3/21/2013

The Great Object and the Line in the Sand

"The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun." - Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, June 14, 1788
The history of man is a history of violence.  From a biblical perspective, the first human born on this planet, Cain, was also the first murderer, as he slew his brother Abel, the first human to die.  From an evolutionary perspective, Stanley Kubrick defined "The Dawn of Man" in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey when one tribe of pre-historic ape-men first discovered how to use a bone as a weapon to both kill prey for food and to fight rival tribes of ape-men over territory.

Kubrick and the Bible agree: Men were violent before the invention of firearms.

Man's reorganization from a tribal to a state system of governance did not put an end to violence.  Instead, as the exercise of violence was usurped from the anarchy of the tribe to the ruling class of the state, the disparity of power between the oppressor and the oppressed increased.  When the implements of war consist of hands, feet, and blunt objects, the man blessed by nature with the strongest muscles and the quickest reflexes will win the day.  But with the invention of more specialized weapons, the training required to master them could only be taken on by the enforcement class of the state, as they lived off the taxes and tribute of the peasants who were too busy trying to survive to have time to train in the arts of war.

Hence, we find the peasant rebellions were easily squashed by the professional soldiers and armies of the state.  This was true in medieval Europe as well as ancient Japan, where the Samurai were the only ones allowed to carry swords and the laws stated that any disrespect against a samurai from a peasant was justifiable cause to be killed on the spot.  In some regions this lead to "practice murder" where a samurai could kill a peasant for any reason whatsoever with total impunity.

Lucky for those that don't wish to live in a world with such a disparity of force and the concomitant tyranny it brings, the pendulum of power would begin to swing back into the hands of the common people with the invention of firearms.  On April 19th, 1775, in the towns of Lexington and Concord Massachusetts, the American militia had their first military engagements against the British regulars to start the American Revolutionary War.  The sun didn't set on the British Empire, they had the largest and best trained armies the world had ever seen, but they could not dominate common men that had access to the same level of firepower as they had.

Each advance in the science of firearms brings more power into the hands of the common people against those who would aggress upon them.  Modern firearms are a great blessing for everyone who cheers for the underdog over the bully.  Guns, the great equalizer, put a little old lady in the same arena as a 300 lb. linebacker.  Without firearms the weaker members of our societies are de-facto victims, but with a firearm an 86-year-old woman can defend herself after repeated break-ins, a 71-year-old man can save a café full of people from two armed criminals, a mother can protect her children during a home invasion, a 15-year-old boy can defend his younger sister from a pair of robbers, and a 12-year-old home-alone girl can fight back against a home intruder.

Unfortunately, the same tools that can confer such a blessing to the weak would-be victims in our society can also be used to give added advantage to the aggressors, criminals, and mad-men.  Recent mass-shootings of innocent people, including the wanton slaughtering of children, have brought forth calls to blame guns for the violence in the hearts of men and to return back to a time when the ownership of weapons are restricted to the enforcement class of the state.

For American patriot Patrick Henry, "the Great Object" is for every man to be armed.  His great object is mine as well, and I will promote it with constitutional, empirical, economic, logical, and natural rights-based arguments.  While all gun regulations are unconstitutional, I will also define the conditions for which every freedom-loving American should draw his line in the sand and decidedly resist any further encroachments on his individual right to keep and bear arms in order to avoid the greatest danger of all, democide.

A Constitutionally-Protected Right

The British said "lay down your arms, you damned rebels!", and the Americans gave it to them, one shot at a time.
"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good" -George Washington
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” - James Madison
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" - Thomas Jefferson
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" - The Bill of Rights
In a more intellectually honest society, the constitutional argument promoting an individual's right to own guns would not need to be made.  It would go without question that the Bill of Rights recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and furthermore pledges that our form of government will never infringe upon that right.  The 2nd amendment means what it says.  With that understanding, any debate on this issue would confine itself to whether or not the Constitution should be amended to repeal Article II of the Bill of Rights and in turn grant the government the power to create and enforce laws that would restrict an individual's right to own guns.

