A nation of Riflemen...
I copied this from another thread and posted it here. it was in a discussion about nightforce scopes, but was posted by Scott from liberty optics...it is a great read...AJ
A Nation of Riflemen First Needs Men
Essays March 4th, 2008
Early in World War II, Japan considered invading the mainland of the United States. Admiral Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Japanese naval forces and architect of the Pearl Harbor bombing, advised against invading. Twenty years prior, Admiral Yamamoto had spent a few years in the United States studying at Harvard University. Based on his experience with American culture, Admiral Yamamoto reportedly told his government, "I would never invade the United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."
Admiral Yamamoto's observation speaks to the heart of America's uniqueness. The Admiral observed, in essence, that America was not a nation of subjects, who could be expected to cower and hope for their government to save them. It was a nation of citizens ready, willing, and able to defend their piece of ground against all comers, as a matter of civic duty, personal responsibility, and pride. It was the presence of citizens such as these–not the United States military–that filled his heart with fear.
From the drafting of the Bill of Rights onward, America has placed its faith not in the hands of a cultural, political, or academic elite, or in a standing military, but rather in the hands of armed, self-reliant citizens with the desire and ability to care for themselves. The United States was designed not to be a nation of subejcts, like every other on earth, but a nation of men. A nation of riflemen.
It is unsurprising that the Admiral, coming from the conformist culture of Japan, was impressed by the gritty self-reliance of American culture. Even in the soft confines of Harvard, the social norm of individualism was in sufficient evidence to catch Admiral Yamamoto's attention.
The Admiral's concern came not just from the individualistic spirit he observed in American culture, but also from the rifles that would fill their capable hands if an invasion was attempted. America at that time, and throughout most of its history, prided itself on being a "nation of riflemen," where every able-bodied man was, if not a master marksman, at least competent in the use of a longarm.
The concept of a "nation of riflemen" was not the product of some unhealthy cultural obsession with weapons, nor did it arise from any remarkable immediate threat to popular safety. The concept was the natural outgrowth of spirit evident in the very founding of the United States, the spirit that made Americans unique and America great. The rifle is, implicitly, the symbol of the self-reliant American.
Why use a rifle as the symbol of self-reliance? Because no other thing, word, or sign is nearly as fitting. In The Prince, Nicolo Machievelli wrote, "[b]etween an armed and an unarmed man, there is no comparison whatsoever . . . ." An unarmed man is, by definition, a dependent. He is incapable of securing his own safety. He must depend on someone else to defend him against attack, whether from a stray dog, a lone criminal, an organized gang, or a foreign army. He rightly fears any separation from society, because solitude separates him from those who can defend him and singles him out as a target for those who might wish to harm him. He is tied by his interest in self-preservation to whoever assumes the burden of defending him. His need to be defended puts him at the mercy of his defender, and over time, he by neccesity becomes their subject.
An armed man, by contrast, has the means for independence. While he may choose to avail himself of help in securing his own safety, he does not need it. He can, if he chooses, separate himself from society without fear, confident that he can preserve himself without aid. He can even hunt meat, skins, and furs for his own food and clothes, freeing himself at least in part from the social economy. He is not fundamentally dependent on anyone, and therefore has no need to become subject to another's demands. Moreover, he has the means to resist anyone who would seek to force him into subjectivity. A rifle, more than any other tool, enables a man who desires self-reliance to attain it.
Just as the spirit of self-reliance is stillborn if the person it inspires is unarmed, a rifle is worse than useless in the hands of someone without the mindset to use it for its intended purpose. It takes a man–a real man, who believes in personal responsibility, in a duty to defend himself, his family, and his friends, who values courage and seeks to possess it–to make a rifleman of the sort whose existence deterred the Japanese from invading the US.
America, sadly, seems to be a nation with a rapidly dwindling population of such men. Biologically male humans continue to be born and to die at normal rates, but men are increasingly scarce. Public schools raise boys to be good little girls by punishing any sign of initiative, assertiveness, decisiveness, aggression, stubborness, or independence of thought–traits essential to a self-reliant man; traits our Founding Fathers had in spades. Attributes found in most boys and that would, if left alone, develop in manhood into a capacity for self-reliance, are shamed and punished out of many of them before they graduate junior high.
On the other side of the age spectrum, the government seeks endlessly to expand entitlement programs such as universal health care, and will likely continue to push until everyone in America is, in one fashion or another, dependent on it for some essential service. Self-reliance is, literally, in danger of becoming outlawed. It is unsurprising that many state governments also seek to outlaw firearms, the symbol of self-reliance. The passion and persistence of the anti-gun movement is inexplicable until understood in the context of the symbolic importance of firearms. It is not firearms these politicians hate with such vehemence–after all, hating a piece of inanimate iron is too silly to be contemplated seriously by intelligent adults–but rather the self-reliance symbolized by firearms. They seek to ban not guns per se, but rather the kind man who neither wants, nor needs, nor can be compelled to accept their vision of a wholly dependent society, guided by the wisdom of an elite few.
America still has plenty of rifles, at least for the moment. What she lacks is men–the kind of men in whose hands a rifle is not merely a weapon, but a symbol of freedom, a condemnation of tyranny, and a standing refusal to become a subject. The Constitutional drafters understood that the existence of liberty requires on such men, and drafted the Second Amendment to ensure that they would always remain armed. The drafters never anticipated that the self-reliant man would be outlawed before the rifles were.