After each mass shooting the politicians and activists on both sides begin to recite their talking points and promoting their agendas. And, as they fight it out to the same familiar stalemate, the public outcry remains a simple mantra: “Do Something!”

I could not agree more; we must Do Something! However, relying on a group, a politician, or the government to provide a perfect solution in an imperfect world reduces the average person’s obligation to a few phone calls to their representatives and a contribution to the group of their choice.

Every time a tragedy jumps into the public perception, people demand more from others. More action from politicians. More regulations from government. More money for security, more restrictions, more signs, ad nauseam…  Never in this list of demands do we expect more from ourselves!

The days of self-preservation and personal responsibility are fading into the distance. Example: over 35 children have died this year due to being accidentally left in hot cars. Unfortunately, the misguided response has been to demand congress pass a law requiring car manufacturers install some type of safety device to prevent it from happening. More demands on others, less personal responsibility. And the first time the device fails, the car maker will be sued, because “it’s their fault, not mine!

The truth is that over the last century we, as a society, have slowly relinquished responsibility for our own well-being. With the solution to every problem seemingly a smartphone away, we blithely go about our day without concern. To compound the issue, as we abdicate more personal responsibility, we become less attuned to the realities of planet Earth. We put our faith in security staff and police to prevent violence. We expect laws and “no weapons” signs to act as magic force-fields that keep murders at bay. We expect perfect safety where none is guaranteed or even possible!

So, what about the “Do Something!” mantra? The idea is righteous, the focus is misplaced. Violent events should serve to illustrate the holes in our preparedness. Ask yourself, “What if I had been there? What could I have done?”. If your only answer is to use your phone to call for help, then take this opportunity to Do Something!

Do Something – In public put away your phone and pay attention to what is going on around you. This allows you to see trouble and may provide you time to leave.

Do Something – Learn how to stop massive bleeding. All too common in mass shootings we are seeing victims die unnecessarily after the attack due to blood loss that should have been manageable.

Do Something – Stop hiding and fight back! Granted there are a lot of options and differing abilities, but if you never consider fighting for your life, you will probably be shot in the back while attempting to shield a loved one. Then they will be shot. ,

Do Something – Carry the necessary tools to accomplish these things. Tourniquets, wound dressings, pistols, blades – As the saying goes “It’s better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.”

Do Something other than expect someone else to keep you alive! No one cares more about you than you do –  the responsibility for your life and well being is on you!

None of this is meant to discourage anyone from seeking a social or political solution to this type of attack, but none of that will be any comfort when violence visits you and you’re not prepared to Do Something!

We CAN do something…


– Matt Ellison
Fortress Staff Instructor
DTI Affiliate Instructor

Matt Ellison instructing a recent Fortress Level I Rifle Course.