“Someone should do something.”
We hear it every time there’s a tragedy like the school shooting that occurred this past week in Florida, where at least 17 lives were taken at a high school by yet another kid with a gun. Everyone wants “someone” to do “something”. More often than not, that “something” is placing further restrictions on gun ownership, as if that addresses what could possibly drive someone to such wanton disregard for human life in the first place. Still, even though many people disagree on that specific course of action, nearly everyone agrees when it comes to the topic of ever increasing school shootings: “someone” should do “something.”
The problem with this, however, is that it absolves from responsibility the only people who actually have the power to do something about it: each and every one of us. You. Me. Every single person reading this, and the millions more who aren’t.
We are the only ones who can fix this.
It’s easy to say someone else should take responsibility for atrocities like a school shooting, and while libertarians know better, too many of our fellow Americans have been conditioned to look to government for an answer. Sadder still, they have also been conditioned to willfully and cheerfully give up their rights in exchange for the illusion of security.
In order to oppose this with any merit, we have to offer a viable alternative solution. Fortunately, the answer lies in the most libertarian of spheres: with the individual.
It seems whenever we examine school shootings, there is usually a common theme among the perpetrators. They tend to be loners and outcasts. In hindsight, there are almost always warning signs, and they are all too often ignored. That was clearly the case in Parkland, Florida, where it was apparently common knowledge that the accused “would be the one to shoot up the school.” It was so well known, in fact, that someone even warned the FBI about this kid all the way back in September.
If that doesn’t make it crystal clear that the government is not the answer to stopping events like this from occurring, I don’t know what is.
So how do we, as individuals, fix this? Simple. Instead of expecting someone else to do it, we do the opposite of the people who knew this was coming, yet did nothing. We do something. We take individual responsibility. We engage these kids. We teach our kids to do the same. Loneliness is a hell of a thing, especially when you’re an awkward teenager. It’s not hard to spot, and we’ve all known kids who have struggled. In our modern, digital world it’s even easier for kids to lose out on the basic human interaction all of us need. It is up to each of us who are parents to not only engage our own kids but to teach them how to engage with others and encourage them to do so.
Every single person saying they saw this coming probably had at least a dozen opportunities to engage in actions that could have prevented this, none of which involved taking away anyone’s rights as an American citizen. It is time for all of us to take responsibility for ourselves; not only in the arena of politics but in how we interact with our fellow man. Allowing our teachers and other school personnel to carry on school property is long overdue, but taking the responsibility for how we interact with others upon ourselves and teaching our kids to do the same will do more to prevent these kinds of school shootings from occurring than anything else has or could. It is exactly the free-market, individually empowering solution that a problem of this magnitude both needs and deserves, and the best part is we can enact it at any time ourselves, independent of government.
Don’t wait for a solution; be one. Engage, and teach your children to do the same.
You can read more from Matthew McGowan on Think Liberty here.