One of the most important reminders of the slaughter in Orlando and San Bernadino is that terrorists often prefer to attack “soft” targets because they usually lack strict security, and there are many more soft targets than hard targets. This is hardly a new phenomenon, with hotels (in Jakarta and Mombassa), restaurants/night clubs (Bali and Tel Aviv), museums (Tunis), places of worship (Istanbul), trains (Madrid) and buses (France, Israel and Turkey) all having been prime targets in the past. This being the case, greater effort should be made to implement at least minimal security for soft targets that have proven to be particularly appealing to terrorists. If this can be done in developing countries with meager financial resources, it is certainly achievable in the developed world.
In many parts of the world, the entrances to metro rail systems are checked, as are entrances to department stores, office buildings, and shopping centers. Security personnel check everyone’s bag or purse as individuals enter. Is this a guarantee that a gun or bomb will not be smuggled onto a train? Of course not, but apart from providing at least some peace of mind, it is a sufficient deterrent to prevent would-be terrorists from attacking with impunity. Had such a system been implemented in many of the above-mentioned examples, most, if not all, of the attacks may have been thwarted, or their severity at least significantly reduced.
This implies a greater effort on the part of businesses and government working in tandem to adequately address the problem, for neither have sufficient resources to do so on their own. Since businesses’ and governments’ approaches to addressing the issue of security are generally not in sync, all parties need to have incentives and guidelines in place so that they may act in a consistent and effective fashion. Increasing safeguards and enhancing general awareness is a precursor to meaningfully addressing the persistent nature of the threat, but this can have unintended consequences.