Charley Reese Told Me To Arm Myself


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