A really interesting read about how the government and the public might have reacted to the Boston Marathon bombers if they had, instead, been the Boston Marathon shooters. Would the city of Boston had been shut down completely as this manhunt went on for the last surviving brother? Would we have collectively allowed the brothers to be called terrorists? Lots of good questions to think about especially considering the fact that a shooting most likely would have been more deadly than the actual bombing.

My point is about perceptions and reality, and how the former can shape the latter. The Tsarnaevs did have at least one gun—evidently a pistol, rather than the mini-arsenal originally reported—which they apparently used to kill an M.I.T. police officer, but that wasn’t what kept an entire city locked indoors: it was the fact that there were “terrorists,” who had carried out a bombing, on the loose. As I pointed out the other day, numerically speaking, terrorism, especially homegrown terrorism, is a minor threat to public safety and public health. It pales in comparison to gun violence.


Photo: ERIC THAYER / NYT
ᔥ Kottke