The 6 Most Annoying Gun Cliches (updated)

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Anyone who has been a part of America’s gun culture for a good amount of time has probably heard plenty of clichés at the gun store counter or the local range. With the growth of social media over the past decade, these catch phrases are being blasted out to the masses in the form of memes, status updates and the like. Some of these sayings are innocent and even endearing, but some are outright misrepresentations of the gun owning community. A lot of us, including me, have used some of these phrases before in passing without really thinking about what they mean and how they can affect the way that we are perceived. With this post I am going to detail 6 clichés that I think are overused and probably even reckless when put in proper context.

1.      “It’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”

This flippant attitude toward the use of deadly force is both ignorant and dangerous. Any armed citizen who takes their legal obligations this lightly is a liability to society as a whole, not to mention the danger that they pose to themselves if they are ever faced with a true conundrum. Having taught use of force for several years as part of my concealed handgun license classes, I don’t know how anyone with even the baseline required training can possibly miss the “last resort” part of using deadly force. The concept that potentially taking a life should be considered only in the direst of circumstances is one that any instructor worth his or her salt ought to be covering thoroughly. I believe that most instructors are diligent to point this out, but there are just some students who don’t want to hear it because of their egos. I understand that this is often said in jest, and I probably said it myself early on in my life as an armed citizen. However, in light of recent national headlines; I cannot fathom why anyone would truly believe that this is a wise maxim to live by. If you ask George Zimmerman how much “better” it was to live to be “judged by 12”; I’m not so sure he would be as bold with this chest-thumping bravado.  What’s better is to never be judged by 12 or carried by 6. This is an outcome that is achievable through education and even temperament, which should be the virtues of any armed citizen.

2.      “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”

Do you even train bro? I am especially passionate about this one because I have no doubt that I have uttered these words before (probably several times). As a student of history and a red-blooded American male to boot, I grew up shooting 1911’s and have always loved the .45ACP round. It is the iconic American cartridge and is as legendary as the Greatest Generation that brought it to prominence. The problem is that with modern ballistic technology being what it is, the .45ACP is simply not the best choice for a defensive shooter. All shooting is a balance of speed and precision, and you simply cannot optimize that balance as well with a .45ACP as you can with a 9mm. This debate will rage on as long as there are trained and untrained individuals on internet forums sparring for attention. Science is an amazing thing. Once I accepted that there is no discernable difference between modern bonded hollow point ammunition in 9mm, .40, and .45 when it comes to wounding capacity or penetration depth, and combined that with the fact that I can shoot much faster with 9mm: the debate was over for me. I still love my .45 and I still love the history that it represents; but historical coolness will not better prepare me to defend myself. If you just can’t get over the facts, I would challenge you to carry this cliché to its natural conclusion and start concealed carrying a .50 or you’re obviously a wimp.

3.       I’m a “sheepdog”

I am a big advocate for LTC Dave Grossman and his work. “On Killing” and “On Combat” ought to be required reading for any armed citizen. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the books, but the good far outweighs the questionable. I had the pleasure of dining with the Colonel and engaged him one on one a couple of years ago. I can tell you that there is not a more passionate, dedicated advocate for personal responsibility and the right to keep and bear arms on this planet. That being said, some of the legion of followers that he has inspired have failed to take that inspiration any further than reading the words off of the page. Think about the essence of a true sheepdog for a minute. People pay top dollar to pedigreed breeders with special licenses and certificates in order to acquire the most pure bred sheepdogs to tend their herds. Every one of these sheepdogs is going to come with certain ingrained tendencies to want to protect and herd the flock. However, if I were to spend top dollar on a sheepdog and then bring it back to Texas, domesticate it by letting it lay on my couch, and never expose it to sheep; its sheepdog tendencies would soon be overcome by lapdog reality. I have a basset hound that was undoubtedly bred for hunting rabbits, but if I were to drag him out of his dog bed and take him to the woods, he would just as likely fall off of a cliff as catch a rabbit. You see, Sheepdogs must be TRAINED in order to hone their sheepdog essence and make a good, reliable working animal. The same thing can be said about the legion of “sheepdogs” that cling to LTC Grossman’s every word. There are plenty of “fanboys” of the sheepdog mentality who have never been to a training class of any kind. They may very well have the love for their fellow man and desire to protect others ingrained in them, but without proper training, they will be unlikely to be of any use when the wolf comes. So, if you fancy yourself a “sheepdog”: go get some training. If not, you’re just carrying the label as a crutch and may not rise to the occasion if it is ever required of you.

4.       “A little lady like you needs a little gun like this.”

This ridiculously condescending and sexist advice is usually followed by the recommendation of some tiny, malfunction-prone mouse gun or most unfortunately, a snub nosed .38. I have had several different women show up to my classes with little pink something or others that the dummy at the gun store sold them out of ignorance. Usually, by the end of even the most unchallenging concealed carry qualification, they are already asking for a different recommendation. This is especially true of women who show up with little micro revolvers with heavy DA triggers. As long as there is nothing physically wrong with a given female shooter, there are several options in the Modern Striker Fired list of guns that will work perfectly well for even the tiniest of frames. So, if you are the guy telling brand new female shooters to bring Beretta Nanos to my class, please… just.. stop.. Thanks.

5.       “That door was locked for your protection, not mine.”

Ok Rambo, apparently we need to talk about what doors are for. If you believe yourself to be such a super bad-ass, then why have a door at all? Since men have been building things, doors have been shut and locked generally to keep unwanted intruders out. If you think that a bad guy coming into your home is less safe in that moment than you are: you are a fool.  A home invader clearly has the upper hand if he has defeated your first tier of home defense in a locked door. The principles of a solid home defense plan should be to evade, barricade, and respond. Evasion means to get as far away from the bad guy as you can. If you can get out of the house, do it. If not, get to a pre-designated safe room and commence with barricading yourself inside. Somewhere in conjunction with evading and barricading, you should arm yourself for the possibility of a required response. If the bad guy defeats your barricade, that’s when you should be prepared to use deadly force if necessary. A t-shirt slogan like the one above betrays an ego that will not lead to a very proactive strategy for home defense and is little more than tough guy talk. Watch a few videos of home invasions and then tell me how you feel about doors.

