Preserving the American Heritage
An Essay by Steve Sargent
August, 2001

A scant year ago, there were nothing but storm clouds on the horizon for American gun owners. We had just weathered eight years of the most anti-gun administration in the history of the United States, and the four preceding those had not been much better. The Bill of Rights was held in about the same regard as toilet paper by some of these people.

So how did we survive? By the skin of our teeth, and the fact that those of us who were mad about these things, were really mad. We became activists, and we brought every conceivable resource to the battle; we made sacrifices of our time and money. Many of us went "out on a limb" professionally, and took the politically incorrect position that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual one- and that our government is clearly prohibited from infringing upon that right. But there was something else we had done about 15 years prior to the 2000 election, and I believe that it had a more profound effect on it than any other factor. It was never mentioned during the endless hours of political commentary in the months preceding the election, and it has been barely acknowledged since.

Along about 1985, some of us had children who were at that wonderful age where they still see their parents as the most important people in the world. This is the age where children really want to please their parents, and do many of the same things that their parents do. This is the age to teach them absolutes of right and wrong. They are beginning to respond to the consistent training they receive, and show some real responsibility. They have not yet been "programmed" by the public school system, nor corrupted by negative influences which they would never have received at home.<BR>

So, what monumental event took place in the 1980s, that literally saved our freedom last November? We taught those kids to shoot, that's what. We taught them the safe and responsible use of firearms, and then we bought them their own guns. We made them gun owners. We took them hunting, and we supervised them carefully. We proved, by example, that decent people with guns are no threat to anyone. We educated them to the fact that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual, inalienable right. We taught them that this freedom was purchased with the blood of patriots who, just like ourselves, wouldn't really want to leave their wives and children to go die at Lexington, or Gettysburg, Normandy- but they answered a higher calling, so that generations yet unborn could taste precious freedom. 

Later, we began to hear from these children about classroom discussions on the subject of gun control. We understood their shock and disbelief at the fact that some people thought their guns should be banned. We explained that "morally correct" and "politically correct" positions are frequently 180 degrees apart, and we proudly encouraged them to stand up for their beliefs. We comforted them when that courage resulted in unwarranted ridicule from uninformed classmates, or "educators" with a political agenda and a captive audience.

And we reminded them again of the sacrifices of the patriots, and explained that it is an honor to sacrifice for such a worthy cause. 

We continued this process during the intervening years, and it continues to this very day. We have also occasionally been honored with the privilege of bringing other new shooters into the fold. Despite the best efforts of the taxpayer-funded and news media-supported indoctrination machine, these children have held fast to their beliefs. They have now grown into fine young adults. Not long before the 2000 elections, three of those children became registered voters. One of our sons married two months before the election, and he immediately began teaching his new bride to shoot. I didn't have to ask any of them to vote for a particular candidate. They had already voiced their opinions, and it was apparent that they recognized Gore for what he was. Freedom was more important to them than hollow promises, made by someone who claimed to have invented the internet.

The math behind all this is easy enough. In 1992, our household fielded two hard-line, single-issue, pro-second amendment votes. In less than ten years, that number went to six, for an increase of 300%. Do you know what any major corporation would give to increase their support base by 300%? Three new households have also blossomed, and someday there will be even more new family members. Wanna guess what they're going to be taught about the right to keep and bear arms? 

We have no doubt that our individual rights are inalienable ones, and that they existed long before that historic meeting of pen and parchment which resulted in our Declaration of Independence- and Bill of Rights. We require no talking-head politicians to confirm this fact for us. But the vitality with which we may enjoy those rights is most assuredly affected by those who are in power- and the stark contrast between Clinton's recent "Just us" Department and example currently being set by John Ashcroft, should be proof enough for anyone. 

Politics is a game of numbers, and our continued freedom desperately depends upon the ongoing effort to keep those numbers in our favor. I encourage you to join the NRA, but this is much more important than simple NRA membership. I encourage you to support those firearms manufacturers who support our freedom, but this is much more important than whether any particular manufacturer stays in business. 

Not too many years ago, no sane politician would have suggested that individual citizens do not possess the right to keep and bear arms. Regardless of the NRA membership numbers at that time, the vast majority of average citizens would simply not have tolerated it. 

The free enterprise system will provide plenty of firearms, so long as there is a demand for them. When that demand ceases to exist, the industry will collapse into oblivion along with our freedom. 

It is our responsibility to cultivate that demand. 

The conditions which allowed an anti-gun monarch to reign in a free republic for eight years did not develop overnight. They were facilitated by a culture which placed immediate gratification and pork-barrel politics above the sanctity of freedom. The "Generation X" leaders it produced played their Utopian serenade, and millions followed them into the streets like the children of Hamlin. And as long as they kept playing it, integrity, ethics, and the Spirit of 76 were just yesterdays news.

It is our responsibility rebuild that once indomitable spirit, that made America free.

My fellow Americans- we came very, very close to becoming enslaved by these people. Not with swords and chains, mind you, like the people of Israel were once enslaved by Egypt; but with the chains of administrative and judicial rule, and "factoid" statistics designed to scare us into submission. We must never again allow precious freedom to teeter on the brink of the abyss. It is our duty to insure that there are overwhelming numbers of young Americans who value freedom above all else, and have learned first hand that responsible firearms ownership is an honorable exercise of that freedom.

And don't bother telling me that its impossible. The winter at Valley Forge was impossible, but precious freedom was worthy of the sacrifice. Storming the beach at Normandy was impossible, but the American fighting spirit made it possible. Our task is a cakewalk compared to theirs. 

Make it a personal goal to teach ten responsible kids the safe, responsible use of firearms before you pass from this earth. Give them your old gun books, and feed their natural hunger to learn. Follow their progress, mentor them, and above all else, provide for them the perfect example. Generations yet unborn are hungry for the sweet taste of freedom. So, teach a kid to shoot, and as the opposition loves to say- "Do it for the children".