Let me start off by being absolutely clear about where I stand: I love guns. I love their smell. I love their sound. I love the smooth slide of a well-lubricated bolt-action rifle. I love the meditative perfection of feeling my round hit its target, before there’s any rational way that I could possibly know it hit, and yet I do know. When body, mind, sight, and weapon all line up in sync, I know.
Furthermore, I love the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Without the Right to Bear Arms, Freedom of Speech is an empty abstraction. It is the moral duty of every Christian to be prepared to defend the innocent with proportionate force, up to and including lethal force. All who can own a gun should own a gun, it is our duty to be vigilant for threats against ourselves and others. The words of our Lord and Savior state: “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”
Gun control is a false promise, pushed by cowards and conniving elites: security without responsibility. It is a lie believed by fools and those who blind their eyes to the truth that evil exists in the world, and that good men must be prepared to combat it.
But with this established, let us not fall into the same intellectual trap as the gun grabbers: mistaking the object for the intent. The root cause of mass shootings is never a gun. The gun is only the means. Similarly, with every righteous use of a firearm, the firearm is incidental to the heroic intent.
The gun is an excellent tool, but before you master it, you must learn to master yourself.
During my seven years in the army, my primary weapon was the C7A1 Service Rifle; an AR-15 variant, nearly identical to the M16A1 model then used by the American military. It is notorious for being one of the more difficult battle rifles to operate. Unlike the AK-47, which can be left buried in the mud for five years, tossed into the hands of an illiterate 15-year-old peasant, and then employed effectively, the AR-15 is prone to jamming if it isn’t maintained correctly.
And yet, if you give me a week and a truck full of ammo, I can give you a squad of well-trained marksman who’ll be able to implement the weapon in a variety of climates and conditions. The rifle might be complex, but it’s not that complex.
What I can’t give you is a squad of soldiers. They’ll still be a group of young idiots with chips on their shoulders. It takes a lot longer to train young men to the point where they’re battle-ready, than it takes to train them in the usage of a particular weapon. The core values of discipline, courage, and restraint require more than a week-long course.
Wax On, Wax Off
The 1984 film Karate Kid follows the life of a teenager named Daniel LaRusso. He’s the son of a single mother who’s being bullied at school. He approaches his neighbor Mr Miyagi, a wise old Karate Sensei, and asks that he teaches him how to fight. Rather than granting his request, Miyagi puts him through a series of chores to prove his worth. It is only after mastering these chores that LaRusso learns he was studying Karate the entire time. The motions behind “Wax On, Wax Off” are the same skills he needs to block another man’s punch.
More to the point, he was learning discipline and commitment. Like all young men, he was full of piss and vinegar, and he had an intuitive sense that an injustice was occurring. What he lacked was the restraint to respond appropriately and proportionately to his situation. Learning to fight was the outward manifestation of his spiritual growth, but it was the internal transformation which made him into a warrior.
God Created Men and Sam Colt Made Them Equal!
The great thing about the gun is that it’s just as dangerous in the hands of Bruno the Bodybuilder as it is in the hands of Beatrice the Church Lady. The problem with it is that it can be mistaken for a short-cut to developing the warrior spirit.
Teaching young soldiers how to use guns – even a relatively complex one like the AR-15 – is the easy part of Basic Training. Teaching them how to discipline themselves and restrain their heroic impulses is the hard part.
There are no short cuts in developing yourself as a man. Mental ruggedness, fortitude, restraint, and guts are all qualities that have to be earned, and buying a piece of hardware won’t bestow them upon you. While it’s your responsibility to own a gun if possible, it’s also your responsibility to be mentally prepared. I’ll take an unarmed, grizzled vet over three young punks with pistols any day, because the vet understands that that the knives and guns are just tools; he is the weapon.
Until you’ve developed that same nature inside of yourself, you should be extremely cautious when handling your firearm. Without proper mental care, the gun will provide an unwarranted boost to your ego, turning you into a loose cannon, rolling about the deck and injuring your allies. Once you have developed that nature, you’ll realize the gun isn’t truly necessary. It’s just an implement – what matters is your intent and will.
The gun can be used to implement your best qualities, or it can be a catalyst which brings out your worst. Always be mindful that you stay in the driver’s seat. Young men have incredible potential to do great good, or great evil. Make sure you become an embodiment of the first.
The true warrior understands that it’s almost never the right time to fight; that fighting is deadly, and that all victories come at a great cost. He fights not for the sake of anger, but for love; not with ego, but with humbleness. From a place of confidence, not braggadocio.
He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.