6.) “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

This one is a favorite retort of Wayne Lapierre and other people who aren’t good at arguing on substance. There are actually plenty of ways to stop a bad guy with a gun. Take, for instance, the guys in Europe who jumped a terrorist armed with a rifle and subdued him with nothing but their bare hands. Those guys had the will to fight and the opportunity to act, which are really the two key factors at play in any of these situations. Overcoming evil is more about mindset than it is about tools. Obviously, if confronted with a gun, the best response would be to have a gun yourself and shoot back. However, we know that even outside of a “gun-free zone”, this isn’t always possible. What we need to be preaching to people is that the best way to stop a bad guy, regardless of his armament, is to be ready to beat his ass with whatever means available. If that happens to be a gun, great; but the fight isn’t necessarily lost just because of the disproportionate armament. If we start seeing classrooms full of people all charging the shooter with any improvised weapon they can grab on short notice, we will see fewer of these cowards seeking the easy fame of mass murder. We get pretty righteously irritated when the anti-gun media fixates on the tool over the person. As such, we need to make sure we aren’t guilty of the same logical fallacy. This cliche’ needs to go away along with the people who keep using it.

Obviously, this post is filled with a high level of snark and sarcasm. For me, that is the best way to confront these ideas in the context that they are most often conveyed. Words mean things. The sayings that we use are what the general public will use to paint a picture of who we are. This is especially true of our enemies who want to take our freedoms away. Politics is a thing, and public opinion can be swayed in this age of social media with the right meme. So consider what you say to others, and especially when you are talking to new shooters. They might not understand that you are “just kidding”. This is potentially life and death stuff we are talking about. Take it seriously.

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Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks: It’s called Neuroplasticity

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I often have students on my range who have previously learned and practiced shooting in a way that is counterintuitive and doesn’t work well in the context of self-defense. Typically, these students “came up” shooting bullseye targets in the Weaver stance while staring at the front sight for every single shot. When they come to a Combat Focus Shooting class, I introduce them to a natural, neutral, athletic stance that the human body instinctively puts us in when we are preparing to fight. I then teach them to fully extend the gun and engage the shoulders to allow for a presentation of the firearm that is consistent with the visual plane and helps with recoil management. Finally, I tell them only to close one eye and use the sights if the target dictates a need for greater precision, but to otherwise focus on the target and rely on proper kinesthetic alignment to achieve accurate shots. For those who have spent many years essentially just target shooting, this different way of doing things is going to take some “getting used to”; and this is before I even introduce other concepts such as lateral movement, processing information after an engagement, etc.. Fortunately for these students, the old cliché’ that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been proven by neuroscience to be patently false. While it will certainly take time and repetition, even brains that are “set in their ways” can be neurologically reshaped to produce the desired results, regardless of the age of the student. In fact, some of the repetition that can help in achieving this goal need not even occur on the range at all. It turns out that our brains are capable of far more adjustment than we have historically given them credit for.

In the past, our understanding of the way the brain works was based on the assumption that our neurons are “hardwired” to accomplish certain tasks in certain ways from childhood (or whenever we initially learn something), and could not be effectively re-adjusted later in life. This is where we get the “old dog” cliché’ mentioned above. However, neuroscientists have made new discoveries in the past couple of decades that have flown in the face of this old conventional wisdom. In fact, our brains are not “hardwired” in any sense of the word. Quite the contrary, our neurological “wiring” is constantly changing based on continued experiential learning that occurs throughout life. neuroplasticity-lodozo_com

The brain is capable of re-routing, adapting, discarding, and even creating new neurological pathways in ways that we simply couldn’t understand prior to technologies like eMRI imaging. We still don’t fully understand the brain’s ability to adapt, and are constantly finding new phenomena that challenge previously held dogma. This new understanding of the adaptability of the human brain is called “neuroplasticity”, and is changing the way that we view what learning really consists of. This has many positive implications for those students who are “re-learning” to shoot in the context of self-defense after many years of old school target-shooting.

We now know without a doubt that through practice and repetition, “old dogs” can in fact learn “new tricks”, though not usually overnight. When I have these “old dogs” in class, I can usually see the neuroplasticity mentioned above beginning to occur by about the afternoon of the second day of class. After doing hundreds of repetitions of the new skillset, I start to see the old “habits” melting away as they are replaced by what is being learned in class. The feet that used to be staggered start to square off. The one arm that used to be cocked is now reaching full extension. However, it doesn’t typically become fully ingrained in the short amount of time the 2 day class consists of. ruts

During drills that are designed to put the student off balance, I typically see those old habits “creep up” so to speak. All this means is that the synaptic connections that the new neurological pathways consist of have not fully developed and will require more “construction time” through continued practice. A mentor of mine refers to overcoming these old ‘habits’ as digging a new “rut in the road”. When we learn things in a certain way, we dig a mental rut (neural pathway), and replacing that old rut with a new one simply takes time and repetition. As such, jerking the steering wheel and getting frustrated is a waste of time. You simply have to be patient, keep practicing, and let the brain do what it does as the new “rut” is dug.

Fortunately, we have also learned that not all practice must be physical in order to be effective. In a 2007 Time Magazine article that goes into a lot of detail on neuroplasticity, we learn about a study that was conducted by a Harvard neuroscientist by the name of Alvaro Pascual-Leone. In this study, Pascual-Leone took 2 groups of volunteers and taught them how to play a simple melody on the piano as he measured the neurological activity in their brains. While one group learned to play the melody by physically touching the keys, the other was instructed to simply visualize themselves playing the notes. After a week of practice, both groups were able to physically play the melody on the piano, and the neurological changes observed in both groups were nearly identical. Through simply visualizing, one group was able to learn and execute the task just as well as those who had done the “hands on” learning.

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While I’m certainly not suggesting that you neglect your range time in favor of meditation, what I am suggesting is that a great deal can be accomplished just by visualizing yourself “doing it right”. This is going to be especially helpful when trying to “unlearn” some old habit and replace it with something new. If you will spend as much time as you do physically practicing, visualizing yourself executing the new skills you are learning; you will be surprised by how well you do when it comes time to physically execute them on the range.  Visualization techniques have been used to help professional athletes perform at high levels, and to help clinically depressed and OCD patients overcome their disorders; and it will undoubtedly help you learn to efficiently integrate with a handgun.

The human brain is an amazing organ. We are just now starting to see just how malleable and capable of adjustment it really is. So, if you are an “old dog” who used to shoot weaver stance at bullseye targets, you too can learn new skills in context; it’s just going to take some extra time and dedication. If you are willing to put in the work, your brain will do the rest.

