The terrorist attack in Orlando was horrible. Omar Mateen and ISIS are monsters who have no sense of the value of life. We should not rely on government power to save us and abandon what makes America great.
What makes America great is our ability to look out for ourselves and foster close ties with our neighbors through voluntary cooperation and exchange.
Already, presidential candidates and political figures of all stripes resume the usual talking points: the left is calling for tighter gun laws and the right demands that we “take the gloves off” and do everything and anything to take ISIS down.
Neither of these tactics will work. Abandoning the rule of law by giving the government more power to restrict personal freedoms and expand surveillance will not make us safer.
Allowing the government to restrict the second amendment will not stop terrorists. Tighter gun laws will only hurt law abiding citizens. Terrorists already have no regard for the law. No matter what laws are in place, someone looking to do harm will find a way to do it.
The Second Amendment protects our right to self defense. While we can count on law enforcement to protect us, they cannot be everywhere and in a situation where every second counts, the police are minutes away. We must be able to look after ourselves.
Mass surveillance is already conducted in the U.S. We’re told it’s to keep us safe. Yet the people running the programs are just as human as everyone else. They make mistakes and cannot watch every little detail all the time.
What’s even worse is the potential for the abuse of power. There are so many ways that mass surveillance can be abused.
Our right to due process is trampled when mass surveillance allows illegally obtained evidence. Our freedom of speech and expression are strangled because we become afraid to say the wrong thing.
The rule of law was not meant to be thrown out in a time of crisis. It’s just the opposite; it was meant to guide us through difficult situations.
It provides simple rules for a complicated world. The rest is left up to us to figure out. This is where our strong ties with our neighbors and voluntary exchange come in handy. We cooperate with one another to make life a little easier for us all.
Instead of relying on those in power to protect us, we must be able to look out for ourselves. If we abandon the rule of law and the traditions that it is based in, we become no better than the monsters who despise us.
When writing in the early 1800’s, Alexis De Tocqueville applauded the way Americans came together to solve problems on their own without any nudging from the government. We still see this today.
In the wake of the tragedy, thousands have poured out to give blood to the point where Orlando blood banks are at capacity. Candlelight vigils and memorial services bring complete strangers together to comfort those in mourning.
Tragedy often brings out the worst in us, but it also brings out our best. We must rely on the ties we have with each other. The strength of our communities do not come from the strength of the government. It comes from the strength of the ties we have with one another.
When faced against evil, we can’t just check it with great power. We must look to the good we see in everyday life. It’s the small acts of kindness between people that help strengthen the bonds we have with one another.
For now, we should mourn the losses we’ve suffered, continue working with one another, and remain strong.
Thomas Savidge is an advocate at Young Voices and a masters student in public policy at George Mason University.