The world needs citizen warriors.
I’m talking about the average, ordinary, everyday folks you see on your way to work, at the grocery store, or wherever they might be, but who are more than capable of taking bad people down a peg or two.
We need more folks like that. Desperately.
Over the last few months, our news cycle has seemingly been dominated by one topic other than Donald Trump. That topic? School shootings.
Many have postulated that the prevalence of guns in this country is somehow responsible for a perceived increase in mass shootings and that we need to ban certain kinds of guns because some mass shooters need them.
However, the problem isn’t guns. Bad people can use any number of tools to create havoc in our streets and in our hearts. Oklahoma City used fertilizer and fuel oil. A terrorist in New York used a Home Depot rental truck. Some tosser in Toronto used a van to kill people because he couldn’t get laid.
In other words, bad people will use whatever they can to do bad things. Banning guns isn’t an answer.
Pro-gun proponents will often say that what we need are more guns. The sentiment is right but expressed poorly. After all, we now have enough guns in civilian hands to arm every man, woman, and child in this country. If there was a certain saturation point of guns that would stop these kinds of things, we’d have already hit that point.
The answer isn’t more or fewer guns–though I am not about to advocate a violation of our Second Amendment rights because we supposedly have “enough” guns. There’s no such thing–but that we need more people with the willingness, training, and warrior mindset to go along with those tools.
In other words, we need citizens with the means, skill, and opportunity to intervene in many of these situations and put down these rabid animals.
However, everywhere we turn, we see people opposing this idea. Why? Well, they’d tell you that they don’t like guns and don’t think “weapons of war” belong on our streets, but they’re lying to you.
Hell, they’re probably lying to themselves too, so don’t feel too bad about it.
You see, for most people, the warrior is terrifying. These are people who have the tools, training, and psychological makeup that closely mimic the people the warriors are protecting the masses against.
In the old metaphor of the sheepdog–you know the one. Where the people are “sheep,” and the bad guys are “wolves” and the only way people can be protected are the “sheepdogs?” That one–there a comment I’ve read along with it about how the sheep fear the sheepdog because the sheepdog looks uncomfortably close to the wolf.
People are often uncomfortable with those who have embraced any aspect of the warrior life. They accept it in military and law enforcement personnel, in part because these are trappings they understand. They see the uniform and can feel an expectation that these warriors won’t turn against them. At least to some extent, anyway.
But for the regular folks, they get uncomfortable. They get afraid.
Years ago, a group that my wife and I socialized with asked me to no longer attend. I wasn’t an asshole to anyone. I didn’t get drunk and wreck the place. I didn’t do any of that.
No, I was asked to not stick around because I scared them.
I scared them because I was a shooter. I enjoyed taking my gun to the range and testing myself. I shot some matches with the local shooting club and I really enjoyed it. Because these were supposed to be my friends, I shared my excitement over my pastime.
It was not appreciated.
When I was told I was making people uncomfortable with my beloved topic, I stopped bringing it up. I wouldn’t talk about guns or anything of the sort unless someone else brought it up first. I figured that at that point, it was fair game.
Since that day, I’ve reconnected with most of that group, and it seems that most liked me, but a handful of folks didn’t. I made them uncomfortable.
To revisit the metaphor, I reminded them far too much of the wolf.
But that is one reason why we need more citizen warriors, my own term for those private citizens not engaged in the trade of protecting their fellow citizens. We need more of them as a form of social exposure therapy for those so terrified of every shadow.
As things stand, many are trying to stigmatize gun owners to the point where they will never admit to being gun owners. They’re trying to “gun shame” us into remaining quiet, thus allowing them to dominate the gun debate.
Yet, if we can expand the number of citizen warriors to the point where everyone knows these people, where there’s one in every place of employment (if not several dozen), one in every church, one in every restaurant or movie theater.
We need them out there and we need them to be vocal. We need them to acknowledge that yes, they have the training and tools to do very bad things, but they are proud of their society and have no interest in acting against society’s laws. Instead, they will lay down their lives for their fellow man if need be.
A proliferation of these men and women–there is zero reason in this day and age that it simply has to be men–will make it harder to pretend that the citizen warrior is some kind of fringe group.
Unfortunately, such a thing will be difficult to do.
For better or worse, the stigmatization of warriors was long ago. It started with parents being told that games like “war” and “cops and robbers” wasn’t fitting for children. They were encouraged to engage in other forms of play. They were told that such things weren’t appropriate and that such play would invariably lead to more violence on our streets.
Some parents listened. Some didn’t.
However, schools carried the effort on. Whereas a schoolyard fight might have landed the kids some mild punishment in times gone by, today it is the cause of dreadful concern. Meanwhile, no effort is made to determine who initiated the fight or why it took place. Both parties are punished the same, thereby teaching that meekness is the only appropriate response to naked aggression.
Children’s entertainment has been constantly under assault by busybody parents who fear little Jimmy seeing a gun on television might damage his precious psyche and thus, such think should be purged from all entertainment.
In other words, a series of efforts through the year have successfully wussified the American public.
Through it all, though, there have always been the rebels. Those are the people who feel compelled to embrace the nature of the warrior no matter what. They can’t help themselves. They simply feel a compulsion to learn and train to protect their fellow man.
Many gravitate toward the military or law enforcement. However, sometimes they succumb to pressure to do other things for whatever reason. Maybe family obligations present themselves. Maybe an old injury makes pursuing a warrior’s vocation an impossibility. Who knows.
Still others did their time and came home from military service. The reasons are plentiful, but often they had nothing to do with needing an end to putting it all on the line for someone else. That is rarely given as a cause.
Now, these people are among us. They’re like a divine insurance policy against evil.
The problem is, these people are often few and far between. We need more of them. We need to undo the damage of decades of busybody mothers terrified that little Jimmy might see something unpleasant. We need to undo decades of parents terrified that violent play leads to actual violence, despite the legions who engaged in such play and have never harmed a soul.
We need to undo it all.
In the process, we need more citizen warriors so they can be everywhere they need to be. They can be on the New York subway car. They can be on the airplane. They can be in the movie theater or office building. They can be there the very moment they’re needed.
Maybe it’s a mass shooter, some jackass who thinks he needs to take vengeance for some imagined slight. Maybe it’s a terrorist who thinks his 72 virgins await. Maybe it’s some loser who thinks this will make some kind of a point.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the moment that evil rears its head, someone is there to meet it and put an end to it. Permanently, if needed.
The only way that happens is if the warriors are there when they’re needed, and for that, we need more of them.