These are multi-million dollar security theater failures and it bothers me more that people are considering buying even more derivatives based on this garbage technology for anything.
Police officers or security guards could just literally point one at anyone they find suspicious and use it to justify an illegal search, because it will most likely read yes, even if the person's pockets are totally empty.
Edit: note that it seems I had a wrong understanding of the term false positive rate, ignore this comment.
Statistics doesn't work like that. The false positive rate is pretty meaningless in this context. It only determines how much useless manual work is performed after the machine flags you incorrectly.
You should look at the false negative rate in order to determine how much of a security plus they bring.
That being said, I think the whole airport theater is ridicolous. If terrorists wanted to kill people, they literally have thousands of alternative ways to achieve that.
54% FPR means half of all people who aren't trying to bring anything illegal onto the plane gets stopped.
Since basically nobody are actually trying to do this, that also means that more than half of all people going through gets stopped.
The ratio of true positives to positives must thus also be vanishingly small.
100 people, 50 false alarms, 1 actual problem alerted and 49 marked as safe correctly = 50/(50+49) = ~50%.
I agree it can be confusing, but I think people would also make the opposite mistake if it were defined differently.
See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_and_recall for a table of different terms.
False positive = (Machine says positive but grand truth is negative) / (Machine says is positive)
In English, a false positive is when the machine declares something as positive but it is actually negative.
This fits a sanity test because ~50% of people that pass through a detector do not get patted down. The truth is closer to 10%. Even then, a true positive probably includes someone with two pennies in their pocket.
In statistics and ML it’s (FP) / (FP + TN) aka (false positives) / (actual negatives samples). This is by far the most common definition.
Here ML using the common definition see fall-out: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_and_recall
> In English, a false positive is when the machine declares something as positive but it is actually negative.
Yes, and the rate is based on the frequency this happens in your negative set.
>This fits a sanity test because ~50% of people that pass through a detector do not get patted down.
The 50% figure may be wrong, but my definition of what a false positive rate is not.
No it doesn't.
> And please try to reply with a bit more substance than "No".
Eh. I was hoping you'd just delete the comment rather than have two parallel arguments.
But you can't just look at the false positive rate and how much more work and unpleasant/unnecessary searches they cause. You have to take into account the false negative rate to get a complete picture. Manufacturers and the people who want these machines will always err on the side of too many false positives than too many false negatives.
Again, I personally think that these machines have no place in public spaces, no matter their hit/miss-rate.
That's not what a false positive rate is. It alarms on half of everyone that goes through. It's utter garbage as a first-line test.
> A false positive error, or in short a false positive, commonly called a "false alarm", is a result that indicates a given condition exists, when it does not.
So a 50% false positive means also that in 50% of alarms the condition was actually true.
What you mean is a 50% alarm/trigger rate. Which, depending on how many people do have something on them that should trigger the alarm, would result in a far far higher false positive rate.
No I don't. It's just that the true positive rate is close enough to zero that both false positive and alarm rate are roughly the same number.
Nevertheless you're still not understanding "false positive" correctly. If you correctly pick 5 out of 100 true positives without any flaws, and also have a 54% false positive rate, you're grabbing 51 false positives, and >90% of your picks were incorrect.
And I'm pretty sure the true positive rate is well under 5% to start with, which just makes it worse.
"In Germany, the false positive rate was 54 percent, meaning that every other person who went through the scanner had to undergo at least a limited pat-down that found nothing."
So 50% false positive rate means 50% of people who should not be flagged are flagged.
Even when walking through security totally clean you feel helpless, it is probably the closest we come to feeling the pressure of a totalitarian govt. in the USA, it makes me appreciate the bill of rights and not take for granted what it gives us.
At the airport, she always has to opt-out and get a pat-down (or did, until she broke down and paid the brib...err, "fee" for pre-check.)
Will she be safe walking around areas that use these scanners? Will the users of the scanners be required to announce that they are in use? Will there be an opt-out process? How would that even work in a public space? If she opts-out, is she going to end up getting felt-up by some untrained minimum wage pervert with a power complex? Who is liable (legally and financially) if her device stops working because someone made her go through a scanner without her knowledge or consent?
This is bullshit for so many more reasons that surveillance (though that is also important.) This is literally a life or death concern for us.
* What properties cause the device to malfunction?
* What kinds of scanners/tools can lead to the malfunction?
