As is common after a violent tragedy, a great deal of electrons are being annoyed by people who are calling for prohibitions. Some want to prohibit firearms, ammunition, and body armor while others want to prohibit members of an entire religion from crossing the imaginary line that separates the United States from the rest of the world. All of this finger pointing is being done under the guise of security but the truth is that any security system that depends on an attacker acting in a certain way is doomed to fail.
Prohibitions don’t eliminate or even curtail the threat they’re aimed at. In fact the opposite is true. The iron law of prohibition, a term coined in regards to prohibitions on drugs, states that the potency of drugs increases as law enforcement efforts against drugs increases. It applies to every form of prohibition though. Prohibitions against firearms just encourages the development of more easily manufactured and concealable firearms just as the prohibition against religious beliefs encourages those beliefs to be practices in secrecy.
When you rely on a prohibition for security you’re really relying on your potential attackers to act in a specific way. In the case of firearm prohibitions you’re relying on your potential attackers to abide by the prohibition and not use firearms. In the case of prohibiting members of a specific religion from entering a country you’re relying on potential attacks to truthfully reveal what religion they are a member of.
But attackers have a goal and like any other human being they will utilize means to achieve their ends. If their ends can be best achieved with a firearm they will acquire or manufacture one. If their ends require body armor they will acquire or manufacture body armor. If their ends require gaining entry into a country they will either lie to get through customs legitimately or bypass customs entirely. You attackers will not act in the manner you desire. If they did, they wouldn’t be attacking you.
What prohibitions offer is a false sense of security. People often assume that prohibited items no longer have to be addressed in their security models. This leaves large gaping holes for attackers to exploit. Worse yet, prohibitions usually make addressing the prohibited items more difficult due to the iron law of prohibition.
Prohibitions not only provide no actual security they also come at a high cost. One of those costs is the harassment of innocent people. Firearm prohibitions, for example, give law enforcers an excuse to harass anybody who owns or is interested in acquiring a firearm. Prohibitions against members of a religion give law enforcers an excuse to harass anybody who is or could potentially be a member of that religion.
Another cost is a decrease in overall security. Firearm prohibitions make it more difficult for non-government agents to defend themselves. A people who suffer under a firearm prohibition find themselves returned to the state of nature where the strong are able to prey on the weak with impunity. When religious prohibitions are in place an adversarial relationship is created between members of that religion and the entity putting the prohibition in place. An adversarial relationship means you lose access to community enforcement. Members of a prohibited religion are less likely to come forth with information on a potentially dangerous member of their community. That can be a massive loss of critical information that your security system can utilize.
If you want to improve security you need to banish the idea of prohibitions from your mind. They will actually work against you and make your security model less effective.