Better safe …

Published 1:55 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

After it was learned that a man carrying an umbrella triggered the lockdown of East Carolina University on Wednesday, some people criticized law-enforcement personnel for overreacting to a man “armed” with an umbrella. Several of those folks made jokes about it.
ECU and the law-enforcement agencies involved in the matter did the right thing by implementing the lockdown. Better a lockdown then finding out the man was carrying an umbrella than no lockdown and the man using a rifle to fire on students, faculty members and others.
In this day and age, isn’t it possible for someone to disguise a rifle as an umbrella? Anyone recall the zip guns made popular decades ago? Some people would take the radio aerials off cars and turn them into weapons that fired bullets, mostly .22-caliber bullets. Modern-day zip guns sometimes take the form of a small Mini-Mag flashlight. Remember the terrorist who tried to detonate a shoe bomb?
Those very people who criticize law-enforcement and ECU officials for overreacting likely would be the very people who would be the first to condemn those officials for not responding appropriately if the man carrying the umbrella had been carrying a rifle and opened fire, killing and injuring people. The next time something similar happens on the ECU campus or other college campus, let’s pray the law-enforcement and college officials responding to the incident err on the side of caution and safety.
It would be better to hear a college official inform the public that a suspect was carrying an umbrella than to hear that official inform the public that a man using a rifle killed and injured students, faculty and law-enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way.
Then there are those who fault the media for reporting the story. We would rather report, “Sorry, it’s a false alarm” than “Five killed by gunman.” When it comes to people’s lives, being safe rather than sorry is always sound policy.