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Thoughts on the Oregon Spree-murder: Always Fight

Once again, mass murder has occurred in the United States. This time, it took place at a small community college in Oregon. Before the bodies of the victims had even been removed from the building, the predictable political talking points on both sides were already flying. From the left, represented by the President’s speech, you have the typical illogical calls for more gun control. From the right, led by conservative pundits, you have the typical cliché’s about gun free zones and “good guys with guns”. Instead of getting lost in the political drama that always unfolds after one of these tragedies; the better approach would be to try and learn something from what transpired. By doing this, we can better prepare ourselves for the unlikely chance that we may find ourselves in the same situation. In this article, I will attempt to dissect some of the talking points and discover what the real lessons are.

The types of people who commit mass murder are by their very nature risk averse; they are cowards. This is the reason that so called “gun free zones” can be such inviting targets for these attacks. However, in talking about this fact, you have to be careful in the way that you expound on it. It isn’t necessarily the case that removing gun restrictions would significantly increase the chances that a spree murderer will be met by a “good guy with a gun”. After all, murders occur in places where guns are not restricted every day because there simply aren’t that many people (even licensed) who carry guns regularly in the public space, even when allowed to do so. What makes a “gun free zone” so inviting is all about the psychological perception of risk on the part of the violent actor, whether it actually exists or not. If criminal actors were rational, they would realize that the probability of encountering an armed citizen outside of a “gun free zone” is not significantly higher than it would be inside of one, statistically speaking. The reason that doing away with gun restrictions curbs violent crime to a degree is the same reason that most people won’t go skydiving; but will still drive their cars on the dangerous highways. People tend to perceive that the risk associated with skydiving is higher than driving even though, statistically speaking; it is the other way around. Doing away with gun restrictions has the same effect on the way most violent actors make decisions. If a would-be spree-murderer perceives that they might face armed resistance, irrational though it may be; their risk aversion will usually cause them to choose a different target. So, while I certainly agree with the conservative pundits who decry gun-free zones, it’s not because I believe that ending the restrictions would necessarily mean that spree murderers will likely be confronted by an armed citizen, though that certainly could happen. What we do know from research by John Lott is that allowing concealed carry lowers the chances that the violence will occur at all, mostly for the psychological reasons listed above.

The initial reports coming out of Oregon detailed the horrific way that the murderer systematically executed his victims, apparently having them all lie on the floor and then, one by one, stand up and announce their religion before being murdered. At the outset, it seemed as if everyone in the room had allowed this to happen as they waited for the police to hopefully rescue them; something that never happens quickly, if at all. Then this morning we learned about a guy named Chris Mintz, an Army Veteran who was shot multiple times as he charged at the shooter. Though he was unsuccessful in his attempt to end the violent attack, we can learn much from his willingness to fight and his audacity to do so. Imagine if a spree murderer, having chosen to attack what he believes to be defenseless victims, were met by a room full of people with the resolve and intestinal fortitude of Chris Mintz. Imagine if only 3 or 4 individuals in the room yesterday would have had the same resolve. Yes, the would-be heroes would be at a disadvantage, but there is really nothing magical about the attacker having a firearm. Given the right opportunity, and depending on the totality of the circumstances; even a small group of determined unarmed defenders can very easily best an armed attacker. Just look at the incident that occurred on the train in France last month where 3 unarmed guys overtook a terrorist with a rifle. The will to fight and violence of action cannot be overlooked as a powerful force, regardless of what tools one may or may not possess on either side of the fight. Think back to the couple of guys who tried to hijack planes not long after 9/11. Practically the whole cabin subdued them and beat them to a pulp. I don’t foresee that hijacking a commercial airliner will be the first choice of many terrorists going forward.

It is possible to have the same psychological effect on bad guys that loosening gun restrictions does if more people were simply willing to fight for their lives. If violent actors in our culture were made to expect resistance regardless of where they choose to attack, these spree-murders would become more of an anomaly then they already are. The lesson we should learn from this tragedy and many others like it is that we must teach people to actively resist the evil in this world instead of willfully succumbing to it. No mass murderer should be able to expect to line his victims up and systematically execute them, because no individual American should be willing to allow it to go down that way. Unfortunately, the default for most humans is compliance with evil. Most people will go out of their way to try and appease the bad man, hoping that someone is going to rescue them. Until that victim mentality is less pervasive than it is today, we can expect more fame-seeking psychopaths to find opportunities to act out their violent plans with impunity. We have to work to instill the mentality that you are never out of the fight, no matter what tools are involved. Regardless of how long it takes for the political process to unfold in the gun rights arena, we all have the right and the ability to fight back, if we can only find the resolve to do so. We should never allow ourselves to be victimized when we have the ability to resist, and we should never assume that the tools of violence are the only variable in the equation.

Gun free zones are an abomination and should be done away with; there is no doubt about that. Furthermore, no piece of legislation or speech from a President will ever nullify the wickedness of mankind. What we really need are more Americans like Chris Mintz, with a fighting spirit and resolve, which refuse to be victimized. We should be focused on making more “victim free zones”, and then we can worry about the tools we use to fight back. Would be violent-actors won’t be as likely to attack if they perceive the risk of facing resistance. Let’s work on giving them the perception that, armed or not, none of us will go down without a fight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy. We learn from their suffering with the hope that we can prevent more suffering in the future. Evil will always exist, and the best we can do is to accept that fact and be prepared to confront it.

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“Tools for the Toolbox”– Another way to look at the metaphor

One of the most overused cliché’s in the training industry is “another tool for the toolbox” when referring to a tactic or technique and its viability. Usually you hear it when an instructor is trying to explain why they teach a certain thing without being able to justify it in a meaningful way. As such, it is usually just a cop-out on important questions about the tactic or technique and really shouldn’t be accepted as a real answer in an intellectual discussion. However, I feel that the saying itself warrants some further dissection as to the relevance of the metaphor and its usage as related to training since it is something that comes up so frequently.

The reason we have tools and toolboxes is that different tasks require different tools. If you need to tighten up a hexagonal bolt, a Phillips head screwdriver isn’t going to do you any good. When we translate that to a metaphor for training, the tool is the technique and the task is the context. The tactic or technique (tool) needed is dependent on the context of use. For instance, if I am on a SEAL team, I am going to require different tactics and techniques to accomplish my mission than a civilian would for personal defense. If I am a civilian and I spend time filling up my “toolbox” with tools that only door-kickers need, I may have a sexy-looking toolbox; but it’s going to be filled with tools that I don’t need.

The more an individual shooter values training, the more likely they are to accumulate multiple tools and even amass multiple toolboxes. I can remember my grandpa having an entire workshop full of every sort of tool you can think of that he had amassed over a long life of building and/or fixing things. Some of those tools he may have only needed once or twice but yet they still remained somewhere in his storage shed. As someone who takes training seriously, you may have trained with several different trainers, with several different backgrounds, who may have taught you tactics or techniques that work for several different contexts. If that is the case and you have amassed many “tools for your toolbox”, you will have an important decision to make: what tools to put on your tool-belt.