Unfortunately, the opponents of gun ownership do not confine themselves to intellectually honest arguments.  With a straight face pseudo-scholars will claim that the 2nd amendment gives the government the right to "regulate" firearms, that the 2nd amendment granted a right to own firearms not to individuals, but to the national guard, that the 2nd amendment only applies to hunting, and that the founders never envisioned the 2nd amendment applying to modern combat firearms.

Regarding the changing meaning of the term "regulate", I responded to this argument in a previous blog:
"Today, the word regulate supposedly gives the government the power to dictate how many rounds my rifle can have, how long the barrel must be, and whether or not it can be suppressed, semi-auto or full-auto, etc.  However, when the Constitution was written a well regulated Militia did not mean the government could tell the colonists what types of muskets they could use, as shown in The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms by Stephen P. Halbrook.  He convincingly shows that a well regulated Militia referred to every able bodied man aged 16-60 having a properly working firearm and being trained in its use and ready in a moment's notice to use it should the call be made."
Thus, the first two constitutional arguments proposed by those that wish to restrict gun ownership in America are both based on lawyer tricks and playing on the public's ignorance regarding what a term meant at the time the constitution was written and today.  In 1776 "regulate" meant "to keep regular", such that a "well regulated" militia meant the individuals compromising that militia were well trained and had properly working firearms.  Today the power to "regulate" is commonly viewed as the government's power to create and enforce laws that require permits, licensing, and obeying the dictates of petty bureaucrats.  Quite a difference!  It's even more outrageous to equate the militia with the National Guard, as the founders were smart guys, but not omniscient, since the National Guard wasn't formed for more than 100 years after the Constitution was written!  Instead, the militia referred to every able bodied male aged 16-60, thus, the people themselves.

As Suzanna Hupp said in her famous testimony to congress, "the 2nd amendment is not about duck hunting... it's about our right to be able to protect ourselves from all of you guys up there", referring to the government.  So when the Governor of New York cries out that you don't need 10 bullets to kill a deer, he is merely blowing wind against a straw man.  One can kill a deer without any guns at all, but that doesn't mean that the constitution only allows the people of the United States to own bows and arrows.  As Jefferson said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."  Put another way, the people have 3 "boxes" they can use to protect themselves from their government.  They can use the "soap box" by exercising their 1st amendment protected right to try and change the minds of others through speech and the press, they can use the "ballot box" to vote for representatives that obey their oath to protect the constitution, and finally, as a last resort, they can use the "cartridge box" to overthrow their government.  As Michael Badnarik said, "if the 1st amendment doesn't work, the 2nd amendment will".

Not only do we need AR-15s, but even more powerful weapons so we can compete against things like this as a last resort.

The final constitutional argument that the 2nd amendment doesn't protect the right to own "assault weapons" used in combat couldn't be more wrong.  Look at quotes from any of the founding fathers and it is clear that's exactly what the 2nd amendment is all about.  Jefferson said it was the strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms.  If the 2nd amendment is there to give the people a last resort to fight a tyrannical government, then clearly the types of arms that are protected are the very same arms that the government itself has at its disposal.  Just as the American people of 1776 owned the same level of fire-power as their British government, one could argue that the 2nd amendment protects today's American's right to own the same level of fire-power that our government has today, meaning Bradley tanks, F-16s, fully automatic weapons, and most certainly semi-automatic weapons with a pistol grip that hold more than 10 rounds, otherwise demonized as "assault weapons".

More Guns, Less Crime, and Vice Versa

Considering this quote, if Thomas Jefferson came back today he probably wouldn't think it is a coincidence that our cities with the highest crime rates, New York, Chicago, and Washington DC, also have the strictest gun control laws.  However, those that are pre-disposed towards victim disarmament laws often claim that other factors could be at work here, whether it be inner-city culture, poverty, or other socio-economic causes.  This is the problem with statistical analysis.  Sloppy research and bias can easily be used to create a study and a corresponding statistic that "proves" just about anything. Investigating socio-economic issues is not the same as chemistry or physics experiments in a lab; it's just about impossible to freeze human beings and isolate just one factor to prove or disprove a given hypothesis.  The closest one gets to such an experiment are the few scenarios in human history where a people that share a common culture are split in two via government, with examples that show the merits of capitalism over communism being East and West Germany following World War II and when Korea was split into North and South Korea.

