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Guns & Citizenship
Earle Fox's Story
How I was not raised to bear arms.... My family owned guns, that is, my father and all, or almost all, my uncles went hunting and fishing. Some of them had hunting dogs. Being raised in Minnesota during my junior high years, the outdoors was a natural playground, used and enjoyed by many. My brother and I joined the Boy Scouts mostly to go camping, even, or especially, in the winter.
My father had shot guns, a 12 and 20 gauge, plus a 22 rifle. In high school, we lived outside of Philadelphia in Lower Merion Township, which had a large rural area. We were allowed to take the 22 and go plinking in the woods. No one thought that any of us would shoot someone with it.
But there was a problem. My dad treated gun training like he treated sex education. We did not get any. We were supposed to learn it all by osmosis. That was not literally true. He gave us the very bare essentials, like do not point a gun at anyone ever, loaded or not. Or, keep it always pointed down until you are ready to aim at something you want to shoot. But I do not recall him ever impressing upon us an equally important principle: Never put your finger on the trigger until the moment you are ready to pull it. An obvious principle once you hear it said. But we kids used our play cap pistols all the time with our fingers on the trigger. Never a thought that that was poor training for using a real gun. No one every told us. So, like sex, I had to learn about guns "on the street".
I had a friend whose dad worked on an estate out in the country side, and who owned several guns. The friend invited myself and another friend (we were a close trio) to come out and go plinking with his father's guns. I doubt that he asked his father, and remember uneasily wondering whether this was a good idea. Hopefully his father would have first put us through a rigorous safety training. But nothing like that happened.
So, out we went into the woods. Our favorite sport was to set up bottles or other objects and see how far away we could stand and still hit them. We were out one day. I had a pistol in a holster. Probably the first time I had ever used a pistol. Incredibly naive and stupid, but no one had bothered to train me or the other two so far as I know.
At one point, I think we had just crossed over (or under) a wire fence. My pistol, which was not firmly set in the holster, fell out, and went off. By the grace of God, no one was hit. But that event scared me so that I never touched a pistol again for decades. I do now when I can borrow one, and am quite good with a pistol. But the lack of training could have been fatal to one of us.
I was much more at ease with long guns because you pretty much knew where it was pointed all the time. I was on the rifle team of my high school my senior year, and won third place at the annual Southeast PA Rifle Assn. meet. The three top persons each had 19 out of 20 clear bullseyes, and the three 20th bullseyes were so close that you had to look at them with a magnifying glass to see whose was closest to the center dot (the target was 50 feet away, and the center bullseye was the diameter of the 22 bullet). The three bullet holes were hardly a gnat's eyelash difference away from the center dot. But sometimes a gnat's eyelash makes the difference between first and third place.
It was not until I was working with the Minutemen down on the Mexican border, beginning about 2006, to help the Border Patrol spot illegal immigrants coming over the border that I picked up a pistol again. Most of the men and many of the women had side arms. I did not own one, but would have brought it if I had one. I would often borrow one when we went out sighting, or for target practice.
A poorly informed relative chastised me in an email for going out gunning for immigrants. I emailed him back asking from where did he get his information about the Minutemen??? There was not a reckless man or woman among us. And there were no persons anywhere at all on our side of the border who were gunning for anyone. There were regular killings on the other side of the border by the drug cartels. The MM vetted everyone coming on board, and anyone with a bad attitude was quickly dismissed. My relative got his information from the press who were hostile to anyone interfering with immigrants crossing the borders -- the same ones who are hostile to the survival of America as a Biblical nation as given in the Constitution, in particular the 2nd Amendment.
If you want to get the skinny on the reliability of gun owners, click here: Texas' Concealed Handgun Law - 10 Years Later The hard empirical evidence points toward the astonishing reliability of gun owners, not toward their being rabid flakes who settle disputes with guns.
At any rate, we would post ourselves in some hidden place, and watch. And then call in by radio to inform our headquarters of sightings, who then called the Border Patrol. We were told never to confront the immigrants, to always retreat if we ran into them, unless we had enough persons to surround them, have them sit down, and then call for the Border Patrol. When we did, their "coyote" (Mexican guide over the border) would take off like lightning back for the border, leaving them to their fate.
We were not to pull a gun unless physically attacked. It never happened. On occasion, someone might "accidentally" pull his coat aside to reveal a gun, which would quiet down feisty individuals. It was a wonderful testimony to the reliability of the armed Minutemen. The guns were not so much for illegal immigrant situations, but rather for unhappy confrontations with drug runners. They could get very nasty, and it was conceivable that we might run into an unavoidable difficult meeting and be fired upon. There were border patrol agents who were murdered. But the MM never, to my knowledge, had such an incident.
The Border Patrol, who at first were very wary of us, began to respect us and want us to be there, partly because they needed help to cover the vast length of the border, and because they developed a deep respect for us, seeing us sitting out in sometimes freezing weather in our hideouts for hours at a time, sometimes all night long. They roamed around in jeeps. We usually drove to where we would spot, and then sat outside, occasionally ducking into a car to get warm again. They would often stop to thank us for being there.
No doubt some are asking how can I be a Christian and tote a gun? I do not tote one, but would if I had one. Why so? Partly because I think it is irresponsible for grown men to be unprepared to be first responders when crime is being committed, to not take part in their own self-defense, and in the defense of family and the population around them. We should be trained first of all by our fathers, and then by taking courses, or in the military if necessary. Resources are very available.
The terrible current increase of violence is not due to availability of guns. Guns are tools, like hammers or cooking ware, to be used where helpful under the law and grace of God. Guns were like any other normal tool right up into the 1950's. There was never a gun made that seduced anyone into shooting someone else.
The cultural collapse of the 1960's, with official government rejection of God (Engel vs. Vitale in 1962, banning prayer in schools, and others), led to the conditions where guns became tools for evil. We were in rebellion against God, and so lost our moral compass. It is the sinful heart that makes the gun do the job. People kill, not guns. Guns in the hands of Godly people can be righteous weapons.
Furthermore, there is no such thing as a "gunless world". Why? Because it takes guns to remove guns, and that leaves the law abiding citizen gunless, with guns still in the hands of criminals, and in the hands of those who, by a huge margin more than any other persons, have abused people -- (un)civil governments. That is why removing guns from lawful citizens leads to rising crime, not less.
That is what guns and citizenship is about. My road was a bit bumpy at first, mostly because of virtually no training, and thus making at least one nearly lethal mistake. But I survived all that and became a reasonably competent Minuteman, preaching the Gospel (I was their chaplain) while I was defending my country against subversive invasion, working with some of the finest of American citizens.
It was a wonderful monthly event, which I sadly had to give up when I could no longer get away for weekends because I started working in a new arena at St. Luke's Reformed Episcopal Church.
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Date Posted - 02/03/2013 - Date Last Edited - 02/16/2013