists have also had the opportunity to propose terrible security measures. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has given credence to these ideas.

Is it time to put in metal detectors that prevent weapons-wielding people from entering the train? Maurice DuBois was an anchor at CBS New York. Adams answered the question last night. “People need to feel secure. “Is this one of the solutions?”

Adams said, “I believe that, and I am often criticised when I speak about technology being used for identifying those who are carrying illegal weapons.” Adams awkwardly reacted after he agreed. This is why I sent my deputy mayor of public security to search the whole country and world to determine ways we could identify guns. Technology and safety must be merged, and that’s what I am willing to do.

People use it in Yankee Stadium, office buildings and at the Garden. [referring to Madison Square Garden]DuBois said, “And on and so on.” You have to wonder why the subway?

Adams responded, “You are correct.” Adams replied, “We have a number of ways it can be used.” The communications officer for the mayor has since walked back Adams’ comments.

As you can see, DuBois seems to be pushing Adams into agreeing to a policy and not considering how feasible it is to implement. Adams responded by agreeing to the policy as a sign of concern. 

But the problem here was not lack of gun control laws—New York City makes it incredibly hard to legally carry a gun on your person—or lack of metal detectors. Problem was when an evil person committed a criminal act, and this is something you have to be aware of while living with 8.5 million others.

Metal detectors, or—God forbid—TSA-style agents manning them, asking to search people’s bags as they enter any one of the city’s 472 subway stations, would be a logistical nightmare. Nobody in New York would ever want their cell phone or vape pen on their person. They could also flash their electronic devices around to show other riders how they can be taken later in the trip.

On average, the subway sees 5.5 million riders per week (or so it was prior to the pandemic). Most people use the subway to get to and from work quickly. TSA-style searches would need to work quickly and handle an incredible volume. They also have to be accessible 24/7 because New Yorkers often take the subway home around 3:00 a.m. from questionably coherent states. The invitation to more interaction between cops and harried citizens, as well as between TSA-type officers and harried citizens, can lead to a rise in petty conflicts and escalate. It also allows for police to arrest innocent people, such as drug dealers, for illegal, though mostly non-harmful, activities.

This security theater, which was first tried in Washington, D.C. in 2010, was an utter failure. The random searches were intended to detect suspicious behavior and straphangers were allowed to opt-out. Flex Your Rights organizers distributed flyers in D.C. to let residents know how they could opt-out of these searches. This nonprofit helps individuals protect themselves while interacting with police. The searches did not produce much. There were zero arrests in the first 18 months. However, Metro riders expressed concern at agents going through their personal belongings.

Adams’s agreement to make the MTA more similar to the TSA was quickly retracted. After 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration was not created to stop the terrorists. It instead harassed travelers, freaking out about water bottles, and harassing them, while failing its task of making air travel safer. There are reasons‘s J.D. Tuccille. TSA’s 20-year history hasn’t seen a single terrorist plot stopped. The TSA can’t detect explosives or weapons consistently.

Too many times, officials resort to violent acts as an excuse for imposing more restrictions and incontinence on citizens without the intention of committing horrible acts. They don’t end up catching criminals, who are often wily enough to evade existing laws—how did the Sunset Park shooter get a gun in New York City, after all?—but they do end up lowering everyone else’s quality of life, layering on restriction after restriction until urban life becomes more inconvenient than it’s worth. Adams and DuBois would be proud. Try People to move out of the largest city in the country.