January 18, 2012
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS in New York his department is looking to deploy Terahertz Imaging Detection scanners on the street in the war on “illegal guns.”
Kelly said the scanners would be used in “reasonably suspicious circumstances” and intended to cut down on the number of stop-and-frisks on the street. So called stop-and-frisks are considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
New York City is largely a Second Amendment free zone. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has said that citizens “acting outside of any governmental military effort” should not be allowed to protect themselves with firearms.
“The NYPD and Department of Defense are working together testing Terahertz Imaging Detection, a new way to get concealed illegal weapons off the streets,” CBS reports. Terahertz Imaging Detection measures energy radiating from the body up to 16 feet away and can detect anything blocking it.
The ACLU and civil libertarians oppose the effort to use the technology on the street. “It’s worrisome. It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police Department when you’re doing nothing wrong,” the NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman said.
In addition to violating the Fourth Amendment, the proposed technology would subject citizens to a documented health risk – the destruction of DNA.
Studies reveal that THz waves “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication,” according to MIT’s Technology Review.
For more information, see this paper posted at the Cornell University Library.
If we are to believe CBS, most residents either are not concerned about the privacy aspects of the technology or think it is a reasonable trade-off to stop gun crime and terrorism.
CBS does not mention the ability of THz to destroy DNA. If they did, no doubt most people interviewed would oppose the new technology.