Given these challenges, John Lott, Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA and author of More Guns, Less Crime, conducted the most comprehensive data analysis on the impact of right-to-carry laws and crime statistics in the United States.  With many states relaxing their gun control laws and legalizing concealed carry over the last few decades, he used these states as mini-laboratories to see what, if any, impact these laws had on the crime rate.

The first point that he comes to should make any intellectually honest gun-grabber think twice.  You cannot point to a single example that shows a statistical decrease in violent crime following a gun control law.  One can misleadingly compare the gun death rate in Britain to the United States, but those are two different "laboratories" with other factors at play.  In fact, one can read Guns and Violence: The English Experience by Joyce Lee Malcolm to learn how Great Britain's violent crime rate has increased since they've introduced stricter gun control laws.  At the end of the day, what does it matter if you're assaulted by a thug with a gun or a knife if you've been disarmed by your government and being a victim is your only legal choice?  The people of Australia are also finding out that a lower gun crime rate doesn't sound so nice when it's accompanied by an increase in violent crime.

Not only is there not a single example of a gun control law doing what it's purported to do: save lives by decreasing crime, Lott's studies found dozens of examples where the repeal of gun laws and the passing of right-to-carry laws resulted in a statistically significant drop in violent crime.

There are several explanations for these results that might seem counter-intuitive.  The first is to understand that not all criminals are lunatics, meaning they respond somewhat rationally to incentives and their circumstances.  As Jefferson quoted long ago, "an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one".  Thus, with the introduction of concealed carry laws, we see that the rate of violent crime goes down, while the rate of property crime goes up.  Criminals decide to forgo crimes that could result in them getting shot by a concealed carry holder, such as assault, rape, and armed robbery, and substitute that action with crimes that have a lesser probability of such an altercation with an armed citizen, such as a robbery when no one is home.

In addition to looking at the impact of states legalizing concealed carry, Lott has also provided some interesting analysis of the impact of gun free zones.   For instance, the person that committed the massacre in Aurora, Colorado had 7 other theatres that were showing Batman that were closer to his apartment, but he chose the only theatre where guns were banned.  Why would he do that?  As Mr. Lott says, disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as siting ducks.  Just as criminals adjust their behavior and choose to commit different crimes when more of their would-be victims start carrying guns concealed, even certifiable mad-men adjust their behavior to achieve their goals.

For someone whose mission is to kill as many innocent people as possible to gain notoriety and die in sick glory, they know that they are more likely to accomplish their goal in a place where all of the law abiding citizens are disarmed, such as a school.  Selective reporting by the media can also distort the public's perception regarding gun-free zones and mass shootings.  Everyone knows about the massacre at Sandy Hook, but how many know about the massacres that never took place because they were prevented by a someone carrying a concealed weapon?  Interestingly enough, the same week that the Sandy Hook massacre took place in a gun-free school an Oregon concealed carry holder stopped a massacre in a mall while an off-duty cop stopped a shooter in a Texas theatre.

Gun-Free Zones: The perfect opportunity for mass shooters to fulfill their sick fantasies.

Prohibition: A Case Study

Not only can we learn something about any proposed gun control laws that may descend upon the nation by reviewing what's happened with other countries and states that tried similar experiments, we can also look at a seemingly unrelated case study and make some predictions based on the laws of economics.

In 1920 the 18th amendment to the Constitution went into effect, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors, aka alcohol. The law-abiding suppliers of alcohol were put out of the market by the new amendment, but the demand for alcohol remained.  As could be expected, new entrepreneurs entered the market to fill this need, and the imbalance of supply and demand caused the price of alcohol to increase to clear the market.  With increased prices come increased profits, and those profits were used by these new entrepreneurs to further their business.  While the previous manufacturers of alcohol had to compete to produce the best product at the lowest cost, the new businessmen were only successful to the extent that they could circumvent the law, meaning they had to use violence instead of the courts to settle disputes and to acquire territory while doing their best to either stay under the radar of the police or to pay them off to look the other way.