Your tool-belt should contain tools that you are proficient with that you know you might need at a moment’s notice for the most probable task at hand. Your tool-belt goes with you in your work truck and is always on your person at the job site. Sometimes the contents may change depending on what you expect to encounter, but they should stay pretty consistent. You want those tools to be efficient, practical, and versatile based on what your daily routine consists of. You don’t want to have a tool-belt that is overly bulky, and you don’t want to have any wasted space. When you look at your training in this way, you want to make sure that even if you have 10 different classes with 10 different methodologies in your “toolbox”; that you have chosen only the tactics and techniques (tools) that are the most practical and efficient for your “tool-belt”. It would make no sense for an electrician to carry a hatchet on his tool-belt; just as it would make no sense for a civilian concealed carrier to carry 5 man room-clearing techniques on his. An electrician may know how to use that hatchet, just as you may know how to clear a room on a 5 man stack; but it isn’t something that is going to warrant carrying around or dedicating much practice time to.

Yes, it is good to take classes and to get as much knowledge as you can. There is much to be gained by training with different instructors and learning new things. In doing this, you may in fact amass a large set of “tools for your toolbox”. Just make sure you are very careful about which of those tools go on your tool-belt when you go to the range to practice and when you live your daily life. Choose only those tools that apply to your most probable context of use and leave the rest at home in the shed.

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“Fixing” the Gun Culture’s Training Deficit

I got a great question from a student during the debrief for my one day Defensive Focus Shooting class this past weekend. The question was: how can we fix the training deficit that exists in the gun culture? This question came right after I had told the class that I believe state-mandated training should be abolished because it gives most people a false sense of security. I believe that when the state gives people a score and tells them that they are “certified”, it has a tendency to make most of them believe that they have met their training responsibility and don’t need to do anything else. I believe that responsible armed citizens will seek out quality training on their own, without prodding from the bureaucracy. Furthermore, I have seen that more people seem to find their way into real training if they aren’t forced to take a lowest common denominator class in order to exercise their rights. The student who asked the question made the point that he wouldn’t have known about my Defensive Focus Shooting class had he not gone through the licensing process with me. While that was certainly true for him, I don’t believe that most people are getting good follow-on training resources from their CHL instructors. I wish that were the case, and though some of my peers in the local CHL instructor community are advocates for follow-on training; I believe that is more the exception than the rule. The fact of the matter is that the best thing we can do to “fix” the training deficit in the gun culture is to become training evangelists.

As armed citizens who take training for personal defense seriously, you have “seen the light” so to speak. Most people don’t tend to make it to that point purely by coincidence or stumbling around on the internet. Most people find out about training classes from people they know. I myself would still be lost in the sauce had someone I met at the range not invited me to a class. Out of all the marketing methods I have tried, the most effective is just plain old word of mouth. If you go to a class and learn things, you should tell your friends and family who own guns for personal defense about that class and why they should attend. Additionally, you should be doing the things you learn in that class on the range when you practice, which will cause people to ask you questions; thereby giving you further opportunities to evangelize. Most people who are part of the gun culture spend some amount of time on the range; and they may even be doing what they view as “practicing” with their defensive handguns. When you share a shooting bay with these people and they see you practicing in the way that you learned in class, it will likely be radically different from what they are doing. When they ask questions, this gives you the opportunity to point them to the resources they need.

One of the most satisfying things in the world to me as an instructor is seeing former students training in context at the range; and I’m not the only one who sees that. We can “fix” the gun culture training deficit one conversation at a time. Go to the range, have conversations, and spread the good word!

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Christians and Firearms: Refuting a British Theologian

I recently came across an article on my Facebook newsfeed from Christian Today entitled Should Christians Own Guns? A British theologian’s view. In this article, British theologian Krish Kandiah made an attempt to lend moral authority to the same old leftist anti-gun talking points that you would see coming from Bloomberg or the Brady Campaign. While I am not inclined to legitimize the opinions of any Brit theologians on matters of armed self-defense in the United States (we won that argument at Yorktown), I have found that the views expressed in this article are held by many American believers; and thus a response is warranted. Below I will do my best to address each assertion made by the article.

The piece starts off by detailing several tragic deaths caused by accidental shootings, as is commonplace in the gun control crowd. The thing I notice from each one of the incidents he cites is that failure to follow gun safety protocol was at fault in each one. This evidences a need for proper training and discipline as opposed to a need for a gun ban. With a quick google search I can find thousands of examples where carbon monoxide produced by household heating devices has killed entire families as they slept. Does this mean that we should ban indoor heating or does it necessitate education on the dangers of carbon monoxide and why you should install an alarm? If you apply the author’s logic to everything that, if misused, can cause death or serious bodily injury; we would be banning almost every modern convenience from automobiles to space heaters. Opening a piece on the morality of gun control with these statistics is a red herring at best and I would tend to expect better from someone with the title “theologian”. The author then launches into a refutation of another “theologian” by the name of Wayne Grudem. Grudem has apparently written in defense of Christians owning firearms with 6 basic points. While I have not studied Grudem’s work in depth, I will deal with the author’s treatment of his argument assuming that Grudem made his argument as detailed therein.

  • Constitutional Right

The author makes the case that protection against tyranny is not something that is relevant in our “stable democratic environment”, and that just because the constitution allows something does not mean that it would be appropriate for a Christian to do it. On the first point, I would like to remind the author that his dear Great Britain has in fact exercised tyrannical powers quite recently, and that the handguns we are able to possess legally in the United States have in fact been banned by the UK in all of its territories. Just because we aren’t likely to need to defend ourselves from King George again anytime soon does not mean that tyranny is not a real threat, or that the 2nd Amendment isn’t relevant in that context. The fact that the British never had anything in their founding documents that protected the right to bear arms is why it was so easily taken away at the behest of the mob in the wake of some gun tragedies in the 90’s. Americans aren’t about to let that happen, and I don’t expect a Brit to understand that, as the author clearly does not.

