There is no doubt that recent events in Connecticut, New York, and California have raised questions in the minds of gun owners across America. Rightly so, as many of the actions taken by the federal, state, and local governments are clearly a violation of Constitutional rights, no matter if they are "duly passed laws" from the legislature. Many of these laws were passed with little to no time for public debate or scrutiny and with backroom negotiations, which creates (at the very, very least) an appearance of impropriety, and should prompt a reaction from armed citizens across the nation.
The issue I raise this evening is with the reaction I have seen. You will never find me opining loudly on Facebook, Google, or Instagram for an armed confrontation with the government. It is not because I don't believe that our rights are worth fighting for, but because at my heart I am an idealist. I was raised on John Wayne and apple pie, and I've seen enough of the world to believe that the United States has the greatest system of governance ever devised by mankind. Our Founding Fathers spent a great deal of time, and shed their blood, to ensure that the noble experiment they devised would last, and that freedom would persevere, so long as the people were good stewards of, and active participants in, the process of governance. I'll try not to go too far into political ramblings here, but the adage of "people get the government they deserve" is old, but true. If you are an armed citizen, I don't care if you've taken forty classes from high-speed instructors, have stockpiled enough ammo to survive the zombie apocalypse, and carry every single day. If you do not vote, you are useless to me. If you do not get educated on what is going on in government, you are useless to me. If you do not contact your representatives about issues that you care for deeply, you are useless to me.
If you sit behind your keyboard, and endlessly type MOLON LABE while talking about shooting it out with government agents and calling for armed revolution, you are just as useless to me as the hipsters in their Che shirts. First, most of the guys I know that have actually fought, watched their brothers die, and killed in the service of their country don't speak of violence lightly. So if all I hear out of you is about how you can't wait to get the shooting started, I get a very strong feeling that you don't know what you are talking about, and when the shooting does actually start, you'll need a change of pants, if you bother to show up at all. Second, you are doing a massive disservice to armed citizens everywhere. Gun control advocates have a well-oiled public affairs machine, and they have very few morals about using it when and how they feel necessary. They mine bulletin boards, pro-gun discussion groups, and citizens on the street (read: surveys) for quotes that they can use to paint the picture of armed citizens as angry, violent extremists. The worst part of it is, they don't have to look hard. We give them all the ammo they need to shoot us in the foot. Then we limp around trying to explain our side of the argument to a public that already has a negative perception, and an extreme one sometimes. Any good firearm instructor will tell you that those who go armed have an even greater responsibility than your average citizen to avoid letting a situation devolve to where force is the only option. I would submit that the same applies to their rhetoric.
So what am I asking of you? Shut your mouth. Take a minute to think about what you are going to say before you jump into a heated discussion on Facebook. Stick to facts. There are loads of solid, factual articles out there (John Lott jumps to mind as one author) and good studies that you can use to make articulate arguments. Don't hand the anti-Second Amendment crowd any more than they have already. And participate. The Colorado recall was an outstanding example of what can be done by ordinary citizens who are willing to fight for what they believe in. Contact your representatives and let them know what you think (remember, articulate arguments, not angry rhetoric). If your representative does not believe in what you believe, or ignores the voices of his constituents, remove them. There are processes in place for recalls, and elections are held every two years. Support pro-Second Amendment candidates, not a party line, even if they "don't have a chance." Recruit others to vote, educate your friends and families. If you feel led and are willing to bear the consequences, civil disobedience has shown in the past to be an incredibly effective tool.
Maybe it's just the idealist in me, but I believe that we can still win this fight without having to resort to violence. It will not be easy, in fact, it will be extremely hard. It will interfere with your life. It will pull you out of your comfort zone, and it may end some friendships, even when you speak with the best of intentions. It's worth it though. The rights protected (not given) by our Constitution must endure for future generations. Our children deserve no less.
About the Author
Woody is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.