What Good is a Right?

As I write this post, I am less than 24 hours away from teaching my first defensive shooting class of the 2016 spring/summer training season. Tomorrow I will have 12 armed citizens from across the state of Texas who are paying me to teach them potentially life-saving skills, should they ever face a worst-case scenario that requires the use of deadly force. These people are waking up early, driving out to a remote location, foregoing a weekend with their families, or even taking off work in some instances to get out and train realistically with their defensive pistols. This small group of students represents a growing but still small minority of armed citizens who understand that rights are pretty useless if they aren’t accompanied by some level of responsibility.

Consider for a moment the other rights you have. You have a right to life, but to stay alive, you obviously need to nourish your body with food and water; which must be purchased with money you earn at a job or is given to you as charity. If you want to live comfortably, you need shelter from the elements, which also must be purchased, rented, or received as charity. You have a right to move freely through the country, but you must purchase a vehicle or utilize public transportation if you want to do it efficiently. You have a right to free speech, but you aren’t going to be a good speaker if you don’t learn grammar and the ability to read, write, and speak appropriately. The rights you have don’t give you the ability to exercise them efficiently; you must either take responsibility for yourself or rely on society to take responsibility for you. The right to personal defense and to keep and bear arms are no different.

You have a natural human right to personal defense, and to own a firearm for that purpose. However, that right no more confers on you the ability to efficiently exercise it than your right to live and pursue happiness will keep you alive or make you happy. You have two options: to take responsibility for your own personal defense, or to outsource it to society. I am confident that no one reading this post is going to take the outsource route; as we are mostly “gun people” here. However, too many “gun people” seem to believe that just appreciating a right will make them magically able to exercise it in a life or death situation. A lot of “gun people” think that simply possessing a firearm and carrying it checks the responsibility block, but I beg to differ.

Simply owning a gun and/or putting it into a holster is only part of the responsibility equation. If you haven’t taken steps to learn how to use your gun in the context of what is most likely to happen to you as it relates to personal defense and then to practice those skills; you are not actually meeting your responsibility. You may well survive, as many do, having not met your responsibility; but you are merely betting on luck at that point. Possessing a gun no more prepares you for a gunfight than possessing a spatula makes you a good cook. The only way your spatula is going to reliably help you cook good meals is if you learn how to use it; and the same applies to your gun.

There are at least 12 people in Texas who understand this reality, and are taking appropriate steps to meet their responsibility. You have a right to carry a gun for personal defense, but your rights won’t save you. You have a responsibility to take it upon yourself to learn the skills necessary to efficiently use your gun. Getting formal training from a good instructor is a good first step in meeting that responsibility, and I hope to see some of you on the range! Whatever route you choose to take whether it is distance learning on your own or coming to a class, don’t let yourself believe that rights equal abilities. You wouldn’t apply that logic to any other right, so don’t apply it to your 2nd Amendment right either.

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