by Stan Pate
Ordinary citizens need to become involved in the political process to ensure we keep the freedoms that others have sacrificed so much to give us. The lessons of England provide a frightening example of what can happen if we let others decide our future.
I find myself these days often sitting and pondering the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our inalienable rights granted to us by our God. As someone who enjoys history, I’ve read a great deal about the struggles, pain, and sacrifices that so many have endured to give this freedom to us all. For many of us, it is a freedom that we don’t fully appreciate and understand. A freedom that so many are voting away today in the interest of “perceived” security. I call it perceived security because as a former police officer I was to arrive so many times just in time to do the paperwork and to start the investigation on the crime scene. Rarely was I there in time to have an effect on saving the victim from being a victim. I was also given firsthand knowledge of how the “common” citizen can adequately defend themselves, given a proper attitude and the ability to do so. This resulted in several arrests both by myself and other officers when an armed citizen stopped a crime and we were called.
The State Will Protect and Take Care of Us
More and more Americans are looking to the “State” to protect us, take care of us, to be our father and mother throughout our entire lives. This seems to have escalated in this new era of terrorism – much of which seems to be directed at America. The September 11th attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 brought global terror to our door, shaking so many of us out of our stupor. We began to see that there were dangers out there that we’d chosen to ignore.
In this “new era” one would think that Americans would gather around each other and look out for each other. Many are, but so many seem to still be asleep, content that the state will protect us if we will only give up that next freedom to the state. Then the state will have that one more tool that will allow them “to look out for our best interests”.
Freedoms We Take for Granted
Some of the things that we enjoy here in America are the freedom to come and go as we please, believe things as we please, speak our minds as we feel, and to vote our representatives into or out of office – in short, to control our future.
Will we still have all these freedoms in the future, or are they slowly slipping away from us as they have in other “free” countries? We don’t have to look far to see a few possible futures for America if we just cave in and go with the flow as so many are encouraging us to do. Our freedoms have already eroded since this country was formed a relatively short time ago, in historical terms. It has been said that it is the job of a government to govern while it is the job of a free people to limit the government in order to remain free.
Lessons from Other Countries
For the last several years I’ve had the honor and privilege of representing this great country and its people in international competitions in several foreign countries around the globe as a member of the U.S. Rifle Team. It has been with my involvement shooting on the international scene that I’ve gained a perspective that I didn’t have before. A perspective on the path and the steps that a country takes in steadily losing its freedoms. I’ve gained this insight from those awesome competitors I now call friends. I have gained so much from friendly conversations with those foreign competitors who admonish us as Americans to not do what was done in their country. They hold us as the keepers of freedom today. If America falls, the rest fall. This was to become a resounding theme in so many conversations with foreign competitors: “Be careful Yank, your country is the last great hope for the rest of the world, if you lose your freedoms then the rest of us don’t stand a chance. “
Lessons from the United Kingdom
My first time traveling to the United Kingdom was so exciting for me, I was going there to represent the U.S. as one of the members of the U.S. Team at the World Championships, at the world famous range known as Bisley. Traveling to England wasn’t like traveling to someplace where you really needed to learn a foreign language before going. We spoke the same language and we were related in history to each other. American society was founded in England – it was almost like going back to visit our roots. It was during the five and a half hours that it took the team to work its way thru the very polite and courteous customs inspection that I realized that things were indeed much different in the U.K. in some very important ways.
Firearms are extremely controlled in the U.K. today. You can still own them but you have to fill out an enormous amount of paperwork, spend a great deal of money, and be prepared to open up your entire life to the government. Firearms ownership used to be very similar to how it currently is in America. If you wanted a rifle, shotgun, or handgun you simply purchased it if you could afford it. As in America, the U.K. enjoyed a rich hunting tradition both on their island in Europe and in Africa. There were shooting competitions of many kinds encompassing all types of firearms. Today you can’t own a handgun. Rarely can you own a pump action or semi auto shotgun or rifle. How did this happen and could it happen to us here in the land of the free and home of the brave?
More Laws Are Not the Answer
There are those who are screaming for more and stronger laws in my state in order to make our people safe. Folks, we already have enough laws to prosecute criminals if they would only be used. It is interesting that when they are used and the criminals are convicted, the criminals are then released early due to prison overcrowding! Would more laws really make anyone safer? History has already shown that it is only the law abiding citizens who obey the law; criminals, as the name applies, really don’t care. It just makes them more dangerous to apprehend.
Restricting Gun Rights Resulted in More Crime in England and Australia
What is the progression of a government controlling guns?
- First was something “for the good of the security of the people” you need to turn in your privately owned machine guns, they aren’t good for anything but hurting innocent people anyway. We aren’t interested in any of your other firearms, just those evil machine guns.
- Next after a relatively short interval or after a very public tragic event, we now see that we need to have you turn in your evil semi-autos because they hold too many bullets and shoot so fast, if they aren’t available then events such as this couldn’t happen. We’re not interested in your pump actions or lever actions, or even you revolver pistols, just those nasty semi-auto firearms.
- Then in the now established pattern or after another tragic event, it is now apparent that we must relieve our society of all of those nasty handguns. They aren’t good for anything except giving criminal the power to hurt or rob our good citizens.
