, Salem, MA

October 3, 2013

Letter: Citizens need to be vigilant

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

There is no doubt that university and city police and officials’ quick responses to last week’s attack was reassuring to the residents of Salem.

Your speculation that “anything could have happened, particularly if the suspect had been carrying a gun instead of a knife” (”A reassuring response to Salem State incident,” Sept. 30) is absolutely correct. Luckily, he was not, or I’m sure that the entire discussion would be focusing on what type of gun it was and how he got it and why we need to ban guns. Two people were still injured by a man with a knife and, luckily, not seriously.

This is an opportunity for university and city officials to provide citizens and students the tools to protect themselves from incidents like these. Both the bus driver and others thought something was wrong with this person from the moment he got on the bus. Too many times, these situations start with someone who is mentally unstable. It’s time to stop blaming guns and knives for these assaults. Being aware of threatening situations is the first step in preventing them. This is the only state in the country that requires individuals to be licensed to obtain pepper spray. This simple nonlethal device could potentially save someone from an attacker.

Ever since the first attack on the World Trade Center, there have been terrorist groups around the world who are intent on harming Americans. From the marathon bombings to the recent terrorist attack at the mall in Kenya and the U.S. Navy Yard attack, Americans should remain vigilant against persons or groups looking to harm us, whether here in this country or while traveling overseas. “That won’t happen here” doesn’t hold much water anymore. As we have also seen in the past, citizens who see something can prevent tragedies like the car bomb in Times Square that luckily did not detonate.

The gun debate will continue to polarize Americans, and there will certainly be other individuals or groups who are either mentally ill or terrorists who will somehow obtain guns or bombs to attack us. Citizens should be allowed the right to protect themselves from these threats. What if he had a gun? What if someone else stopped him before his attack? The police cannot be everywhere, on every bus, on every plane, at every mall and street corner. It is up to everyone to be vigilant.

Michael Caggiano