* What would the malfunction look like?
* How much time would she have to get medical support?
* Is there an alternative medical device that decreases the risk?
* Is it possible to get a medical certificate that shows she has the device and its implications, allowing the officer to know before-hand?
It is worth noting that some devices that can cause the malfunction may already be available for private citizens to purchase, so creating a plan of action may be the best option regardless of whether reinforcement officers intend to use it.
After dang's comment on the latest Assange thread to make the first page on
HN, I am trying to decide whether the posted article is one that stimulates
intellectual curiosity, or indignation and repetition.
I think the answer is - probably the latter. We're not likely to learn much
new knowledge from it and it's more likely to generate forceful arguments than
Are postings like this welcome on HN or merely tolerated? I assumed, because
politically controversial posts frequently make it to the first page, that
they are acceptable and welcome. I am not so sure anymore.
I believe that an active mind is a politically engaged mind - but perhaps HN
is just not the right place for political conversation. I enjoy the civility
and dignity of the best threads on HN- and I have to admit that the majority
of them are not political. It's hard to have a level-headed, sober discussion
on political matters, when everyone who has political views tends to have
_strong_ political views (I sure do).
So I don't know. Maybe posting stuff like this on HN is not such a good idea
(With apologies to jerry2 who posted this article)
(Not to pick on Rust, I love the language, but just an example)
I agree this site should not turn into Reddit, or Digg. What keeps HN great is the highly technical discussion around these topics. On mainstream articles like this I often skip reading the article, and go right to the HN comments to learn real info about the topic.
We have a community of some extremely smart people, let's not filter the articles posted, but instead harbor the intellectual conversation around the articles, because I think that's the real value of this site.
Not everyone will see every thread on a topic. Some may only see a TSA thread on HN once a month or quarter, if they're a light user.
The repetition is indicative of the community's feeling a topic is important. And that's what people come here for. To see what this community thinks is important.
But not necessarily because there's true dissenters in the simplified binary "you're with us or against us" way. But because it's a topic with no objectively right choice. Liberty is genuinely important. Security is too. Society and Government is largely about the balance of those two.
This is perhaps why articles on, say, vaccine denialism or climate denialism and other strongly politicised subjects like that are not well received on HN. On the one hand there are very strong views around them, on the other hand it's very clear what those views are and where they come from after years of these "debates" raging online and there's really nothing to see there anymore.
Scientific controversy of course is another matter. That comes down to robust debate between experts from which everyone has a lot to learn. That sort of article is also commonly flagged on HN, which I think is unfortunate.
Anyway, I've contributed plenty of politically controversial articles myself in the past, and contributed to such discussions. Maybe I was wrong to do that. I don't know if there is a place on the internet where I would feel more comfortable than on HN to have such discussions- but maybe HN is still, just, not the right place for them. Edit: maybe, if we keep having more and more of those conversations on HN it will stop being the place where I feel comfortable having them.
So should the general HN group tendencies be considered in what's considered controversial vs. what is just informative? Should the community focus on discussions in areas of climate, wealth, race, sex, etc. be limited only to the implementation details of the generally accepted HN point of view?
I do get what you're talking about. While I agree in with the premise of the parent story, the article is clearly written to charge emotions moreso that present rational arguments: I hate that bullshit. Personally, I'd prefer to be a member of a ruthlessly "on-topic" professional technology community where progressives, conservatives, etc. are expected to save their politics for Facebook or Twitter and provide input on those topics for which they are best qualified. Maybe it's too much to ask, though, because I ain't found such a forum yet.
HN has a small amount of absolutely brilliant content/commentary that I've not found elsewhere, as well as a larger dose of just OK content/commentary... which keeps me coming back... which comes with a large portion of utter crap which just becomes a big shit-show, and shows that this community of STEM types which, frankly, likes to see itself as superior to the less enlightened, broader public, really isn't any better at formulating ideas than that public in areas outside their specific specialties. Oh, sure, the better education means the quality of writing and rhetorical flare is also better... but that doesn't mean that the actual ideas are less emotionally driven or more well considered: just that the rationalizations are more nuanced than they might otherwise be.
OK, stepping off the soap box. I will say, for my part, I use to get much more caught up in the political discussions here and was wrong to do so. I've stopped that bad behavior for the most part: I wasn't helping, I wasn't changing minds, I was simply eroding the professional demeanor of the community.
