My last duty station was Hawaii, and now I’m in the north east. In both cases, the local government treated me like a criminal for owning a weapon. For example, I had to pay 16 dollars and 50 cents (in exact change!) in Hawaii to have them do a background check. Despite the check being essentially instant, it took the Hawaii PD an hour. While I sat there, the guy said “You know it’s fairly intensive,” to which I replied “The government gave me a clearance, I’m really not too worried about my background.” Low and behold, I cleared.
It was almost impossible to find a range on the island and shoot regularly without paying an arm and a leg. So I didn’t. And for many service members, that’s what happens too. We get into an intensive job and in our time off try to spend time with a young family, and before long it has been years since we hit the range for anything but a mandatory once a year pistol shoot to stand the quarterdeck watch.
So if you’re slightly older and remember the days when kids had shotguns in the car so they could bird hunt after school, then you have some responsibilities.
TAKE A FRIEND SHOOTING
It wasn’t so long ago that I was stationed in Virginia with a dog, a young daughter and much easier access to hunting land and gun ranges. On Wednesdays, my peers and I would come in early, drop our guns off at the range locker, work until about 3:30, then head to the range to blast away at some targets for an hour. We called it “Warrior Wednesday,” and it helped us maintain our pistol and rifle qualifications.
More than a few folks from neighboring departments saw this, and soon we started dragging a small crowd out, including the occasional 2nd Amendment denier. Yes, if you can believe it, we have a lot of military members who only ever shot a weapon once in boot camp, and otherwise think the 2nd Amendment references some sort of hunting thing. But once we brought them out and showed them how to shoot properly, most were hooked. I helped plenty pick out pistols and fill out concealed carry permits. I could have spent hours arguing, but instead a simple invitation to the range made a difference.
TAKE A FRIEND HUNTING
My ancestry sits in Germans leaving their homeland and starting farms in America. Growing up, I had plenty of land to go hunting on. Now, it’s becoming harder to find, and its far easier to play games on the computer at the end of a hard days work than drive to your family land and go hunting. So it’s not surprising that hunting permits are in decline. Increasingly I notice that I’m the youngest guy hunting. And if you’re new to hunting, you might join a hunt club…but don’t be surprised when most turn out like a crappy fraternity. On the other hand, there are plenty of organizations slowly making the rules more difficult. At some point, hunting will be a sport reserved for the rich, similar to how it is in Europe.
If the number of hunters doesn’t increase, it will be increasingly easy to end hunting in America. So if you hunt, take a friend. Start introducing people to hunting. Share some game. Show a friend how to butcher a deer. And fight back against the stereotypes. I had a friend make crazy claims about how venison is “gamey,” but after they had a venison steak, I never heard that argument again.
TAKE A FRIEND TO MASS
The largest Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, and the second largest is fallen-away Catholics. I’ve had people ask me how I manage to survive SERE school, two Commanding Officers being fired, and losing a child, and when I reply with “my Catholic faith,” most don’t believe me. For many, religion faith is an emotional issue, as in “I have faith if I can feel it.” That’s exactly what the atheist movement wants you to think, because if faith is an emotion, it can be changed, molded, and even eliminated. Yet real faith is much more, and includes understanding the logic and reason behind what you believe in.
But you can’t start if you don’t go to church. So it’s not enough for you to go to Mass. You need to take your friends. I bet there are empty seats at your parish’s Friday night fish fry. How about inviting someone out for Mass and follow-on dinner on Saturday? It’s not hard to do, and once they start going, you might have saved their soul.
THE BIGGER POINT: PRACTICING WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN A GROUP
Most of us have already had conflicts with what we believe vs. what others would like us to do. Sometimes it is easy to simply go with the flow, and certainly that’s what society tries to do. We make it easy to scroll Facebook, argue, sit on the couch, sleep in on Sunday morning, and in general be lackadaisical about the world around us. But the world is paying attention to us. Organized groups are looking to slowly strip people of their rights and make it harder for people to practice their faith. If you don’t believe that, try saying something like “gay marriage is a sin” or “the second amendment is a right, not a hunting privilege” in an open setting and let me know the response you get.
You either stand up for what you believe, or you sit down and get told what to believe. It’s far easier to stand up with your friends if you brought them in early. Build that community now, or soon you’ll be standing alone.
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