Tag: guns

What an NRA rifle range instructor taught me

The slander of the NRA bothers me greatly for a number of reasons. The biggest is the false motives assigned to them. The summer camp I attended had NRA certified instructors man the rifle range. As a boy I loved guns and all things explosive. But from them and other NRA friends I learned more than that.

First and foremost I learned responsibility. This started with the golden rule of marksmanship: Treat every gun as if it’s loaded. This was about not only your safety but the safety of others. It also carried into you’re responsible for what happens when you pull the trigger.

Second, I learned the value of life. One, the value of my own and being aware of what I was doing. Second those around me in conducting myself in such a way that does not put them in danger. Third, care for animals should I choose to hunt. What stood out was the discussion of tracking an animal if you don’t drop it so it does not suffer. Guns were not the Holly Wood Rambo fantasies we have, but a supreme respect for life in all forms.

Third, I learned to respect process. At the range it was about safety, but in other areas of life it became about not forgetting what is important. The purpose of having a process in place is to make sure important things don’t get missed or easily avoidable trouble does not happen. This lesson played out in other areas of my life.

Fourth, excellence matters. It matters in how we aim. It matters in how we operate the weapon. It matters how we care for things. When we stop seeking excellence negative consequences can happen. This moves beyond responsibility to proficiency. Can you be counted on to do the job right and help others. This relates to work ethic and charter. Bulls eyes are not the only place where we need to show excellence.

Fifth, the solemnity of freedom. Freedom comes with a price. While guns are fun to shoot, there is a solemnity to them. This goes beyond my camp instructors to other NRA members I’ve interacted with. Truly, it’s not about the gun. If anything, it is about cherishing that which is most important., the people we love, our neighbors, and our community. A phrase I heard and hear often is “God forbid if you ever have to shoot in defense.” Evil and tyranny are very real and present dangers that each generation must contend with.

What I learned from my NRA friends and instructors was more than just about a gun. Do they love guns, sure. But I learned more about respect for life, liberty and property from them than anything else except the Bible. These were men who deeply loved their families and their country. They were and are honorable men of whom we could use more not less of.

More guns, more play

  The latest news of squirt guns being unkind, of nerf darts causing near expulsion, then reduced to 5 days suspension, is beyond ludicrous. It is plain stupid. Two things boys need: more guns and more play. Period.

 It’s called sparing. It’s boys being boys. They wrestle, the fight, they like to blow things up. It’s cool. It’s amazing. It is how they learn justice, empathy, problem solving, values, fun, relationships, reading, math, resiliency, processing anger, and most importantly, how to be a great dad. Less guns and less play robs boys of their education. Less guns and less play dehumanizes boys.

Guns are a tool. Through a gun one learns respect, how to think, the value of life, the importance of justice, and how to be friends. Growing up guns move from toys to the real thing. They move from carefree playing to cautios respect, for each gun is to be treated as if it’s loaded. Tales of fighting bad guys become parental heart wrenching stories of our boys in the military, law enforcement, or defending our grandkids. A mere toy becomes a means to provide food for their family, bonding with other men, and relationships with our grandchildren.

Play is a canvas. Through Imagination and sheer stupidity of boyhood, play paints radiant pictures of failure to victory, from curiosity to mad scientist. Through play life happens and learning takes root. Play unlocks the doors of once bullies becoming best friends. Boys do stupid things. They’re naive. Play is a critical part of whether they will choose become a fool or wise. With less guns and less play, sadly the choice of foolishness is increasing. I am not saying that because boys do stupid things it’s therefore ok. We learn from our mistakes. Rob boys of failure and you ultimately rob them of success. Play opens the door of adventure.

It is not a crime to be a boy. The crime is not letting boys be boys. The crime is not teaching boys when they fail and do stupid things. The crime is we’re robbing boys of their success and their humanity.

Boys, Pencils and Guns

IMG_3353By today’s standards, I’d have life at Gitmo. Why? In school I had the gall to make a thermo nuclear detonator (based on the Martian’s design from bugs bunny), stolen from an encoded data disk (a He-man shield from BK). What was my dad thinking!? I could have grown up into a terrorist bent on trying to take over the world (Pinky and the Brain)! How could a West Point graduate allow his son to be so violent?

Rule #1 Use your imagination
In the heart of a boy is the desire to spar. Included in this is a heart of justice, honor and FUN! I played cops and robbers. I played army (hoo-rah!). It was pretty simple: good guys won (always barely, but sometimes by epic proportions that make Lord of the Rings seem like a cartoon) and the bad guys always lost (but seemingly were able to come back and fight again).

Rule #2 Guns kill and life is precious
I was never allowed to point a gun at a person. By gun I mean any veneration of such. When older, dad reluctantly allowed me to play lazer tag. Why? Because guns kill people and life is precious. I was not allowed to let my sisters be bad guys. And all black-ops sniper missions against said sisters were promptly aborted (those pesky West Point Grads). In playing with guns I was taught respect for the weapon and for life. By gun it didn’t matter if it was a toy, a gun was a gun.

Rule #3 A man’s job is to defend against evil & injustice
Call it old school, but I was taught there was evil and we need people willing to stand against evil. I was also told that is a man’s job, the honorable thing to do, and the harder choice. This lead to a profound respect for those serving in the military, law enforcement, emergency responders, and those who proclaim freedom. Why? Because there is evil out there and there is such a thing call tyranny. Learning about this starts in childhood. A gun-pencil boy today may be a police officer defending you tomorrow.

Rule #4 Teach boys how to play with guns
Rather than scold boys for turning pencils into guns, teach them to point guns at tyrants, despots and murders, or targets, deer, wolves, zombies and storm troopers. Teach them that life is precious. Teach them that all guns are dangerous and should be treated as they’re loaded. Teach them to not point guns at people (especially mom). Cheer them on as they vanquish evil, rescue those trapped by tyrants or save you from T-Rex! (Tip: Boys, should your gun fly out of your hand and shatter a window, saying you’re fighting against bad guys won’t work. You’ll pay to replace said window.)

The bottom line:
Take a boy’s gun away and you send him to the darkside. He’ll either learn to despise authority and be like Vader or he’ll lose the soul of what it is to be a boy growing up into a man. Anything can be a gun. Why? Cause boys like to spar. Boys like to problem solve. And, boys need to learn to defend justice and protect the innocent. When a boy picks something up and it magically becomes a gun, he is asking to learn about honor and justice. Don’t take his gun away, answer his question!