“Most civilization is based on cowardice. It’s so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame.” -The Stolen Journals – God Emperor of DUNE
My Dad’s a fighter, and I try and remember to tell him I’m proud of him. For the life he lead after the war, not just during. A Golden Glove boxer, a career soldier and military police officer, he was a true defender of home and family. Tragedy never broke his spirit, he learned to duck and cover and survive, with courage and honesty. Adversity only gave him the life energy that propels him to this day, that I am still fortunate enough to share with him. I hope I can muster the same courage as I proceed in life, to take the sequence of events and luck, combined in a thrall of the forces that Clausewitz calls friction and chance, that pull that defines a life, and with it mold who I am, who I can be.
Because I am definitely his daughter, for good, bad and always; a fighter, a survivor of wars of life’s own making. Like my father and my mother, herself a law enforcement officer, the fight is in my blood. They adopted me late in their life, so the blood that flows is that of what was taught, not that which was carried, even more important as I make my way in a world that grows less safe with each breath.
My parents didn’t differentiate between son or daughter when it came to teaching us the basics to survive, and just like my brother, I was equipped with an immutable sense of who I was and what type of life I wanted and a fairly clear understanding of what would be required to obtain and protect it. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, the will to fight is either there or it isn’t. That is why, like my parents before me, I support the Second Amendment. For it has prepared me for what life may throw my way, horizons that tilt and change, full of challenges.
I have no regrets for this life I lead, no apologies in what I do, have done, to be true to myself, to my family’s legacy, for that is how I was raised. To be someone who knew that to live my life any other way, than what I have, would be to ignore my soul’s natural response to living. I live as I must and I love who I do. To do otherwise might mean growing old in oblivious quiet, but it would be with regret.
That life includes firearms. They are legally obtained and I train to proficiency with them. They are cared for and respected. They are my tools, they are my protection. They are not instruments of death, but only of safety, the flesh and bone that directs them principled by law and order, rather than a calculated violation, their possession inherent with the capacity to maintain the law, not break it.
So today, I ready my bag for a trip to the local range, to practice those skills which enable my independence. Live your life to the fullest and fight for your dreams my Dad always told me. Words I agree with, especially when I traded in a lucrative career for this one, in which I hold true to myself, making small efforts to make the world a safer place. Better a belated and streaming dawn than a life lived in twilight, I say to myself as I look in the mirror, range bag in hand. A bag overstuffed with equipment, paper, stapler, targets, ammo and weaponry. The provisions of someone prepared for life. I look forward to these days, revel in them, if only for a few hours of feeling the strength in my hands, my will in action, striding towards the target after the magazine is empty, a day full of things hinted but not yet seen, life viewed through a haze of smokey freedom.
Today – I am not a soldier. I am not an army. I am simply the Second Amendment, the outdoor ranges and the fields of my world where I am most at home. I know the smell of black powder on a jumbled path across the Rocky Mountains, the convoluted jig of waters that flow through the Cascades that I follow to my campsite. I know the mountains of the West and the deep ache of muscles that carried my hunting gear into God’s country, seeking sustenance, rifle to my shoulder, eyes focused on the source of my strength. I have worshiped at the altar of a sun-stroked morning, prayed into the beauty of a dark velvet night, spun robes of clouds, the candlelight of dawn, the church of the woods in which set up camp. I’ve shared Communion with my God in the sanctity of a stand of trees, my cup a blessing of the bounty of the land, my rifle the power to keep my family fed during times of lean.
I am the Second Amendment. I know the long lines of a gun show and have strolled, walked and ran full tilt, the length of a conference center packed with those like myself. I have politely pushed through an obstacle course of displays at some Big Box Mart for the last remaining box of Winchester White Box, and reveled in the wonder of a small family-owned gun store, shelves full of the unique. I know the value of thrift and the thrift of survival. I know the new gun smell more than the new car smell. I delight in the perfect clarity of fresh bluing and the late night whoosh of a Dillon press in full swing. I look forward to the perfect sky of a morning range and remember as well, the ice-slicked ladder that led up to a blind, from where I sat in wonder and wait, for a single whitetail that would feed both my need and my family.
My Dad’s generation of shooters began with black powder and the eyes of a hawk. Though I have been trained in sniper scopes and all manner of high tech weaponry, we both understand the history of it all, and the responsibility, the complacency that could end our day on an uncorrectable note of finality. His generation, and now mine, speak as if old friends, of the Ruger and the Winchester and the early days of Browning and Colt. We still recall with youthful pride, the rumbling thunder that was our first lever action. We reminisce of the vast landscapes of the open prairie, shotgun in hand, bird dog by our side and that snug little sports car like-feel of that little .40 we bought as our back up.
It is the language of my father’s generation and it is my own. It’s a language handed down from generation to generation and only slightly understood by our non-shooting partners. We banter about bore and brass, half-jacket to hangfire, pattern and parallax. But when it’s time for the shot, the range quiets and the concentration is almost tactile. For though we have tasted the insulation of our armor, we know too well the adrenalin surge of danger. We respect the power of our weapon and we know what it means to fight for grip, for stance, for what we believe in, and that is the uncommon faith in what we can do with our freedoms. We laugh and we joke, but we just as strongly believe in the capriciousness of life, of the indifference of humanity, and that every day brings the chance of facing something yet unseen, and lethal. Something more dangerous than a paper target or small horned animal, that will pit our countenance against a world without safeties.
I am the Second Amendment. I relish the quiet mornings as the sun peeks over the horizon as I make my way to my blind, the beautiful surroundings of a fog-draped landscape below as I climb into it. It’s evocative and inspiring and sometimes, despite the early, early showtime, the beauty of it all reaches out and grabs me. And in spite of the occasional bone weariness of the early hours, the freedom takes hold and shakes me like a playful puppy. I can’t imagine being anyplace else but here in these woods, with my Dad’s old Browning in my lap.
I know the overwhelming beauty of a Plains sky from a small ground blind as the sun seeps into the deep purple horizon and the pristine beauty of the sun’s settling after a long day. I know the sea of waving corn that is my home, the winding roads of a farm deep in pheasant country and the perfect icy stillness that is a winter morning during the first day of whitetail season. I know the bright traces of Orion and the tiny blips of satellites that guide me in the night as I find my way home, my 20 gauge at my side. I’ve felt the incalculable force of a thunderstorm’s rain as I tried to keep my powder dry and the tears that tracked my face, leaving rivulets as if on earth, as we laid a fellow hunter to rest beneath his favorite tree.
I am the Second Amendment. Not to use my weapon to take something I did not earn but to save something that I did. That, for reasoning beyond ego and beyond anything, being something I need; this freedom as an essential element of my being. I am granted this liberty by one that came long before any government, the right granted by God to provide and protect and save. A right I embrace with pride.
Like those that have gone before me, I am strong and driven, law-abiding, yet free. I am fiercely individualist, yet connected with my brothers and sisters in arms, family people at home and in the field. I compete with good spirit, yet bond with courage. I celebrate our successes and mourn our fallen. I am your friend or your neighbor. I am your father, your mother, your sister. I am charged with a reverent responsibility and I never forget it, nor should you.
I am the Second Amendment, as were all of my family, the fight in us strong.