About this community in particular.
Now don't get me wrong, this is separate from the issue of privacy and ensuring that the government doesn't overstep its bounds. We shouldn't be lured in by people using that as a wedge to spread FUD. Just read the comments on the article by the same writer to understand why.
Lots of executives. Lots of advisors. High powered board. No demo. First prototype due this month.
The Lincoln Labs group didn't get very far. They could image a single mannequin at close range in a controlled environment. Whether this will work in a cluttered environment is an open question.
It might work for sports stadiums, which heavily restrict what you can bring in.
Even if they deploy an ineffective version in 12 months, in 240 months they might have effective hardware. This is the direction some people want things to go.
Does it? If anyone has data on this, I'd be very interested.
I've recently been giving some thought to pervasive electronic and video surveillance as an alternative (specifically not as a supplement) to the presence of armed police being deployed by default in public.
Provided they can still borrow money to fund operations.
> Lots of executives. Lots of advisors. High powered board. No demo. First prototype due this month.
> Uh oh.
It's like reading Bad Blood in real time.
Second, how does law enforcement of the normal kind work in a society vs how does terrorism prevention work? For the later, intelligence gathering/sourcing, infiltration etc. - isn't this the only realistic (scalable) way for it work? If terror prevention becomes part of law enforcement job, then we will end up with a police state that is unlivable (in effect, terror is now perpetrated by state!)
Now, is this scanner device to be installed in public places – is it for law enforcement or for terror prevention? If the day-to-day life habits require this level of monitoring for law enforcement, then that society is screwed up beyond repair.
Btw, in my country we have X-ray for bags and metal scanner for body in every hotel, mall, theater, public transport hub, offices etc. There's usually a security guard who will wave a wand on your body but doesn't really know how to use it. For vehicles they make you open the trunk and boot and visually inspect as well as look underneath with a mirror. But I have not seen any 'positive' (false or otherwise) catch.
In movie theaters, the best I have seen them catch and confiscate is outside food (for commercial policy reasons, not security) and cigarette lighters (for fire safety and smoking ban).
It was irritating at first, but now everyone has become numb to it and you just go through the motions.
These two things are unrelated unless you are transmitting kilowatts of power and things become heated. Yes, there is a regulatory body (FCC) that limits emissions such that the volts per meter gradient is below some given threshold for a frequency range. And the higher the frequency the higher the power is needed to achieve the same v/m.
The 'war on terror' has very little to do with terrorism itself or preventing it. It's all about means to monitor and control the citizens of a nation.
As for large scale public 'scanners' well, they have been deployed in the USA around events like the superbowl. I recall they used to call them 'viper' squads or something. And in those I recall they were using backscatter x-ray vans, something which is not intrinsically safe due to using ionizing radiation (unlike radio).
Skimming the paper, it looks like they paired shooting victims with demographically similar control subjects. While the overall conclusion seems plausible (gun possession causes an increase rather than decrease in risk of being shot) this approach seems really hard to do correctly. Are you familiar enough with their methodology (and with the causative pitfalls involved) to discuss it?
>"A fisherman was attacked by a shark after he hauled it into his boat to pose for a commemorative picture.
>Angler Stephen Perkins, 52, got more than he bargained for when he hauled the fish on board his boat 'Serenity' off Lundy Island, Devon.
>As he was preparing to unhook the fish, it sank its teeth into his wrist leaving him needing re-constructive surgery. It has earned him an unlikely place in history as the first documented case of a man being bitten by a Blue Shark off British waters."
And if we include dead sharks -
>"There have, however, been several people injured by sharks on land including a landlady in Kent who was hit by a set of shark jaws which fell off the wall of her pub and a man whose arm was trapped inside the jaws of a dead shark he was transporting on ice after he stopped his van suddenly sending the carcass flying through the air, snapping its jaws shut on his arm."
This is honestly one of the most hilarious counter-examples I've ever read.
Nahh, if I was doing that I'd probably have pointed out that per capita, people are twice as likely to be shot to death by a toddler in the US as by a cop in the UK.
I was merely taking the golden opportunity to be very silly about sharks.
Have you just had those waiting around for the perfect moment or did you just go out and find them?
Say hello to Darwin for me.
Taking your shark tank metaphor, some people believe it‘s simply not possible to remove guns from a society, which is untrue as well, as the recent example of Australia shows.