Not only did alcohol prohibition fail to rid America of alcohol, alcoholism actually increased during this time.  New York City had far more speakeasies during prohibition then it has bars today!  Not only were Americans consuming more alcohol, they were consuming dangerous alcohol as they had to substitute store-bought booze of a known quality with bath-tub moonshine of dubious quality.  Thus we have the added effect of prohibition causing more alcohol-related deaths because people could never be sure of what they were drinking.

Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, doesn't work with drugs, but this time it will work with guns?

When the 21st amendment was passed to repeal the 18th, America had still not learned its lesson on the economic effects of prohibition.  Namely, that the effect of prohibition for any good will result in criminal elements taking over the business, where these criminals will receive high profits to evade the law and corrupt the police by buying them off, and the products they sell will be of lesser quality and potentially more harmful to the end user.

Does this remind anyone of the current drug war?  After decades of the war on drugs we have more drug use, where the drugs used are more dangerous and have a higher potency.  Instead of using medical grade cocaine of a known quality, users must get their fix from criminals who have cut the cocaine with baby-powder and god knows what else.  Just as alcohol users started drinking home-made moonshine during prohibition, the war on drugs is responsible for the horrible meth epidemic in the United States, as it's much easier to create that poison using cold medicine and other household products than securing a Columbia hook-up.

So what can we expect from any future gun prohibition?  Instead of having law-abiding companies manufacturing guns under the supervision of the ATF, the gun business will move underground and will be entirely run by the criminal element.  Already under-the-counter gun sellers have boasted that any new prohibitions will only benefit their trade.  With the advent of 3D-printing, the gun grabbers' cause is even more hopeless, as now anyone with a 3D-printer can create an AR-15 lower receiver that can withstand hundreds of rounds.  There are over 200 million guns in this country, and even if you could push a magic button to get rid of all of them, you cannot un-invent welding techniques or get rid of all the substances used to make guns, as they are beautifully simple machines.  So the gun business will move into the hands of criminals, their profits will soar, the police will become even more corrupted then they already are, and law abiding citizens will be defenseless.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Calling all Good Guys, Regardless of Costume

When victim disarmament proponents shed big crocodile tears for the innocents killed during mass shootings, they claim they want gun control so that a similar tragedy cannot happen again.  But as we just saw, gun prohibition will result in only two classes of people having guns: the government and the criminals.  This cannot be denied, as no one is talking about disarming the government, and by definition, criminals will break gun control laws just as they break all the other laws.

So what happens when you hear the glass break in the middle of the night and you realize that a criminal has broken into your house?  If you've allowed yourself to become disarmed then you only have one choice: call 9-1-1.  And what exactly are you hoping to achieve with that call?  You want a good-guy with a gun to get there as fast as possible and deal with the bad-guy.

The first thing to recognize is that if you have given up the responsibility of protecting your own life and are depending on the police to do it for you, the case of Warren v. District of Columbia should make you think twice about this decision.  Carolyn Warren and her roommate heard the screams of another defenseless woman who lived one floor below them as she was beaten and raped by Marvin Kent and James Morse.  Warren called the police twice to request immediate assistance, and both times the dispatcher assured them that help was on the way.  Thinking the police had arrived and the worst was over, their nightmare had only begun when the two men realized the presence of the two additional women and for the next 14 hours held them captive as they were robbed, beaten, raped, and forced to commit sexual acts on each other and their two captors.

When Warren sued under claims of negligence the District of Columbia court of appeals ruled that the police do not have a duty to provide police services to victims of criminal acts.  In other words, their job is not to protect you, but to draw a chalk-line around your dead body.  You've been warned.

Protecting your life is your responsibility, delegate it to others at your own risk.

The second thing to recognize in this thought experiment is that no one is truly anti-gun, because when the glass breaks and you dial 9-1-1 you are praying not just for a good-guy, but for a good-guy with a gun.  The only thing that can stop a bad-guy with a gun is a good-guy with a gun, and I'm of the radical opinion that you don't have to be employed by the government to qualify as a good-guy.  Just as there are most definitely good cops who will respond heroically to defend the innocent, there are also doctors, pilots, teachers, plumbers, and taxidermists that would qualify as good-guys.  So what is the basis for this prejudice against the good-guys who don't happen to be wearing a police-man costume?