- We also need to relieve society of the dangers of the massive firepower of pump and lever action firearms.
This was the general pattern used in both England and Australia. In both cases, if you were to look at the numbers you would find that the effect upon society by the confiscation of all firearms was the exact opposite of what was promised. Violent crime in both of those countries has risen to new heights – while the law abiding citizen is virtually not allowed to defend themselves from those criminal elements that are still using firearms and other weapons to perpetuate violent acts upon them.
In England, the Slippery Slope Got Much, Much Worse
For anyone who thinks that things would or even could stop there, then we only have to look just a little closer at England. Let’s look at what happened in that great country after firearms were all but banned. People were still being murdered – but now they were being killed with hunting knives, so hunting knives were banned in the interest of public safety. People were still being killed, now by bats used in sporting events, so baseball and cricket bats, while not banned outright, are extremely controlled. You must be able to prove that you’re on your way to compete in a sporting event or practice if you have one of these “potential weapons” in your vehicle. This is done “for the good of the public”. Amazingly, people were still being killed! But now by lock-blade pocket knives. Today it can get you serious jail time if you are found carrying a lock-blade pocket knife of any size! This includes multi-tools from various manufacturers. While we were over in England competing we were told that there was a bill before the governing body that would require the tips of all kitchen knives to have rounded points. Know why? Because people were still being killed and injured! Do you see the pattern here? You give an inch, and then someone is willing and ready to take you the extra mile.
It Couldn’t Happen Here?
There is the temptation for us proud Americans to voice the opinion that such things couldn’t happen here; not in this country. But let’s look at where we are now in comparison to those “other” counties. When I was a young kid I can remember my older brother taking me to the local hardware store where he purchased me my first hunting rifle out of a barrel for under $50. I was ten years old and this was my second rifle – my first I’d received a couple of years earlier. As a high school student I can remember having a rifle in the gun rack in the back window of my truck. By the way – so did the Principal of the school. I can remember taking a rifle or shotgun to school on the school bus so that I could hunt on the way home from school. Yes, I had ammunition and a hunting knife in my backpack and those things were kept locked up in my wall locker – the rifle or shotgun was left in the Principal’s office during school hours.
In the interest of a comparison we can see that we’ve for the most part already traversed thru the evil machine gun stage even though our 2nd Amendment gives us the unfettered right of gun ownership – it doesn’t say except for one type or another of firearms. We’ve had repeated attacks and even limitations put on our semi-automatic rifles and pistols focusing on magazine capacities, stocks, and muzzle brakes. In some places today these characteristics are controlled or outright banned. Look at what California requires today. California has enacted a firearms registration law. We have now, and have had, Presidents who have done everything that they could to get rid of at least the semi-automatic rifles in the interest of public safety. One of the arguments has been that they had no legitimate sporting purpose; they were weapons of war. The Second Amendment never once mentions anything about hunting. The Second Amendment is specifically directed towards the American public and its ability to defend itself from aggression and from its own government.
The Road Ahead – Now Is the Time to Get Involved
We are in an era of real danger in this country – the examples and progression are plain to see. No matter whether you choose to own a firearm or not, whether you choose to hunt or not, and whether you’re a person who’d actively defend your own life or not – our Second Amendment rights are under threat. The American Citizen needs to decide to get involved. I’m talking about the person who has no interest in politics, no interest in being in the spotlight, the person who doesn’t trust those that somehow got elected to positions of power. That person needs to decide to send emails and make phone calls to their elected officials. If we do not take an active role in protecting those rights that were earned with such suffering and difficulty, and then were so freely given to us, we will lose them. History in other countries is clear as to how the rights of a people can be so willingly stripped away – leaving only a ruled and controlled population with the government absolutely in charge. Yes, it can happen here.
There is hope – a glimmer that is just now coming to light. In Canada, our close neighbor and close friend, the course of gun control is taking a turn for freedom and common sense. Canada has been on the path of the U.K. – finally arriving at a point where there was gun registration on all firearms. Within the last few weeks a vote was taken to stop all “long gun” (rifles and shotguns) registration and it looks like the bill will pass! While this is a ways from complete freedom, it is still a tremendous step in the right direction.
In America we have moved quite a ways down the road of government ownership of our day-to-day lives. This isn’t only related to the 2nd Amendment rights. History in our school system is being either changed or ignored, health care is now being forced upon us “for our own good”, and the government is increasingly in control of how or if we can discipline our own children. We are continuously being more closely monitored in the interest of national security and, of course, for our own safety. We can also now apparently be held indefinitely without a trial if we are accused of being a terrorist. Times are getting scary and there is nobody but us to straighten things out.
Now is the time to become involved in our political process to influence our elected officials. To ensure that we have a government that represents us – not a government that controls us. When the citizens control the government, and not the other way around, then we are honoring the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us this freedom.
Stan Pate is a former active duty Marine, a former police officer, and a competitive shooter who represents rifle companies as well as assorted equipment companies. He competes in international competitions representing his sponsors and has spent the last five years shooting around the globe as a member of the U.S. F-T/R Rifle Team, winning medals and being an ambassador for our country.
Stan is currently the President of the Oregon State Shooting Association, the Vice Chairman of the Oregon State Range Association, and sits on the Range Advisory Board for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.