Heck, lots of people in Germany used to have a gun in WW2, while in 2011, German police shot a whole of 85 bullets in total. Which, incidentally, is exactly one bullet less than Texan police emptied into a single, unarmed suspect after a car chase in the same year. Well, you get what you vote for.
I am neutral / undecided on the gun ownership issue but simplifying and using misleading information doesn’t help anyone.
Switzerland also has a lot more social security than the US. I agree that it's more complex than "guns are bad", but using Switzerland as an argument for gun ownership is just glossing over the details to come up with an artificial example where gun ownership doesn't result in increased violence.
Though I do not concede the use of the word "artificial" as correct in your sentence, bringing in the Swiss data point is incredibly relevant in response to a claim that "Actually, no, study after study shows that the amount of guns in a society is strongly correlated to its homicide rate, both directly as well as indirectly."
I don't know how much statistics can help with decisions (like "Should I own a gun?") when so much of the "on the ground" events depend on the character of the person carrying.
 Not to brag, but uh, he can shoot the pips out of a playing card while riding by on horseback. He enters contests and such. ;-)
Things I noticed in the paper:
However, compared with control participants, shooting case participants were significantly more often Hispanic, more frequently working in high-risk occupations1,2, less educated, and had a greater frequency of prior arrest. At the time of shooting, case participants were also significantly more often involved with alcohol and drugs, outdoors, and closer to areas where more Blacks, Hispanics, and unemployed individuals resided. Case participants were also more likely to be located in areas with less income and more illicit drug trafficking (Table 1).
Okay, so it's more likely for people to be shot in poorer neighborhoods, and especially when they're in the vicinity of things that generally involve gangs and other organized crime groups. Carrying a gun, especially an unconcealed one, may be an indicator, intentional or not, of alignment with a party here. Not unsurprising, unfortunately.
In the cases of unprovoked, one-sided violence, or the threat of it, (such as kidnapping, armed robbery [including "pickpocketing"], I think I would probably want to have some ready form of self-defense, be that being physically fit and knowing MMA, carrying around one of those Hello Kitty shank things, carrying a concealed knife, or running some flavor of concealed-carry (please, oh please, do not stick your gun in your purse / backpack).
On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses are possible and do occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should rethink their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures. Suggestions to the contrary, especially for urban residents who may see gun possession as a surefire defense against a dangerous environment, should be discussed and thoughtfully reconsidered.
Okay, so people who think that having a shooty-bang is a sure-fire way to not get shot have another think coming. And? The 4.46 times as likely to get shot statistic feels a little bit off, and I personally think that it needs more unpacking. What percentage of those individuals affiliate with syndicated crime? How many people in the list were involved somewhere in the process of procuring or consuming drugs? These feel like huge stats that are just missing.
Personally, what I would like to research is how many times that guns have reduced the number of casualties in bad situations.
There are some definite no-nos, like assault-weapons. And if you want to regulate, instead of prohibit, you have to invest into a good gun culture, which we really don't know anything about. That would be a big social engineering challenge.
There are some advantages, like lone-shooter type events becoming much less insidious, which don't cost as many lives as say sedentary life-styles, but being powerless in those (improbable) situations makes us very insecure. That insecurity is very erosive and tiring; but on the other hand, if gun-carry was implemented, and we didn't have a good enough culture, you'd get "casual" shootings, where what would have been a fist fight turned into a gun fight.
There's also the argument about whether or not to treat adults as inherently competent. Prohibition, i.e. complete deregulation, all in all seems to me like a quick hack; of course, the other side of the coin is that good regulation is really hard. I'm somewhat torn, but leaning towards regulation. To me it seems like one of those decisions that isn't easy, because it's not win-win-win across the board, but it's worse if you don't do it.
Of course this is mostly fantasy. I don't think we'll see gun-carry in the West any time soon. We're used to complete delegation of personal-security and the shift, at this point, would be counter-cultural.
What part of the West are you talking about? It's super common in vast swathes of the US.
Militarization of police in USA is good example. They will always outgun you.
Anyone who thinks that firearms purchased through their local gun store will do anything to stop a truly tyrannical government is living in a fantasy.
Police and soldiers (should) have different goals and tools.
