— Commentary by Benjamin Owen
A lengthy article from The Washington Post was published last month about the ShotSpotter. This network of rooftop sensors used to detect gunfire in Washington, DC has been in use for about eight years. There are other cities using this technology, as well. Although… I can’t imagine this being used here in Tennessee; where non-criminal gunfire is common.
“The blast of a gun is different from other explosive sounds because it is directional, meaning that the noise changes its frequency as the bullet moves through space. A person may hear a gunshot a half-mile away if the gun is fired toward him. But a person 200 yards away may hear nothing if the gun is fired away from him.”
“Once sensors register a potential gunshot, they transmit the data to the ShotSpotter computer network for analysis. The computer server compares the time that each sensor logged the sound to calculate the likely location of its source, a process of triangulation and multilateration. The more sensors that capture the noise, the more accurate the location. A sound detected by 10 sensors can be located to within two feet.”
“Reviewers can also try to determine whether the gunfire came from an automatic weapon and whether more than one gun was fired.” James Beldock, a senior vice president for ShotSpotter said; “The musical analogy is that if the rhythm is not completely even, then it’s likely to be multiple shooters.”
The ShotSpotter data has provided evidence in murder cases and helped police respond to crime faster. However, that does not mean the system is perfect.
“The system has been helpful to law enforcement, but no one claims that it captures every shot. The network covers only a third of the city, focusing on the police districts with the most violent crime. ShotSpotter logged 39 gunfire incidents in the middle of the Washington Channel during the Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks display.”
While it’s very interesting how this technology works, there are some things we should understand about the topic of “gun violence.” Though this technology gives a big picture on gunfire and has helped the city police, it does not address the actual cause of violence.
This article seems to assume that gunfire equals crime, and there are those who would have gun ownership outlawed, but we cannot assume guns are inherently a cause of crime. The truth is that guns never commit acts of evil – people do, and they were doing so long before the gun was invented. The Bible says the heart of man is desperately wicked. The first murder ever committed is recorded in Genesis. All evil acts are a result of sin (also recorded in Genesis) and we cannot blame guns for violence.
We must also remember that someone willing to break the law using a gun, will be willing to break any law, including one prohibiting them from having a gun. Anti-gun laws cannot be trusted; and if you look into it, most “mass shootings” occur in locations that already outlaw guns. So why even think about limiting “clip sizes” or waste time defining “assault rifles” if your goal is to stop violence? Of course, the real end of such things is only greater government control. Everyone knows that anything can be used as a weapon (something “used to injure, defeat or destroy”). Limiting American’s liberty, therefore, will not be an end to violence.
Regrettably, I don’t have time to properly cover the historical and worldview aspects of this topic. However, we know that, sometimes, a person’s view of “life after death” and origins will justify decisions to commit evil. In way of example: A Muslim may want to pursue a “sure path to heaven” through terrorism, but an atheist/evolutionist might decide to destroy the “unfit” and, believing there is nothing after death, has nothing to lose. You see; one’s belief regarding where they came from and where they are going defines who they are now, and will influence how they interact with others.
Articles like this one about the ShotSpotter demonstrate our ingenuity in science, our struggle with sin, and the truth of God’s word. It’s really much easier to use a “SinSpotter” to detect crime. Indeed we could say that’s what Christ used when He came, taking all of our sin on Himself and offered us the only remedy for sin. We read about that remedy in the Bible.
Another note is that the cry for more surveillance tends to place unfounded reliance on the government for our safety. Surveillance networks will never bring an end to violence. Such networks only allow people to respond to crime, or see that justice is done, not stop the crime. Oh, and by the way, notice how easy it would be to use a network like ShotSpotter to track and record other sounds. With cameras watching entire cities, why not have someone listening, too.
In conclusion; when you hear people on TV proclaiming the end of gun violence or more security for our country, let’s keep some perspective and not buy into false promises. We already know the truth in God’s word and His salvation is more reliable than any government. The Bible is not silent about these issues, but too few make mention of the Biblical points in topics of “gun violence.”