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Is NH prepared? It could happen here

April 21. 2013 1:16AM

New Hampshire is so peaceful a place, with so little crime and so few worries, that it is easy to assume we are far removed from the stunning violence perpetrated by terrorists and mass killers. We are not, though. We are very close, and it is not at all inconceivable that some horrible attack could happen here.

Our proximity to Boston is one of the reasons for our vulnerability. New Hampshire is well experienced in the unwanted importation of violence from Boston and other Massachusetts cities. From petty criminals to mobsters and drug dealers, we have felt the sting. Terrorism could be the next export.

Boston has found itself a waypoint, at the very least, for terrorists. The 9/11 hijackers spent four days in greater Boston before that fateful morning. Two of them drove to Portland, Maine, for a connecting flight, apparently to avoid the suspicion that would come from all of them boarding together at Logan.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects grew up in Boston, according to law enforcement officials. The marathon made a spectacular target, but had they wanted to sow fear in suburban or rurual America, it easily could have been a New Hampshire event.

If terrorism seems a stretch, there is a more likely threat: The deranged killer. New Hampshire has experience with this. There was Carl Drega in 1997, the Dartmouth College murders in 2001, the Kimberly Cates murder in 2010, to name a few. None of these was a Newtown, but the Newtown killer's family moved to Connecticut from New Hampshire. It could have happened here.

All of this raises some important questions for Granite Staters. How well-prepared are your local police and fire departments? How well-prepared is the state? For that matter, how well-prepared are you? As the Marathon bombings showed, bystanders often are the very first responders. They give first aid while the police, firefighters and medics are en route. They also witness suspicious activities, like men setting down backpacks and walking away, that might have very different outcomes depending on how aware bystanders are of what goes on around them.

Granite Staters have been touched by terrorism and mass killings. We just haven't experienced anything of the scale of Newtown or the Boston Marathon bombing within our borders. We could knock on wood and hope we never do. Or we could see that we are prepared. The latter seems to us a much better option.

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