The tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School has caused protests and walkouts, while calls for gun control flooded local and national media.
I attended Cypress Bay High School, which is less than 12 minutes south of Stoneman Douglas. I knew students there, attended its debate tournaments, and knew teachers and administrators. I walked those halls, sat in those classrooms, and saw the faces of those students and families.
Given my past experiences and emotional connection, many assumed this tragedy convinced me of the need for stricter gun control. But alas, this painful event has led me to believe the opposite.
Professor of Economics Ivan Pongracic said people expect the government to work miracles, as if the abstract conception of the state can solve all our problems, in this case school shootings. Mass shootings cause people to have a “not my problem” mentality about social problems, as if it is the government’s job to intervene, as if it is capable of working miracles like this.
Since when is the government really capable of doing more than what we can do as citizens? Contrary to popular belief, government action is human action, which means that it’s liable to the same faults, misjudgments, and evils as individual action. We cannot expect moral superiority from a state composed of depraved people. We cannot just tell the government to “do something” about things that we cannot control; sometimes humanity’s capacity for evil will be too great for us to comprehend, especially considering those who govern us are humans too.
It is easy to believe that humanity is inherently good: that because we have structural governance there should always be an answer, a solution, a reason. In actuality, we live in a world that is flooded with uncertainty.
And unfortunately, we really don’t know how to solve this heartbreaking issue. We might think we do, but making something illegal will not fix the fact that evil people exist.
As the saying goes: where there’s a will, there’s a way. We see this notion in action almost every day with drugs, underage drinking, hit and runs, tax evasion, etc. No matter how much regulation the government imposes, an underground economy, teeming with what the government officials have deemed illegal, will always exist.
Defense of gun rights is not about keeping guns to shoot squirrels in the backyard. This is an issue about submitting power to the government where it doesn’t exist.
The 17 individuals who lost their lives that day were my neighbors. The fear that surged through my body when I received the news felt indescribable — knowing that these people lived in my home county and state. That said, gun control is just a Band-Aid to many long-term problems.
Authorities knew that the perpetrator of the shooting was high-risk, and that’s where the first problem lies: People are too afraid to report a possible tragedy when they see it because they are afraid of offending someone. This mentality practically forces us to think that someone’s feelings were more valuable than 17 innocent individuals.
Claiming that guns kill people and pushing action on a government that can barely function is far from a logical solution.
The real problem is people. Indeed, it is questionable that a 19-year-old high-risk individual could acquire a highly-destructive assault weapon that easily, but because this individual had the will to kill, he would relentlessly find a way to do it, regardless of the weapon.
I wish there was a feasible solution to the madness we are all living in after this event. I wish I could tell my younger brother, who is still a student at Cypress Bay, that he will always be safe no matter where he goes.
But as long as evil exists, we cannot expect the government to “do something” until we “do something” about the type of people this nation creates.
Sterling Wertanzl is a freshman studying the liberal arts.