We haven't (thank god) had a situation in the USA where actually shooting at law enforcement is a good idea. That is, where you're literally at war with the government and trying to replace it with another one, which will in turn recognise your actions as not against the law. On the other hand, things like home invasions happen daily.
This looks like totally marketing bullshit. Exactly how are they training their data sets? How does deep learning distinguish a pocket knife from keys?
I call total bullshit. I bet independent tests will show massive false positives (either that or a total failure to detect any real weapons). You're better off with a metal detector.
The short stories that inspired both Total Recall and Minority Report can be found in this anthology: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780806537948
Who is responsible for the silent editorializing here? And why?
Can’t do the same in California though
But from the article it's currently going to be used in "mass gatherings like concerts, malls, stadiums, public transit stops and government buildings" which may have individual rules against carrying and so you can treat this as better enforcement (though existing government buildings' metal detectors and x-ray machines for bags seem to be doing just fine).
The more interesting application is combining it with facial recognition. You don't need to approach everyone this system detects, but you can then keep a closer eye on them throughout the duration of the event/their presence in a location.
It's just another step in the ongoing and ultimately futile efforts to eliminate lone wolf attackers while continuing to turn a blind eye towards organized crime. It's not just the scanners people aren't going to be able to stop.
I don't know what period of history you're referring to. There has been constant wars or regional conflicts for the majority of recorded human history. If you're specifically talking about home-front terrorism, there is a fairly long history of this occurring too (just the case of terrorism in Ireland takes you back to the late 1960s). Civil wars were incredibly common in Europe in the medieval era, let alone the Crusades.
This isn't to excuse what's happening today (far from it) but to put in context that there isn't a perfect time in history we should regress back to -- rather, we need to move the world into a state it hasn't seen before.
To be fair, it is definitely the case that modern US imperialism (read: waging illegal and offensive wars overseas) is the cause of many modern problems such as the refugee crisis and acts of terrorism. After all, the US is arguably responsible for Islamic extremism thanks to the CIA-backed coup in Iran and countless other countries that fueled anti-Western sentiments culminating in terrorism.
I think stopping rampant (and illegal) imperialism would be far more effective than "building a culture".
That's good sentiment and we should definitely work towards it; but do we have examples of our civilization actually doing something like that? Culture continually changes, but to what degree can we influence that change? If we were to take up something like this in an organized way, what kind of precedents or past examples would we look at?
This is likely about as safe as wifi. The paper someone linked describes a system using around 24-30 GHz microwaves, one of the company blogs says the power they transmit at those frequencies is even less than a typical router. This isn't unusual. You can see a list of over 800 FCC approved devices in that frequency range here: https://fccid.io/frequency-explorer.php?lower=24000&upper=30... (I also didn't see anything there for Liberty Defense, the company suspects they'll have a product ready by 2020 but we'll see. Radar and imaging applications are tricky, this company could implode beforehand.)
Doctors often advise pregnant women not to fly at certain stages of their pregnancy.
I can't imagine a doctor would advise pregnant women to enter these security theaters for literally no reason.
More likely related to turbulences and avoiding entering labor while on a flight and difficulty using the seat belt.
Let me first say that how well these things work is not a property of the scanners alone, but also of the algorithms they run. I'm quite certain that they can be made to work much better than a random choice, unlike what some other posters claim.
The competition did have some issues. For example, the subjects were re-used in multiple scans (although not between training and test2 datasets), and the algorithms were allowed to exploit that (perhaps an oversight in the setup), but most entrants did not actually exploit this fact.
Also the dataset was quite small (~20 subjects). We were still doing much better than random. With a larger dataset and perhaps better scanner design, this would work even better.
Ironically enough, millimeter wave scanning is less well-understood than backscatter x-ray!
Reminds me of the BPA free garbage. Many of the replacements are/were worse than BPA. But no one seemed to care.
BPA has mostly been replaced with BPS ... which is also an estrogen mimic.
...but isn't this addressing a symptom, as it were, and not the problem?
I know I'll probably get down-voted to hell, because this is primarily an American board, but if the issue is systemic to society, shouldn't society redress the cause[s]?
Inb4 the "homogenous" argument: Yes, American society is homogenous but so are other societies. Wouldn't something like, say, affordable (or free), easily accessible and not ostracised mental health tools be equally or even more effective?
I get that people are scared of mass shootings and that drives the reactionary responses we are seeing, such as this, but wouldn't be better to find ways to reprieve the causes?