I can't carry a cop around with me in my back pocket, but I can carry a concealed .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol.  Not only do I want as many good-guys to be armed as possible, but I actually prefer the electricians and musicians and writers to the police.  Why?  Because anyone that has gone through a concealed carry course understands that they are civilly and criminally responsible for every bullet they fire in self-defense. Often times these concealed carry holders will merely brandish the gun and won't even have to fire it in order to prevent a crime.  Compare this with the police who seem to have a license to kill.

In August, 2012 when a disgruntled former apparel designer murdered his former co-worker outside the Empire State building, initial reports thought it might be another mass-shooting as nine people were wounded with one dead.  Soon after it was realized that the police unleashed a hail of gunfire into a crowd of people to try and stop him, and that all of the wounded pedestrians were struck by the police officer's bullets.  If a concealed-carry holder not wearing a police costume had fired a gun so recklessly into a crowd of people he'd be sued for every dollar he had and would spend the rest of his life in jail.

An even more ridiculous example of police incompetence with firearms comes from the recent case of Christopher Dorner, the ex-cop who was suspected of hunting down his former brethren and their families.  When the call came out that their suspect, a large black man, was driving around in a grey Nissan Titan truck, two officers did the logical thing and unleashed a barrage of bullets at an aqua blue Toyota Tacoma containing two Hispanic women delivering newspapers.  The LAPD chief called it a "tragic misinterpretation" that their officers gave "no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender" before opening fire on the two women, one of which was 71.

So yes, if I need someone to back me up, give me an ordinary citizen who understands the dire consequences of firing a weapon any day over the Keystone Cops who see a home-grown terrorist underneath every bed and face absolutely zero liability for the people they wound or kill.

A Natural Right

Every living creature defends itself, it's a law of nature.  The cat has its claws, the dog has its teeth, the rattlesnake has its venom, the porcupine has its quills, and the three-toed salamander has a powerful bite.  Man not only has to protect himself from the beasts of the wild, but also the men who have chosen to become beasts themselves and prey on their fellow men.

So forget what the constitution says, who cares what the statistics show, throw out the arguments based on common sense, logic, or the laws of economics.   Let's get down to the morality of taking away a living thing's means of protection.  If you de-claw a cat and throw it in the wild it won't last very long, and the death is on your shoulders.  In the same way, gun control laws make law-abiding citizens defenseless and they make free men slaves.  And I literally mean slaves, never forget that the first gun control laws in the United States only applied to blacks and Hispanics.

Therefore, all free men should be free to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, and I do mean all free men, even those that are guilty of making a mistake in the past.  Before the Gun Control Act of 1968, someone that was arrested with a shotgun and served their time would be given back their property upon leaving prison.  But this law, much of which was copied word for word from the Nazi's 1934 Weapon Law, for the first time made it illegal for a felon to possess a firearm under any circumstances.

With much of the supposed pro-gun crowd ready to make the concession that "of course felons shouldn't have guns", we have given up the principle of the natural right to self-defense and have become our own worst enemy.  Do I want violent murderers and rapists to be armed? Of course not, but there are only two logical situations that arise when a felon is released from jail.  Either the person has fooled the parole board and decided to return to a life of crime, in which case a gun law restricting legal sales to felons won't make the slightest bit of difference.  On the other hand, if this person has decided to turn his life around, this law banning his right to the means to protect himself is a truly evil injustice of the highest order.  It is very similar to the fate of the protagonist in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, where a young social delinquent signs up for trauma based mind-control which makes him physically ill at the thought of defending himself in exchange for early parole.  He finds himself not a man, but a pathetic worm who lives at the mercy of those he used to prey on as well as his former partners in crime.

Today's felons are in the same situation as young Alex in A Clockwork Orange, they have been released back into the world not as free men, but as slaves who cannot defend themselves from violence.

True defenders of the right to bear arms shouldn't just be on the defense against further encroachments, we should be on the offensive working to overturn the evil gun control laws of 1934 and 1968.  Every free man should be able to exercise his natural right to defend himself, even if he's made a mistake in the past.  I believe this applies even for those who have made the most heinous of mistakes, let alone for the poor souls that are labeled as felons for committing non-violent crimes, such as those described in Henry Silvergate's Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.  If we don't stand up for the rights of felons, then we have accepted the principle that the government can take away a free man's right to bear arms and the next thing you know we'll have an army of psychiatrists who can unilaterally declare you "mentally ill" based on their own definitions and strip you of your 2nd amendment protected natural right to keep and bear arms with no due process whatsoever.

