In light of the political news circulating lately regarding the second amendment, I’ve been mulling this question over in my head. I don’t really want to dig into my thoughts about SCOTUS denying cert to what I think is a relevant case, nor the purported changes to ITAR rules that may squash online discussion about firearms (among many other subjects). But I do want to take a moment to write about what it means to be an everyday guy who owns and practices with firearms in this country.
To me, an everyday marksman in this country is an individual who has the motivation and discipline to own and practice with weapons for the betterment of themselves and their community. This individual does not need to be of world-class skill level, but should be competent enough to meet his or her own needs. This person does not necessarily have, or really need, copious amounts of specialized equipment. They seek to improve their knowledge and equipment when possible, maybe even join other enthusiasts and compete on occasion.
This type of philosophy can, and should, extend to a wide variety of activities. I can just as easily talk about everyday farmers looking to feed their families and communities out of their small personal gardens; or perhaps everyday teachers who do not hold any formal instructor certifications, but nonetheless look impart the skills and wisdom they have acquired over the years onto others. We could even talk about everyday first responders who have learned a variety of first aid methods or survival tricks, and look to keep those around them safe in times of strife. Backyard engineers and woodworkers have the fundamental skills of construction and tool-making. In all honesty, I believe that we should all strive to be several (if not all) of these things and more. This makes us well-rounded individuals who are ready and capable of taking care of our family, friends, and community in times of need.
I believe few would disagree with the potential benefits of farming, teaching, engineering, and medical care to society. I would argue that there is, and should always be, a place for the marksman and the security he or she provides. It is the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy, after all– coming right after physiological needs such as shelter, food, water, and health. It saddens me to see the benefits of security provided by a community of everyday marksmen downplayed as much as they are. It was these everyday marksmen, farmers, engineers, and teachers that founded this nation.
At that time, this gaggle of community members who looked out for the well-being of their neighbors was simply known as the Militia. The fact that this connotation has been lost to history does not change the fact that the underlying principles still exist. We see it all the time: neighbors who rush out to fill and place sandbags during floods; EMTs who volunteer their personal time to go to another state and help with disaster relief after a hurricane; high school kids who volunteer to donate and help with blood banks after a terrorist attack; and neighbors who start food drives to feed the hungry. These people represents the modern militia. Not backwoods hillbillies running around in the woods or the doomsday preppers who look to “bug in” with their families for months or years. These people have skills for sure, and some of them valuable. But they are not necessarily as community minded as a true Militia member is.
If the Militia is not these stereotypes, then who is it? Well, it’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us whose first thought in times of need is, “What can I do to help?”
Ultimately, this is what being an everyday marksman means to me. It means having the ability to provide fundamental needs for myself, my family, and my community should the need ever arise. It is but one out of a myriad of skills I seek to cultivate for the betterment of myself and those around me. Just as we would be hard pressed to deny effective tools to the gardener, books to the teacher, or medicine to the caregivers, we should allow effective tools for the marksmen. And I take great exception to attempts to deny those tools based upon mischaracterizations and lies.
We, the everyday people, are what make this country great. Don’t be so willing to give up the rights of others simply because you don’t understand them. Someday, it may come back to haunt you.