If You See Nothing, Say Something

As this election season continues Bernie Sanders seems hellbent on proving to the world that economics isn’t the only thing he’s entirely ignorant about. During the Democratic Party circlejerk he decided to demonstrate his ignorance on what an emergency entails:

That was Sanders’ response to ABC News debate moderator David Muir Saturday night, who asked him about the neighbors of the San Bernardino terrorists who suspected something was amiss about the would-be mass shooters but never reported them for fear of accusations of profiling.

“That’s kind of a no-brainer. If somebody is loading guns and ammunition into a house, I think it’s a good idea to call 911. Do it,” Sanders said.

Muir pressed, “But I’m asking about profiling, because a lot of people are afraid of that.”

Sanders wanted no more of that topic and decided to move on.

Setting aside my feelings about the government operated 911 system, the idea behind it isn’t bad. 911 is a universal number that can be called to report emergencies (and possibly get help, but that’s not guaranteed). The idea is to beat the simple three digit number into people’s heads hard enough that during a major emergency they will remember to call it. Is somebody is suffering a heart attack? Call 911. Is somebody robbing a store? Call 911. Are you a good citizen and want to snitch on your neighbor for having expired tags on their vehicle? Don’t call 911. It’s not an emergency because there is no immediate risk of harm so get your quisling on by dialing the local police department’s direct number (then strongly consider flagellating yourself for your sin).

Is a neighbor carrying firearms and ammunition into their house an emergency? Is there an immediate risk of harm? No. So it’s clearly not an emergency. It’s not even illegal so don’t both annoying your local police department either. Just accept that your neighbor isn’t a dumbass and therefore has a means to defend themselves.

The problem with a universal emergency number is that it’s susceptible to denial of service attacks. If everybody starts flooding the number with inane bullshit the real emergency calls can’t get through. In fact this is already a very real problem. What Sanders is advocating, that people report even more inane bullshit to 911, will only further exacerbate the problem. That will only make it even more difficult for people who are trying to report a real emergency to get ahold of a 911 operator.

Take me, for example. If my neighbors followed Bernie’s advice they’d have to call 911 almost every other weekend when I returned from the range. Instead of having the operator free to accept calls involving houses on fire, people having heart attacks, etc. they have to waste time explaining to the caller that 911 is for emergencies only.