As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, officials in the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are warning us that there’s a heightened threat of Islamist terrorist attacks. CNN is reporting that law enforcement officials believe that the Islamist threat is “the highest in years.” CIA deputy director turned CBS security analyst Michael Morrell declared, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That’s how serious this is.”

So just how “serious” is the risk? Well, the risks to American lives aren’t very big. Things don’t look good, though, for the constitutional freedoms we celebrate on the Fourth.

The current spate of terrorism warnings certainly sounds scary in light of the recent terror attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, and France. Islamic radicals linked with ISIS and Al Qaeda no doubt hope to carry out or inspire attacks in the United States. I was as horrified any other American by the September 11, 2001, atrocities. But we all need to keep in mind that terror only works if you let it.

The plain fact is that terrorism does not remotely threaten the existence of the United States. Even more importantly, it does not materially threaten you or your family. According to the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, only 68 Americans have died in terror attacks since 9/11, and that includes the 13 who died in the Fort Hood rampage by military psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan.

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