On his second point under this heading, I agree that just because something is “allowed” by the state does not mean that Christians ought to partake. However, the Bill of Rights does not “allow” anything. The Bill of Rights protects natural rights from being infringed upon. You cannot “allow” or “disallow” a fundamental human right, so his argument starts from a false premise to begin with. Furthermore, the author chose two more red herrings by bringing up gay marriage and abortion to illustrate his point. The Constitution does not protect either of these things. The courts may have ruled on them, but the Constitution is silent on them. This is a clear attempt to force the armed believer to defend their stance on two totally unrelated topics as a way to deflect the absurdity of the author’s claims about self-defense. I can find no passage in scripture that would frown on me practicing my right to bear arms for self-defense, while I can find plenty of scriptures that frown on abortion and homosexuality. Just the fact that I am forced to make that statement, which is likely to offend some 2nd amendment proponents who may be gay or pro-abortion, is evidence of the way the left tries to manipulate the argument. There is no  prohibition against owning weapons for self-defense, implicit or explicit anywhere in scripture. Clearly, the author can’t find any such prohibition either, or he probably would have detailed it.

  • Self-Defense

The author argues that just because self-defense is a right does not mean that someone necessarily has the right to own a gun. This argument implies that while we know that violent men do in fact possess guns and frequently use them to harm innocents; that we should make it such that their potential victims are less prepared to defend themselves by disallowing them the same tools that their assailants possess. While this logic is flawed on its face, the author again employs his favorite logical fallacy with the red herring of “rocket launchers”. I can think of no armed Christian who is making the case that they should be allowed to possess a rocket launcher for self-defense. This guy should really learn to argue better. When swords and daggers were the weapons of choice, it would have been ridiculous to prevent the private ownership of those tools (though I’m sure the Brits tried that too); and since we live in an age where the most efficient and readily available weapons are firearms, we cannot expect to protect ourselves from bad men with firearms without being allowed to possess firearms ourselves. The author would apparently have you believe that the best defense against a bad man with a gun is good intentions. Just because the author has a right to publish this article doesn’t mean he needs a word processor to do it. See what I did there?

  • Protection of Others

The author argues that if guns were more highly regulated, it would be harder for bad guys to get guns and then he quotes another “Christian” gun control activist to say that civilians just can’t be trusted to shoot the right people in the event of an “active shooter” situation. To his first point, regulations that make it harder to buy guns only make it harder for people who buy guns legally to buy guns. Bad guys typically get their guns from the black market and by theft. There is no instance I can think of where a mass shooting was thwarted because the bad man went to Academy and wasn’t able to buy a pistol because he failed a background check. Even in the author’s beloved UK, gun violence is still a thing despite the attempts to regulate it away. Furthermore, guns are just one tool that can be used for murder. Murder is the action we are trying to prevent; I don’t care what tool is utilized in its commission. Would a mass stabbing be more palatable to the liberal theologian?

On the second point, I would agree that citizens need to take gun training more seriously. My primary mission as an educator of armed citizens is to make people aware of their responsibility to train and point them to the places where they can do that. That being said, there is no example on record where an armed citizen has responded to an active shooter and killed innocent bystanders. It just hasn’t happened. It flies in the face of human psychology for an armed citizen to indiscriminately open fire when there is a risk to innocents in the immediate area. There are several instances such as the Oregon mall shooting where the exact opposite has happened, and armed citizens have held their fire for fear of hitting innocent bystanders. This mythical fear is parroted by so many so-called “experts”, that even some individuals in the supposed pro-gun community have used it as an excuse to infringe on the rights of the churchgoer by prohibiting legal concealed carry. Yes, people should train more. No, we should not use lack of training as an excuse to infringe on someone’s rights. With all of the training that these theologians get, they still can’t always get it right. I guess we should ban them from writing articles. See what I did there, again?

  • Sport

If the pro-gun guy that the author seeks to refute used “sporting purposes” in his defense of gun ownership, he set himself up for failure. As we can see in the article, liberals don’t want you to own guns for any purpose. We as a community have got to get away from the ‘sporting purposes’ defense for this very reason. The author goes so far as to suggest that Christians ought to forego hunting if it will mean “fewer people dying”. I think the author should forego writing so that fewer of my brain cells will explode trying to comprehend his logic. He cites the Salvation Army’s prohibition of drinking alcohol as an example of when Christians have given up one of their rights in order to show a positive example and promote cultural change. In my opinion, it is always a mistake to adopt that line of thinking. Alcohol must be ABUSED by a person in order for it to ruin his or her life. It is the actions of the individual using the objects that are harmful, not the objects themselves. When we start assigning morality to amoral inanimate objects, whether bottles of liquor or guns; we are going to be setting ourselves up for failure in the logic department. It is what you do with the alcohol or the gun that is good or evil, not the object itself. There is an appropriate time to partake in alcohol, as is clearly detailed in the scripture; just as there is an appropriate time to make use of arms for hunting and/or self-defense. Possessing the tools or objects themselves cannot be evil by itself and does not promote evil; and getting rid of the tools or objects cannot prevent evil either. Evil is in the heart of man, not in the tools and objects he uses to bring it to fruition. This was the whole failure of the Law of Moses and the whole work and person of Jesus Christ in fulfilling the law. Jesus did not and does not focus on the things and rules of this world; He works on the hearts of men. We cannot prevent murder by foregoing hunting; we can only do that by spreading the love of Jesus, and I’m obviously all for that.

  • Biblical Precedent

The author takes issue with the interpretation of a passage that I love so much, I decided to put it on a t-shirt (which stirred much debate): Luke 22:36-38. In this passage, Jesus is talking to his apostles shortly before His arrest in the garden, and is warning them that times are about to change. Only a few days before, Jesus and his disciples were welcomed into Jerusalem with great fanfare, while in a few hours from this passage; they would become enemies of Rome after watching their leader face execution at the hands of the state. This is what Jesus is alluding to when He tells the apostles to make sure that they have a money bag and a sword; two things that would be appropriate to possess as hunted men, which the apostles would soon be. It can be seen clearly from this passage that there is a metaphorical purpose that Jesus has in making His statement about the need for a sword; but that does not negate the literal part of it. If Jesus had a problem with the apostles carrying swords for personal defense, he would have chosen a different metaphor. Furthermore, a few minutes forward, during Jesus’ arrest; Peter slices off the ear of a Roman soldier. This would have been an appropriate time for Jesus to scold Peter for his possession of the sword, but he instead tells him to merely “put it back in its place” i.e. a scabbard (Matt 26:52). Notice that He doesn’t tell Peter to get rid of his sword altogether, just that his use of it in this instance was inappropriate given the circumstances. He tells Peter “He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword.” This is another important distinction: Christians should not put their faith in defensive tools whether it is a sword, a pistol, or bare hands; our hope as believers is in the Lord. That does not however mean that we should not possess weapons for the times when using them is appropriate any more than it means we shouldn’t go to work every day even though our faith is in God to provide for us. As is detailed in Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time and place for everything; and using weapons for self-defense when appropriate would definitely be included in that.

