But Nicholas Kristof asks if we have it in the proper perspective (my emphasis):
All told, since 9/11, the United States has spent $8 trillion on the military and homeland security, according to the National Priorities Project, a research group that works for budget transparency. That’s nearly $70,000 per American household.
Some of that money probably helped avert other terrorist attacks (although some of it spent in Iraq and Afghanistan may have increased risks). We need a robust military and intelligence network, for these threats are real. An Al Qaeda attack is an assault on the political system in a way that an ordinary murder is not. And overseas terrorists do aspire to commit mass murder again, perhaps with chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, and our government is right to work hard to prevent such a cataclysm.
But there are trade-offs, including other ways to protect the public, and our entire focus seems to be on national security rather than on more practical ways of assuring our safety.
The imbalance in our priorities is particularly striking because since 2005, terrorism has taken an average of 23 American lives annually, mostly overseas — and the number has been falling.
More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism. Twice as many Americans die of bee or wasp stings annually. And 15 times as many die by falling off ladders.
Most striking, more than 30,000 people die annually from firearms injuries, including suicides, murders and accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American children are 13 times as likely to be killed by guns as in other industrialized countries.
Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re willing to spend trillions of dollars, and intercept metadata from just about every phone call in the country, to deal with a threat that, for now, kills but a few Americans annually — while we’re too paralyzed to introduce a rudimentary step like universal background checks to reduce gun violence that kills tens of thousands?