Charley Reese Told Me To Arm Myself

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A well
regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Recently I
took Charley
Reese's advice
and exercised my Second Amendment right to keep
and bear arms. I'm trying to exercise as many of those constitutional
rights as possible these days, while available, given the increasing
tendency of governments and do-gooders to subjugate, circumvent
or creatively interpret those rights.

Fortunately
I have not had occasion to try out the Fifth, Sixth or Seventh Amendments,
but I thoroughly have enjoyed the First and now am looking forward
to the Second. Gettin' while the gettin's good, I guess — one never
knows these days.

For the first
time in my life, at age 52, I'm a gun owner. I bought a pistol,
to be precise, from a local dealer who did an instant background
check (clean, apparently), swiped my credit card, and bagged up
a serviceable Smith & Wesson 9mm with case, lock, cleaning kit
and a hundred rounds of ammunition in the span of a quarter-hour.

I returned
to the gun store, which also houses an indoor shooting range, a
week later after learning everything I could about my S&W, including
fieldstripping and cleaning. It was time to learn to shoot.

It takes practice,
as I learned. Handling the gun, shooting, adjusting sights, more
shooting, cleaning, more shooting. Only after a couple of hundred
rounds did I begin to feel comfortable handing my pistol, and that
was in an indoor, controlled, target-practice environment.

I brought my
wife with me to the range the following week and taught her how
to shoot. She liked it, and not only the part about pointing the
pistol downrange, aiming and squeezing off a couple of rounds.

She also learned
how to load and insert clips, remove empty clips, and, most importantly
(in addition to general gun safety), she learned how to rack the
slide and lock it open and unlock it again, all without chipping
a fingernail in the process.

Operating the
slide was the most challenging aspect for her. It takes some strength,
dexterity and practice, but by the end of our session she had it
down, just like on television.

We will need
considerably more practice and experience should we need to be able
to react to a life-threatening situation, which is the other reason,
besides target shooting, I took Charley's advice.

As Mr. Reese
observed, "These days, everyone would do well to add a pinch
of paranoia to his otherwise sunny disposition and trusting nature."

So now we're
signed up for an Oklahoma Self-Defense Act class which, upon completion,
will make us eligible to apply to the state for concealed carry
permits. Once the permits are issued we will be legally enabled
to carry a concealed weapon in Oklahoma and the 31 other states
which honor Oklahoma's permit, subject to a few obvious restricted
places like schools, jails and sporting events.

Under what
circumstances we will use our concealed carry permit we largely
will determine based on the kind of situations in which we expect
to find ourselves in the future. As an example, on a recent four-hour
hike in the hills of southwest Oklahoma, all I had in my backpack,
besides lunch, water and sunscreen, was a decent hunting knife,
but, paraphrasing Charley, bringing a knife to a gunfight never
does one all that much good.

Not that we
expected a gunfight on the trails but next time, along with our
permits, we'll bring the pistol, and it will be ready on my hip,
not unloaded in a backpack, because these days you just don't
know and fortune favors the well-prepared and well-armed.

Good call,
Charley. And it's all the more timely given an upcoming Second Amendment
decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of District
of Columbia v. Heller, its first consideration of our right
to bear arms in nearly 70 years.

For all the
confusion the Second seems to cause, it appears pretty straightforward
to me.

Recently I
read a commentary which interpreted the "well regulated"
part of "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to
the security of a free State…" as the ability of a state (or
county, parish, city, town) to control — regulate — any and all
aspects of gun ownership, as Washington D.C. has attempted.

I'm no constitutional
lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but even I know the phrase "well
regulated Militia" refers to well-trained, well-ordered, disciplined
fighting units, like the British Army against which we fought for
independence, whose members, in those Bill of Rights days, were
called "regulars" (full-time professionals, as opposed
to part-time reserves).

Those British
Army regulars were most unlike the farmers and shop keeps who originally
comprised our colonial militias which combined to form the Continental
Army led by George Washington.

It would seem
the Founders, who wanted no standing, "regular" army but
having learned at great cost the risk of not having well-trained,
well-ordered, disciplined fighting units available when necessary,
determined that prohibiting private gun ownership might impair our
preparedness and ability to repel future invading armies, such as
the British, again, in 1812–1815.

In 2008, despite
a standing national armed force and standing professional state
militias, I would think the Founders would look favorably on any
of us "people" owning guns and knowing how and when to
use them.

After all,
if our regular military, reserves and national guards all are out
of town liberating the democracy-deficient peoples of the world,
who else would be available to repel any future foreign invaders
if our Second Amendment right becomes infringed?

So thank you,
Charley, for some common sense advice. We have taken while it remains
our right to do so.

May
31, 2008

Keith
Hazelton [send him mail]
is a wealth manager and occasional essayist living in Oklahoma City.
Visit his website.

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