There are a number of other passages in both testaments that endorse self-defense generally and use of weapons specifically from the Law of Moses to the reconstruction of Jerusalem in Nehemiah when families were in fact commanded to be armed. I cannot possibly go into detail on all of these passages in one article, but if you want to see for yourself; checkout www.biblicalselfdefense.com. There is no mandate for Christian pacifism anywhere in scripture and one theologian’s liberal agenda does not change that fact, no matter how much he might wish otherwise.

  • Cultural Identity

 This is one aspect that I especially don’t expect a Brit to understand. Gun ownership is in the blood of the American citizen. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has appropriately titled gun fighting as the “American Martial Art”. In Japan, they have the Samurai, and in America, we have the Pistolero. We as Christians should find our ultimate identity in Jesus Christ, but there is nothing remotely sinful or wrong about taking pride in one’s heritage. God himself chose to preserve the Scripture in part by giving the Jewish people a strong desire to preserve their culture and heritage. If the Jews had not been a proud people with a strong oral and written tradition, and had they not carried that out over millennia; we would not have the scriptures. God does not begrudge a people their traditions and culture until those things overshadow their devotion to God himself. Winning the world for Jesus Christ is obviously far more important than preserving the gun culture in America; but the two are not by any means mutually exclusive.

At the end of the day, this ham-fisted attempt to lend moral authority to the gun control movement was both disingenuous and shallow from an argumentative and theological standpoint. To remove the right to self-defense and the possession of weapons to that end from the Biblical narrative is to ignore and discount most if not all of the narrative of the Jewish people and the coming of the Messiah. Jesus didn’t command any of his followers to own firearms; but He certainly didn’t condemn it. Armed believers should never be ashamed or made to believe that their possession of lethal instruments for self-defense is sinful or inappropriate. Great armed men of God from David to Peter are evidence to the contrary.

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Gun Safety PSA: Minimize the administrative handling of your firearm

A recent news story in Midland detailed an incident where a man took his firearm out in his vehicle and had a negligent discharge, which injured him with a minor gunshot wound. The initial reports indicated that he was carrying the firearm in his pocket without a holster (a bad idea), though I cannot confirm that this was the case. Regardless, the incident brings to mind a safety issue that a lot of people take for granted: you should minimize the administrative handling of your firearm. Administrative handing is any handling of your firearm that is not consistent with presenting it from the holster in a self-defense situation or in training. Any time you are loading, unloading, holstering, or un-holstering outside of training or an actual worst-case-scenario; that is administrative handling of the firearm. This administrative handling should be limited to cleaning and other maintenance-related activities; but should not be something that happens several times throughout the day and especially not in the public space.

Negligent discharges on modern handguns are caused by a negligent action that inadvertently actuates the firing mechanism, causing a round to be fired. Firearms do not just “go off” on their own under any but extreme circumstances involving disrepair or extreme heating of the barrel. When someone claims that a firearm “just went off”; it usually means that they are trying to protect their ego, typically out of sheer embarrassment. The fact is that you have to be doing something that you ought not to be doing in order to have a gun fire when you do not intend for it to do so.

In my experience, it is usually not novice gun owners who experience negligent discharges. Novice gun owners usually have a heightened level of respect and sometimes even a level of fear in regard to handling their firearm, simply due to their limited experience with it. This causes them to be extra tentative and cautious in most cases when handling the firearm. On the contrary, it is typically “experienced” gun owners who have negligent discharges. This phenomenon can be summed up with one word: complacency. When the gun becomes such an ingrained part of your lifestyle that you forget about the lethal potential it possesses, you will start to treat it like other inanimate objects in your life. You don’t worry about taking your cell phone or keys out of your pocket and setting them down places, because they are not dangerous and pose no risk to anyone if mishandled. For a lot of folks in the gun culture, a gun can have a tendency to become a mere accessory if we aren’t careful and disciplined. It’s usually when that complacent attitude, unconscious though it may be, becomes a reality that bad things like negligent discharges happen.

In order to avoid this complacency and minimize the opportunity for human nature to take over, we should limit our administrative handling of our firearms. Once the gun goes into the holster for the day, it should stay in the holster until it comes off and goes back into a quick access safe or wherever it goes to be secured for the night. If you need to remove your firearm for some reason, such as before moving into a non-permissive environment; remove the entire holster and secure it while it is still in the holster. It is a bad idea to constantly un-holster and re-holster throughout the day. Every time you remove the firearm from the holster administratively, you are giving yourself an opportunity to make a mistake. This is especially true if you are doing so in a vehicle, a bathroom stall, or some other random place that isn’t where you normally secure or stage your firearms. This is why we hear stories like the one in Midland earlier this week, or instances where people have destroyed innocent toilet bowls in public restrooms.

A firearm is a weapon that if used negligently or maliciously can kill or seriously injure its owner or someone else. If we remember this fact, we will minimize how often we handle the gun administratively. This requires a high level of discipline, but discipline is demanded of the responsible gun owner so that we don’t have to learn lessons the hard way. Don’t let yourself get lackadaisical about the handling of your firearm, or you may have to learn a lesson the hard way; and sometimes that ends with you coming away in handcuffs or a body bag.

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Get Your Priorities Straight

One of the things I often hear from people who own guns and know about my classes is that it “sounds cool”, but that they really “can’t afford” to come to class. Without fail, these same people will be super excited to tell me about their most recent gun purchase. While I do not begrudge anyone their right to own as many guns as they want, this phenomenon shows a big problem of prioritization. If you own several guns ostensibly for personal defense (especially if you are carrying these guns or staging them inside the home), but you have not sought out any formal training beyond the state licensing class: you have screwed up priorities and you need to fix yourself.

The average tuition of a defensive handgun training class from a reputable instructor for 2 full days is usually less than $500, and that is for the big name guys who are teaching all over the country. For a regional guy like me, you are going to pay something like half of that for the same type of class. Your average defensive handgun usually runs at least that much depending on the manufacturer and whether it is new or used. This means that the people who are telling me they can’t afford my class are spending sometimes 2 and 3 times what it would cost to come out and train for 1 day to go buy multiple new guns. Like I said, that is all fine and good; but don’t tell me in the same conversation that you take personal defense seriously. You may be a hobbyist or a collector, but you are not serious about personal defense if you are buying new guns but can’t find the motivation to train. The real reason people don’t come to classes isn’t because they can’t afford it; that is just a convenient excuse. They don’t come to class because they don’t think they need to. It’s a problem of motivation and mentality, not finances. I have held free classes with low round counts that people have signed up for and then not showed; so clearly money isn’t the problem for most folks.

