On the day that President Donald Trump addressed the NRA in Atlanta, the first president to do so since President Ronald Reagan, I wanted to share my thoughts about the Second Amendment — and why so many of us stand so fervently behind it.
Freedom is what makes our country great. These freedoms are identified in our Bill of Rights. They are referenced in the Declaration of Independence. For those who need a refresher: “That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Let the anti-gunners make fools of themselves.
One of the most discussed and argued-over rights is identified by the Second Amendment. Most of us are familiar with it, but again here’s a refresher: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Those who believe the Second Amendment means what it says have a responsibility.
I have been a firm supporter of the Second Amendment for most of my life. I became active in my support in the mid 2000s. I am a realist. I do not believe my articles or online discussions will sway the true gun-control believers. I have spent many wasted hours arguing with these people, but my focus now is educating and enlightening people who do not get exposure to the Second Amendment viewpoint.
A few weeks ago, some of my wife’s family came to stay with us for a few days. Not one of the five people had ever fired a gun. The family members were my wife’s first cousin, the cousin’s three children (all age 17 and below), and my wife’s aunt. All they know about firearms is what they’ve seen in the national news and in their local Philadelphia media. From a previous cousin’s visit, they knew we would be more than happy to take them to a firing range.
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The day before we went to a local gun shop and shooting facility, we had a very frank discussion about why I’ve actively promoted gun rights. I explained I had started my Twitter page (@The2ndA) and Facebook group (2ndAmendmentUSA) to share the stories of SDGU (Self-Defense Gun Usage). I explained how these stories were prevalent but somehow ignored by most major news outlets. Local news agencies cover the biggest events in their areas, and I wanted to consolidate these occurrences to make them easy for people to find.
Then I brought out the handguns and rifles we would use the next day. We discussed their function and capabilities. Of course, the first thing they said when I placed my AR-15 on the counter was, “That’s an assault rifle, right?” I explained that the true reason for the “AR” in the name AR-15 is the company Armalite, which invented that style of weapon. Contrary to the misrepresentation from the media, the anti-gun community and the primarily Democratic politicians who are against guns, “AR” does not stand for “assault rifle.” Sadly, the uninformed and misinformed public has come to accept that incorrect definition.
On the day of the trip to the gun range, the first thing we did was discuss firearm handling safety. I let our family members know that, even though I am an amateur comedian (in my own mind), they will never see me as serious as when firearm training is occurring. My wife and I were the primary firearm handlers; we coached each individual during his or her turn to fire the weapon. Our supervision was intense, and we stayed focused on these novice shooters.
The event went safely — and it was enjoyable for all but one. It was the children’s mother, who shot only two bullets and then withdrew from the experience.
I considered that day extremely successful, since we returned home with five people who had a whole new outlook on the role of firearms in society. I have no doubt the children now have a respect and understanding of the capability of a firearm in the hands of good people. I hope they, too, will join the gun community at some point in the future.
That should be the goal of every Second Amendment supporter and firearm owner.
I heard a theory some time ago that the clear majority of Americans only concern themselves with a few specific political interests. I’ve seen it presented as both the “90-5-5” rule and the “80-10-10” rule. Basically, it means that given a specific political topic, 5 percent of the people are very much for it, 5 percent are very much opposed to it, and the other 90 percent are relatively indifferent — but can be swayed by prevailing public opinion.
I now believe this is a very accurate theory. When it comes to gun control and gun rights, there is a hardcore group of people who believe civilians should not have guns. There is also a hardcore group of people who believe every American should have every type of gun that he or she wants.
As proponents of the Second Amendment, we have a major responsibility to spread the word about this wonderful freedom.
The clear majority of our U.S. population falls somewhere in between. To me, that is the most important reason for us Second Amendment supporters to reach out to those who do not have a dog in the fight.
First and foremost, we must be safe and responsible with our firearms. We must police the gun community and prevent unsafe or irresponsible acts. We must educate people about incidents in which the good guys with guns defend innocent lives. We must provide good examples — while setting good examples.
We cannot stoop to screaming and name-calling when people disagree with us. Let the anti-gunners make fools of themselves.
Some amazing things have happened in the past 20 or so years that the media have largely ignored. Firearm sales have steadily risen, with monthly records being broken time and time again during the Obama administration. During the same time, with increasing numbers of guns on the streets, firearm homicides have continuously gone down. During the same era, opposition to gun control has increased, along with support for pro-Second Amendment political candidates.
These occurrences on their own are definitely a good thing. When combined, however, it shows that most of our community has been doing the right thing. We need to continue to do such and spread the word to others to keep it up.
Like it or not, as proponents of the Second Amendment, we have a major responsibility to spread the word about this wonderful freedom.
John Cylc is an eight-year U.S. Army veteran and lives with his family in eastern Tennessee. His primary advocacy is promoting and protecting Second Amendment rights.