The Line in the Sand
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defence?  Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress?  If our defence be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" - Patrick Henry, 1788
"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!" -Adolf Hitler, 1935
If constitutional, empirical, economic, logical, and moral arguments have not convinced you to adopt Patrick Henry's "Great Object" that every man be armed, perhaps this sobering dose of reality will win you over.  While the media will spend countless news cycles covering tragedies that are as likely to happen as getting struck by lightning twice, they conveniently forget that bit of history described in books like R.J. Rummel's Death by Government.  In this scholarly work the author examines the history of democide, the intentional killing by governments through genocide, politicide, massacre and terror.  With 14 democides in the 20th century easily amounting to over 200 million unnatural deaths, this book helps put things in perspective when the occasional madmen kills a few dozen innocent people, especially when you consider that every single genocide was first preceded by gun control against the targeted population.  Ottoman Turkey, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the hell on earth that was Pol Pot's Cambodia all could not have taken place if the millions that were slaughtered had not relinquished their natural right to keep and bear arms.

Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot all agree: Gun Control Works!

So I beg of you, learn from history.  In the words of Michael Badnarik, decide now how bad things will have to get before you draw your line in the sand, and when that time comes, do not back down.  Does a criminal government have to turn all of your rights into privileges, take away all your property, license every activity you want to engage in, and completely disarm you before you stand up? Will you not resist until they're hauling you away on cattle cars to a concentration camp?  At that point it's too late!  Learn from the immortal words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago:
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?  Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?...  The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!  If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation....  We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward."
Conclusion

As much as I'd like to end with Solzhenitsyn's emotionally charged "Oh how we burned" quote, I would be doing a disservice to those who might be swayed by my arguments if I didn't supply some resources for those who want to take on the responsibility of protecting their lives from criminals and their natural rights from governments.

Before you go out and buy your first gun, I highly recommend you first seek out proper training.  Not because the government's forcing you, but because it's just the smart thing to do!  Would you operate a chain saw without reading the instruction manual?  Guns are dangerous tools that must be understood and respected.  If everyone would only religiously follow the 4 laws of gun safety, 99.9% of all tragic gun accidents would be averted.  Those rules are:
  1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  2. Never point your gun at something you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
In addition to taking basic gun safety training, I highly recommend participating in project appleseed to jump start your education on learning the art of the rifle.  It's put on by volunteers, very cheap if not free, they mix in stories of the American Revolutionary War, and they teach time-tested techniques that will have you hitting man sized targets as far as you can see by the end of the weekend.  Once you are carrying concealed, (or better yet, open carrying!) a great way to practice your skills and have a great time doing so is by joining concealed carry shooting competitions like IDPA.

I highly recommend Boston's Gun Bible by Kenneth W Royce for great advice about guns for novices and experienced shooters alike, including the gear, training, and mindset it takes to adopt the American tradition of becoming a rifleman.  Here's one pearl of wisdom he offers: Don't try and "child-proof" your guns, "gun-proof" your children!  Teach them respect for weapons and make them available under your supervision and you won't have them sneaking into your closet and taking them to show-and-tell or thinking they're a toy and killing themselves or someone else.

Finally, we should do everything in our power to use the "Soap Box" and the "Ballot Box" so that we never have to use the "Cartridge Box".  While the NRA has gotten better since Ted Nugent has joined their board of directors, I'm not a fan of theirs simply because they supported the Firearms Protection Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.  With friends like that who needs enemies?  I'm a proud member of the GOA, Gun Owners of America, the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.  JFPO, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms, is another great organization that aggressively defends firearm ownership in America.

So speak out to others, write your representatives, and don't just sheepishly beg them to let you have your natural right to keep and bear arms.  We should get off the defense and be on the offensive trying to get gun control laws repealed.  Don't be afraid to let them know, if they want our guns, they can come and take it!

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