In his book Training at the Speed of Life, Ken Murray describes four mental states that people go through prior to and during training: unconscious incompetency, conscious incompetency, conscious competency, and unconscious competency. Most people are in a state of unconscious incompetency when it comes to defensive shooting skills: they don’t know what they don’t know. This usually comes from the fact that they believe that they already possess the skills necessary to use a gun for personal defense because they “learned how to shoot” from their grandpa or whoever. The truth is that they may well have learned to do the mechanical things involved in operating the firearm and putting bullets on target; but they may fail to recognize that this is only one piece of the puzzle. The majority of gun owners will stay in a perpetual state of unconscious incompetency for many different reasons. For some, it has to do with ego: they don’t want to learn that they are not as awesome as they thought they were. Usually this happens to guys with a background whether they are former military, law enforcement, etc. For others it usually has to do with ignorance: they just haven’t come to the realization that training is important. This is usually fueled primarily by state mandated training requirements having given them a false sense of security. A lot of folks will have the idea that because they “qualified” in their licensing class that they have met their responsibility because of the card they now get to put in their wallet. Whatever the cause, it is a prevailing mental state that really has nothing to do with class “affordability” in most cases.

People who are coming to training classes have reached a state of conscious incompetency where they realize that there are things that they don’t know that they probably should know if they intend to carry a gun. These people will feel compelled as responsible armed citizens to seek out additional training above and beyond what they receive in a licensing class. Actually, residents of states with no licensing requirement are usually far more likely to reach this mental state because no official body has given them the aforementioned false sense of security that comes with the card in the wallet. Many guys with experience in military or law enforcement are able to check their egos and come to this point as well, though it may take more effort at times due to the fact that they might train on gun-related tasks as part of their day job. I know I always thought training was a drag when I was in the Army, but that is mostly because it wasn’t really “training” at all. Qualification ranges and other feeders of the power point slide are not really beneficial, and a lot of people who have participated in that sort of “training” are less likely to come to a class because that’s what they think it will be like.

When someone who has reached the state of conscious incompetency and comes to a class; they can usually get to the point during 1 or 2 days of training where they are consciously competent: able to perform the tasks while thinking specifically about them. Here, the problem of prioritization can kick back in because to truly be as well prepared as you can be, you want to be able to do things without having to think about them. You want to reach a state of unconscious competency where you are able to perform your skills on demand regardless of the circumstances and how hard you may be thinking about the task. The only way you can do this is by taking the things you learn in class and then practicing them frequently on your own. This will require making deliberate practice with your firearm a part of your lifestyle. If you look at the entire gun owning public, there are probably less than 10% even within the gun culture who have actually made this a lifestyle priority. It will mean making ammo a part of your monthly budget instead of just a recreational activity splurge. It will mean you have to regularly set aside time in a way that you would for other “productive” things as opposed to how you randomly find time for “leisurely” activities. Being competent with your defensive gun will become a necessity to you as opposed to a “that would be fun” idea.

Don’t use your financial budget as an excuse to miss training opportunities when motivation and mentality are really the issue. If that has been you in the past, by reading this article you should have at least reached the state of conscious incompetency. It’s up to you now to deal with that and take the next step by getting to a class. If not, you’ll be in a state as yet not described, but easily understood: DENIAL. Don’t let that be you: get to a class and then get back out to the range to practice regularly. It is true that people who don’t train with their defensive guns survive encounters with bad guys every day. It is also true that inattentive drivers avoid being hit my oncoming traffic every day. I’m not going to bet on luck to bring me through my armed citizen lifestyle, and neither should you.

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Armed Parenting: Meeting Your Responsibility

If you have kids living in your home and own guns for personal defense, you have a big responsibility to fulfill. You must make sure that you are taking the proper steps to balance your need to secure your firearms and your need to have easy access to them in a worst case scenario. Furthermore, and most importantly, you must provide your kids with a proper education on the safe handling and appropriate use of firearms.

Security and Staging

               Firearms owned for personal defense are not “stored”, they are “secured” and “staged”. Let’s define those words. To “store” a firearm is to lock it away when it is not in use with the ammunition stored separately. Hunting rifles and shotguns are “stored” when they are not in use outside of hunting season. Heirlooms and collector’s items are the types of guns that might also be “stored”. To “secure” a firearm is to take steps that are reasonable to prevent unauthorized access to the firearm when it is not in use. To “stage” a firearm is to put it in a place that allows easy access to it in a worst case scenario. Defensive firearms should be “secured” and “staged” as opposed to “stored”. If you have kids living with you, or if kids spend any time in your home; you must make sure that you secure your defensive firearms in such a way that children cannot get access to them. This can be accomplished while still staging them to allow for quick access when you need it.

Your large, key operated gun safe is not going to accomplish these goals because the keys are usually cheap and easy to break, difficult to operate under stress, and require you to “hide” the key as well to truly secure them. In a worst case scenario, you don’t want to be hunting for a key to the safe and then fumbling around with it during the moment of truth. Think of the horror movies where the axe murderer is chasing the main character while they haplessly fumble with getting the keys in the door. You don’t want that to be you.

A modern quick-access safe with either the 4-button combo or the biometric fingerprint scanner is the best way to accomplish the goal of balancing security with accessibility. These types of safes will keep kids from gaining access while allowing you to quickly gain access under stress if you need to. Pro Tip: if you choose one of the biometric safes; load several different orientations of each fingerprint so that the safe will open whether you hit it the same way every time or not. Most safes will let you store up to 100 or more fingerprints, so I would store several orientations of each finger you intend to use for each person you want to have access.

Loaded or Unloaded

               Obviously, if you are going to stage your guns for defensive purposes, it makes no sense to store the ammunition separately. The question isn’t whether they should be loaded but whether you should have a round in the chamber or not. Most quick-access safes are simply lock boxes. If you are going to have a gun sitting inside of a box, you are going to want to have the trigger covered if you plan to keep it loaded and chambered. You wouldn’t want to go sticking your hand into the box and accidentally actuate the trigger under stress, potentially injuring your hand and causing the gun to malfunction in the process. Putting the gun inside of a holster even if it is something simple like the trigger-guard covers such as the Vanguard series from Raven Concealment will protect the trigger and allow you to still quickly present the firearm. If you are going to put it in the safe without a holster, I would recommend putting the magazine in but leaving an empty chamber. In most home defense situations, you are going to likely have more time to rack the slide and chamber a round; so it shouldn’t be a problem like it is for concealed carry where we are dealing with split seconds.

