|Chief Ken Ledford, James Banks of Phase Line Defense, and Me |
(photo: Phase Line Defense)
So why did I pay for, take, and qualify to carry a CCW license? It is hard to explain. So let me start as close to the beginning as I can.
I had a father who was a Captain in the Army. He was a Green Beret during the Vietnam war. He was part of the 82nd Airborne. He was stationed at Fort Bragg. When I lived with him in St. Louis I asked a lot of questions about his service. Most of it was deflected. He rarely spoke of his time there and when he did it wasn't in much detail. He did not like hunting. He didn't get the point of going out into the woods to shoot at a defenseless animal for sport. He didn't see the sport in shooting at something that couldn't shoot back (he always said this with a wry smile on his face). He did not like rifles. He did not have the sort of things around his house that would tell you that he was a qualified sniper. But to say my Dad did NOT have deadly weapons in his house was a gross gross understatement.
My Dad has plenty of weapons. Most of them used in martial arts, in which my Dad was a trained black belt. He once told me a story of when he got out of the military, lived in Florida and a group of Cubans surrounded him in Miami in a parking lot. They were trying to rob him. My dad calmly said that if they came after him they would probably hurt him or kill him, but there would also be a few of them coming with him. They disbursed and nothing happened.
So when I look at it owning a firearm is the same as owning a sword. The object itself will not hurt you. It will not hurt someone else. It will not kill you. The person wielding such weapons are the people who will hurt you, you will hurt someone else, and they will kill you. Simple as that.
So understanding how a firearm works should be approached just like learning how a sword works. Understanding how to render them safe is not a bad thing. I didn't have a Dad that was willing to teach me about firearms, but he taught me about this swords. I didn't have a mom who signed a permission slip for me to learn about firearms at boy scout camp. Up until 3 weeks ago, I had never fired a firearm more powerful than a bb gun. My mom was the quintessential mother who lived and breathed the philosophy, "you'll shoot your eye out".
Despite it being drilled into my head that firearms are dangerous, it didn't sway my curiosity from them. I was very nervous to learn how they worked from a hillbilly who passed an NRA instructors course. When I met the man my wife's sister was going to marry he offered to take me shooting with his dudes, who were what you could safely call redneck outdoorsy types; my asshole puckered up so tight and I declined their offer. So when Kevin emailed me about James at Phase Line Defense, I did my diligence. He was in federal law enforcement. He was an Army veteran. He wasn't a hillbilly, despite the fact he grew up in the South.
The approach that I take is if you are going to learn about guns, do it in a safe, controlled environment, from not only someone the state and NRA deem competent but also is federally trained in law enforcement. Honestly the hillbilly in a cabin teaching me about firearms is exactly why I haven't learned about firearms. I can't relate to them. I don't care about their politics that usually are intertwined into their approach. I don't like the sole approach that firearms are the correct answer for self defense. I didn't get this from James. What I got from James was simple. If you are going to carry a firearm, you had better know how it works and know how to use it.
There are two dangers to owning a firearm. Carelessness and Ignorance. Careless in wielding it, careless in the storage, careless all around. Ignorance is about lack of knowledge. The person with the firearm didn't have a proper knowledge of it. That's when you hear about a kid killing themselves or someone else. Or it is always a combination of both. I am trying to clear my life of the ignorance. Knowledge is power.
James' class was amazing for me. It was exactly what I was looking for. It took away my nerves. I learned that I am competent at shooting at paper targets. I also learned that I don't have a lot of bad habits because I am so green at operating a firearm.
I think America is made up of a lot of people like me. In the center politically and curious, but there is a barrier to learning about something because of the political stigma. There are vocal minorities that are shouting in each direction. One side says firearms are terrible. One side says firearms are the only logical form of defense and everyone in America should have one. I think there is a quiet majority that are in the middle, just like me. This is why I think James would be the perfect instructor for lots of folks. He has a deep knowledge, understanding, and training to help you understand the purpose of carrying a firearm. One thing that stuck with me from yesterday is this; "If you are in a fight and are carrying a gun, there is always a gun in the fight, because YOU brought it."
That is a lot of responsibility. I don't think I am there. Not sure if I will ever be. What I do know is that I am interested in it enough to keep learning, and I am not sure I would use anyone else beside James at Phase Line Defense to learn. His approach is exactly what I was expecting. He is a confidence builder and that, my friends, is what it takes to understand a firearm.
Knowledge what I am choosing to arm myself with.