After all, it wasn't that long ago that "going postal" was a common parlance in American English for such events but those particular events (postal workers "going postal") have diminished - considerably.
Edit: So, clearly, if the rates for postal workers "going postal" have considerably declined, then something can be done to prevent these events - but this would have to be on a societal scale; which is a daunting task, I'm fully aware.
Please don't include this sort of off-topic provocation in your comments. It's against the site guidelines to downvote-bait, and nationalistic assumptions in internet comments never help. As it happens, the HN audience is about 50% in the US.
This is... definitely not true compared to the vast majority of the world.
Whole point was neither should be impeded... Living in a society has risks. Overall it looks worse recently, but deaths from mass shooting are still well below just Chicago's murder rate:
Personally, I'm not at all afraid of gun violence (perhaps because I've used a gun). Bombs, poisons, etc. and the like are way scarier, as they can kill way more people. Honestly if the occasional mass shooting happens every few weeks, it's a pretty low price to pay (as callous as that sounds).
With scanners and what not there's such a high potential risk of abuse that it's not worth it. If someone randomly elected can decide to imprison million of people they don't like. We probably don't want them to have said technology already in place (and probably want guns).
Gun rights is the freedom that could be taken away (other countries have done it with great success) instead of installing body scanners, so that's why I brought it up here.
I also don't get where the Wikipedia snark is coming from. I know that Wikipedia pages are not perfect but It's still a pretty good reference for a lot of things. I often trust Wikipedia articles for any given subject as long as it is well-sourced and not political just like this one.
Do I stop them from riding with friends? No, because it's in their best interest. Freedom and growth comes with a necessary risk.
Instead of worrying about the weapon of choice, I'm more concerned about why people want to murder. Let's try to fix that.
I would get rid of the second amendment. There may have been good reasons to introduce it back in the day, but at some point it's time to move on. As I said civilized countries don't need this.
Not sure what you mean. Please elaborate your thoughts...
> and be unconstitutional
Guess what else is unconstitutional?
Surely you must realize that the practical way forward with gun control is to slowly increase restriction over time?
Jumping directly into an outright ban / constitutional amendment situation is a waste of effort.
Having said that, shouldn't these increasing gun restrictions seek to reduce gun deaths by their maximum ability? For instance, I would imagine you support restricting drunk people from driving as a sensible way to reduce car-related deaths? Therefore why would you be against targeting specific groups who produce a majority of the gun-related deaths?
One genocidal government killing 0.5% of the US population every 250 years is 8000 deaths per year if my math is correct. With how everyone seems to be complaining of the US's recent descent towards fascism, I find it rather disingenuous to argue that a genocidal government is less likely than that.
No, it's not.
Evidence: the parts of the world with no parallel to the Second Amendment, where mass shootings are far rarer than in the US; in the US, they are nearly a daily occurrence, depending on the precise threshold you set.
The safety, such as it was, provided by the Second Amendment was the disincentive the availability of a militia drawn from the armed populace placed on the reliance on large professional armed police and military forces, which reliance was the threat it was designed as a bulwark against. This completely fell apart a little bit into the 20th Century.
Conservative estimates of defense gun uses are on the order of hundreds of thousands per year, while unlawful homicides in the mere thousands, and most of these are gang-related. That's solid evidence the Second Amendment is working as intended - to guarantee the natural right to self-preservation for each individual. It has nothing to do with any organized militia now.
Yes, which is the opposite of your claim that an armed population prevents mass shootings.
An armed population enables mass shootings, which is why, in total, per capita, and heck, probably even per gun, the US has the most mass shootings outside of actual organized armed conflicts anywhere in the world.
Perhaps, but “better control of guns = less shootings” I'd an emninently well-demonstrated pragmatic consideration.
> an existing super-empowering technology can be used by individuals to decentralize and evenly distribute political power
The US has very nearly the least evenly distribution of political power as well as the easiest access to firearms in the developed West, so whatever the US actually has, ideological fantasies aside, isn't a pragmatic solution to that question, either.
> We are safer and more reliable when the State does not have a monopoly on force.
The State is by definition whatever entity or combination thereof possesses a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
I've redacted this post as I don't want to publicise a gaping hole which renders these measures pointless. You wonder if the security serves a real purpose, or is there just to make people feel safe.