Where to Stage

               The best places to stage the quick access safe would be wherever you spend most of your time or whatever your “fall back” position is where you intend to barricade yourself in a worst case scenario. I personally have several safes in my house from my living room, bedroom, the kitchen, and the closet in my daughter’s room. I know that in a worst case scenario I am likely to be either already in one of those rooms or quickly moving toward one of them to barricade based on my home defense plan. Whatever your plan is, make sure that you have your guns staged in an intuitive way as part of that plan.

Discipline

               If you carry a firearm outside of the home, you must have the discipline to maintain control of your firearm by always having it in your possession, securing it when it isn’t, or rendering it inoperable. Whenever my gun is not in my holster on my body, it goes into one of my quick-access safes. If for some reason I do not put it directly into my quick access safe, I clear it and lock the slide open before I set it on any surface. This is something you must never get complacent about. Furthermore, you must be very careful with off-body carry options. If you carry your firearm in a bag or purse, that bag or purse needs to be in your direct control at all times and never left anywhere near where a child could get into it. You cannot set you purse in a cart at the store or leave it sitting next to your kid in the back seat of the car if there is a gun in it. You need to have that off-body option under your 100% control at all times; and when you get home you need to secure that gun just as if it were coming off of your hip. Glove boxes and consoles are not good places to put guns if you have kids in the car. Too often, parents forget the guns are there, kids get into the vehicles, and bad things happen. There are many stories of negligence where the parent fails to maintain control of an off-body carry option or forgets to secure a gun when returning from the public space. Practice meticulous discipline and don’t add to those statistics.

Education

There is no magic age for when a child is old enough to start learning about gun safety. It is up to the parents to know the maturity level of their children and make the appropriate decision on when to begin the conversation. I would say that as soon as a kid is old enough to learn about “stranger danger” and other common concepts that they are old enough to learn about gun safety. The National Rifle Association has a good program called “Eddie the Eagle” that breaks gun safety down “Barney-style” so that kids can understand it.

What you absolutely do not want to do is just tell your kids “never touch guns” or “only touch guns when an adult is present”. The former is naïve and the latter is only a piece of the puzzle. It is your responsibility to teach your children the basics of gun safety like how to keep the gun pointed in a generally safe direction, keep the finger off of the trigger until ready to fire, and (once they have enough dexterity) how to unload and clear the gun. You should do this by taking your kids to the range with you and showing them the proper context for responsible usage of firearms. This will be far better than just saying “don’t touch”. Kids are curious by nature and if that is as far as you go, they are going to touch the gun and touch it in an unsafe manner as soon as they are given the opportunity. If you take the time to actually teach your kids about gun safety, it will be likely that if they are exposed to a gun outside of your supervision; they will at the very least handle it safely. If you don’t feel qualified to do the teaching, there are instructors through the NRA and programs like Project Appleseed that can help.

Beyond just teaching kids about gun safety in general, you want to educate them about what to do in a worst case scenario. For instance, if your kids are located on the other side of the house from where your bedroom is, you don’t want them to be moving across the open areas of the house where the bad guy might be when the alarm goes off. It is up to you to communicate to your kids what you expect them to do if and when a bad situation occurs. It can be as simple as a conversation and as detailed as running scenarios, depending on how far you want to take it. Whatever you choose to do, they need to be aware that there is a plan and that they have a part to play in a worst case scenario.

Conclusion

               You can have guns in your home if you have kids. In fact, as someone who takes personal defense seriously, you should. In doing so, you must balance the need to secure your firearms with the ability to gain access to them. You must also educate your children on proper gun safety so that they know how to appropriately interact with firearms. Do these things and you will be meeting your responsibility as an armed parent.

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Growing The Gun Culture at the Grassroots

I have been a part of the gun culture since I was a child. My grandfather introduced me to shooting when I was very young. I was involved in marksmanship programs through Boy Scouts as a pre-teen, I joined the military as a young man, and I eventually became a defensive shooting instructor as an adult. With that background, it is no wonder that I now stand as an avid supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and an advocate for personal defense. However, this type of upbringing around guns is becoming more and more outside of the norm as our culture grows more urban and disconnected from its rural roots. In accepting this reality, it is imperative that we break from the traditional narrative and endeavor to grow the gun culture by reaching out in ways that may be uncomfortable to us.

When we examine the 2nd Amendment at its core, it is easy to see that it is based on personal defense. It exists to protect an individual’s right to own and carry firearms as an option for defense from every form of threat that may present itself from individual human aggression to a tyrannical government. We as advocates tend to focus on the latter in light of the fact that our government at the federal level has shown increasing hostility toward gun rights over the years. Slogans like the National Rifle Association’s “From my cold dead hands” or “stand and fight” act as battle cries for the base. Energizing the base is obviously important since the donations of legacy members are what the life of national gun rights organizations depend on. However, the strategies that work for pumping up the base will not necessarily aid in proselytizing to convert new supporters. We are essentially preaching the convention sermon at the revival meeting, and few if any are coming back for more. We need to get back to the gospel of personal defense at the grassroots level.

Personal defense is a fundamental human right. Anyone who has experienced something as simple as bullying will understand that human beings are built for self-defense; which means it requires little actual explanation. Depending on largely uncontrollable and unpredictable circumstances, some may be called on to defend themselves from the threat of deadly force. There are millions of people who have never owned guns that have nonetheless experienced the realities of this type of violence. Absent a strong ideological conditioning, anyone who has experienced such things is not a hard sell on the viability of firearms as an option for self-defense under those circumstances, often in spite of their political views on other issues. But what do we talk about with these people? We focus the narrative on government tyranny, “modern sporting rifles”, Obama, etc. This isn’t likely to appeal to the single mom who got beat half to death by her ex-boyfriend and now desires more options for self-defense if and when he or someone else tries again. We are talking about the wrong things at the grassroots level, and that is what limits the growth of our movement. It is up to us as individual gun owners to change this. If we as individuals take the lead, the national organizations will follow.

So, my challenge to you is to take someone outside of your circle of friends, someone who isn’t a part of the gun culture, to the range with you. Don’t wear your “infidel” t-shirt or your tactical gear; dress like a normal person. Base your discussions of gun rights on questions asked as opposed to talking points that you have learned over the years. Avoid platitudes and instead relate guns to the individual circumstances faced by this person. Do what you can to make this person your FRIEND, and they will likely see the gun culture in a new light at the very least. We as disciples of the way of the gun are stuck in Judea; and we desperately need to get to Samaria and the edges of the earth with our message. As we succeed in spreading this message, we will grow the gun culture and help to preserve our rights for the next generation.

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