To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail. To a man (or a woman, or a 9 year old girl) with a gun, everyone is a potential enemy.
Being a gun owner myself, I know the seductive pleasure of holding something that can kill whatever-it-is (other than someone armed with a longer-range firearm) before it kills you. Before anything (you think) can hurt you. Before it touches you. Holding a firearm you know how to use fills the chest with a sense of power. BLAM. Targets on a range acquire holes. Bark leaps off trees. Glass shatters. Tin cans dance. Birds fall. Deer fall. A .22 makes killing the sheep you're going to process for the freezer a one-shot job. Know the right spot in the skull, and BLAM it's done. A 9mm takes down a 2000+ pound bull just fine, same way. BLAM. (Big bulls kick longer and harder. Just sayin'.) If you are of that mind (and not all gun owners or hunters are) you imagine the "bad guy" meeting your bullet and his/her gun falling from his/her hand, and you alive, senses tingling with adrenalin rush. BLAM. You got the drop on him/her. You got the shot. You won.
When I was a child, right after WWII and overlapping the Korean War, children playing war games were common. Not just boys, either. We dug (much too shallow) foxholes and trenches in vacant lots. We pretended to shoot each other, pretended to be the one shot but with one last dirt-clod grenade to throw at the enemy. We were dramatic about it, too, using all the movie moves we'd seen to indicate "really dead" or "only partly dead." We did not have much clue about the reality, our parents and their friends carefully not talking about it in front of the children. But the theory, and the mythology, we had down pat.
What we did not have at all were real weapons, until about age ten, when boys and the rare girl were allowed to learn to use the family varmint rifle. (Invariably, in those days, a single-shot .22, most commonly bolt-action. Heavy, with a dark, well-used walnut stock that might have an uncle's or grandfather's initials carved into it.) Some kids (I was one) had a Daisy BB gun before that--known to be dangerous to eyes and windows, but a way to tell if this particular kid, at eleven or twelve, was ready for graduation to the family .22. Farm kids learned earlier than city kids--they had places to shoot that didn't involve neighboring houses, people, and pets.
The real weapons--the varmint rifles, the deer rifles (then also mostly single-shot, because "real hunters don't need automatics"), the "bird guns" (shotguns) and the handguns were all for adults only. Touching an adult's firearm without permission led to a thrashing, no question about it, in every family I knew. You might get away with other misconduct, but not sneaking in to handle a firearm. I was forbidden to open the drawer my mother kept her target pistol in, or rummage for sewing supplies under the bed, where the Smith & Wesson .38 revolver was. And I didn't.
Many of us came from families that camped out (the old way--no camping trailers) and hiked and so on. We learned basic survival skills for the area in which we lived: how to set up a camp, dig a latrine (however small), recognize edible plants, find water if any was around (it was a dry country, so often it was "better carry a lot, because it's a long walk to the next well and cactus juice will give you the runs.") We knew not to sleep in arroyos (flash floods) and recognition of and response to all the dangerous critters, from rattlesnakes to feral cattle. Some of what we were told turned out to be more myth than reality (the murderous nature of the collared peccary, for instance--stories of being trampled to bloody ribbons by herds of furious javelinas mistook these animals for feral hogs), but quite a lot was useful.
None of this involved handing children loaded assault weapons and having them practice military patrol form in the guise of "survival" and "defending the Constitution." That's not survival training. That's training little kids for war. Little kids playing war games is one thing. Adults teaching children to handle or use military weapons--teaching children that they must someday use those weapons against fellow citizens--that is not about survival. That is about preparing children to kill in a civil war. EXACTLY what terrorists have done in country after country. That is about dishonest, disloyal, intention to subvert the legally elected government, about planning to force the majority of the citizenry to live under the militia's rules...which are, unfortunately, all too often rules the old Confederacy would like, in which white men control everything because there are no laws, and no law enforcement, to keep them from their tyranny.
I have long said, and still believe, that if these self-styled militias and survivalists (misnamed) get the war they so obviously want--if they manage to destroy civil society along with this nation--the only real survivors will be old women with the skills to survive (the hundreds of skills "survivalists" with their concentration on guns and ammo and fancy camo outfits do not even know exist) and to protect children from stray bullets, meanwhile keeping them fed and clothed and sheltered until things quiet down. If they ever do. The survivalists will run out of fancy gear and camo clothes and freeze-dried food and will have killed all the game they know how to shoot and eat. But the very last one will, with his last lying breath, claim he was defending the Constitution and liberty...and he will be wrong, as they are wrong now.
