op-ed

The New Tech That Could Protect Our Kids

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Hannah Cox Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee

In the past month, teachers have been armed with miniature baseball bats to defend their students in the classroom, mandatory clear backpacks have been ushered in for students, and many have lobbied for gun control—all in the name of safety and the fear of gun violence.

But what if there was a software being withheld from the public that could more effectively protect people than all these things?

Whether it is schools, churches, daycares, or domestic abuse shelters, most institutions in our country are working hard to ensure safety on their premises, the one startling exception being the Tennessee state government.

Adam Jackson is a military veteran who spent his time providing electronic security for U.S. embassies and installing security systems on our overseas bases. Upon his return to civilian life, Adam and his partners developed a groundbreaking facial recognition software that can instantly match the face of someone appearing on security cameras with known individuals in a database, such as the sex offender registry or those with restraining orders against them.

The software has the ability to strengthen the defenses at vulnerable locations by instantly alerting security personnel to the threat and enabling them to quickly lock-down a campus. However, it is currently illegal for Adam to even donate this product in Tennessee, much less sell it.

That’s because the Tennessee Alarm Systems Contractors Board has blocked the company from installing the software without first obtaining a license to install alarm systems, a process that takes about five years. This is made even more ludicrous by the fact that his product is mere software, not an alarm system, so the training that Adam would be forced to receive to obtain this license would be completely irrelevant to his product. Yet the alarm board has waived its magic wand and decreed that Adam’s product is within its purview, thus requiring him to obtain a costly and time-consuming license.

When you compound these issues with Adam’s professional training in the military, it becomes increasingly clear that this requirement is nothing more than a money-grab, and it’s one that endangers public safety.

The burdens of occupational licensing have been front and center in recent months, with more and more states reconsidering the barriers they place on people who simply want to work. However, much of this exploration has focused on the individual harm caused by these laws. This case is a perfect illustration of how licensing laws also hurt society as a whole.

Had a high school such as Stoneman Douglas had access to this software, their existing security cameras could have been able to quickly recognize a banned student like Nikolas Cruz. The software could have instantly alerted security, which could have shut down the campus and homed in on the perpetrator immediately.

Schools aren’t the only institutions having to take extra precautions against violence these days; many churches have also been victimized by mass shootings. A local Synagogue just outside of Nashville is one of the many organizations eager to acquire access to Adam’s software. They’ve filed an affidavit to a lawsuit brought by the organization I work for, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, against the state regarding the constitutionality of this regulation.

A board member for the Synagogue, Daniel Horwitz, stated, “Given recent events in Charlottesville, school shootings, a perceived uptick in violence, and anti-Semitic hate crimes, we are interested in enhancing our existing security measures in an effort to protect both our members and children on our premises. We urgently await the outcome of the proceeding in the hopes that we will be able to utilize this promising security technology.”

Blocking people from potentially life-saving technologies is outrageous, and outrage is exactly how we should feel towards the injustice of this predicament in Tennessee.

While many attempts have been made to curtail our Second and Fourth Amendment rights in a misdirected attempt to foster security, a technology that actually could far more effectively protect us is being held hostage by unelected bureaucrats in Tennessee, proving yet again that government is the problem and more of it never the solution.

Hannah Cox is the Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free market think tank that works to remove government barriers at the state-level. 


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.