When a cute 9 year old grows up surrounded by adults who fully believe that Guns Are The Answer....that a person of color in the White House is evil....and that having and using guns is the answer to whatever you don't like about law, order, rules, government....more massacres are on the way. When little Brianna (or any of the other kids in that group) gets mad at some perceived unfairness from her parents, or her teacher, or some other kids in the class, when the hormones and impulsivity meet in adolescence, and takes Dad's loaded weapon to school and kills 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 of her classmates...will the North Florida Survival Group accept responsibility for what it created? Hell, no, they won't. They'll make the same lame excuses they make now for their obsession with guns and killing, and their paranoia about the government and people of color and anyone who disagrees with them.
It is people like this who create the countering fear of all guns. People like this who make it harder for responsible gun owners to convince neighbors they're safe to live alongside, who increase the cost of gun ownership and create ridiculous shortages of ammunition by having panic attacks and mobbing gun stores and gun shows. (Thanks SO much, guys, for making it harder for me to buy ammunition.) Sneaking around in the woods in camo pretending to stalk enemies that are, in fact, one's fellow citizens is clearly behavior that causes alarm among those fellow citizens. Labeling those who don't agree with you as "Communists" or "sheep" or "shills" is a way to alienate, not convince these citizens, and so is making it so very, very clear that your main objection to President Obama is the color of his skin. It should be obvious to the North Florida Survival Group that this will happen...that they themselves and others like them have created and are creating the environment they don't like. But it's not, because they're blinded by the certainty that paranoia induces...the certainty that they're right, everyone else is wrong, and thus everyone else is probably their enemy.
Real survival training is not about being determined to start a war and kill your neighbors because they voted for someone you don't like and support rules that constrain your (obviously very dangerous) behavior. Survival training is about learning the skills (not the kills) that will keep you (and your family, if you have one) alive, healthy, and able to contribute to the welfare of the community that sustains you....and in a world that is rapidly changing, both physically and socially. Starting with the simple natural challenge--the storm that knocks out power, the earthquake, the flood--and going on to survival in larger disasters of all kinds--real survival training teaches not just how to dig a latrine or purify water or grow a garden--but how to cooperate in groups to get these and other necessary things done--how to conserve the human resources left after something goes haywire, not shoot someone for being the wrong color or voting for the wrong person. A firearm is a handy tool for a few of the tasks that may show up in a life lived long and well in a difficult world. It is not however the One Big Thing. It's lousy for digging post holes, no good for cutting down trees, useless for digging, planting, working a garden, and while you could (but I don't recommend it) wedge a rifle barrel in a gap between branches and use it to hold one end of a lap-loom for weaving, another branch would be better. Even with the current scourge of wild hogs in our area, if they became a necessary source of food for the population they annoy, they'd be gone in a year. ..and without game to shoot, a firearm isn't a tool for providing food. Or water. Or anything else you really need. (Oh, sure, you can become a bandit and hold people up for whatever food, water, clothing, and shelter they have. But trying to justify that as "defending the Constitution" is downright silly, and either you'll run out of ammo or you'll run into a better shooter eventually. Including the old guy who used to be in the SCA and still has a crossbow with some broadhead bolts.)
I know that nothing I say will convince the True Believers in the various militias and the NRA...True Believers have drunk the paranoid poison. But I say what I say about gun control and these so-called militia/survival groups to let the world know that not everyone with firearms in the house is like that. I don't daydream about shooting my neighbors (even the ones who probably dream about shooting me) or the FBI, or my idiot legislators (whom I didn't vote for and think are arrogant, ignorant, greedy, power-mad pissants, to be plain about it. Tell them so, yes. Shoot them, no. Not worth the paperwork and the waste of a perfectly good bullet that might be used on a rabid raccoon lurching across the yard in broad daylight.) I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution more than once--as Marine Corps officer, as an elected official--and in my understanding of both the Constitution and the real meaning of the oath, it did not mean defending the right to use guns to train people to overthrow the government of the United States. We've had a Civil War. I would rather not see another one. If, however, it comes, my loyalty is to the Constitution in its entirety and the government which it set up.
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