Tell Me Your Story

I’ve had the opportunity to make lots of new friends in the gun blogger community and reconnect with old thanks to the recent get-togethers organized by Lucky Gunner and the lovely and delightful Phlegmmy.  That list of bloggers I’ve met continues to grow.  In fact, I’m fairly certain it isn’t even complete.

But whether I’ve met you or not, I want to know your story.  The vast majority of my readers are firearms enthusiasts of some stripe.  How did that happen?  How did you become gunnies?

I’ll start.

I fired my first shot on New Years Day 2008.  I was 29 years old.  I had no prior experience with firearms of any kind. And I was scared to death.

I grew up in a household with no guns.  Not only no guns, but a fear of them.  I didn’t know anyone in my family had firearms in their homes until my granddad passed away in 2007 and my grandmother passed his rifle down to his nephew.  Seeing Nana holding that rifle was kind of a shock to my system.  I took a picture, laughing about the oddity of the image.

It sparked some discussion and the decision was made that we were buying a gun.  Michael‘s grandfather had been an avid shooter and gunsmith.  He had a pre-24 Smith and Wesson which was inherited by Michael’s father years ago.  Michael and his brother realized that would be the one thing they would fight about when it came time for one of them to inherit it.  We decided to settle it early and just go purchase a new one.

At the time, I really thought it was just idle talk.  You know, one of those do it eventually never really get around to it kinds of things.

But the time came to visit the dreaded gun range.  Yikes!  I had visions of some seedy place with bad lighting lecherous men.  Something akin to a pool hall.  I imagined walking in to be greeted with steely looks from people that didn’t appreciate new-comers.  But I put on my big girl panties and high-heeled boots and off we went.  My heart was racing for the entire drive.  What would it be like?  Would it be dangerous?

I was completely unprepared for what I saw.  I think I stood in the doorway to H&H for several seconds trying to process what I was seeing.  It was well lit and welcoming.  I was met with rows and rows of locked cabinets full of handguns in more varieties than I dreamed possible.  You mean there’s more to this than big blue revolvers and the Glocks I’d seen in movies?  The salesmen greeted us with smiles and offers to answer our questions.

We eventually found our way to the big blue revolvers.  At the time, Smith and Wesson had not released the 24 in the classic series, but they did have a 29.  It looked about the same and could fire both .44 Special and .44 Magnum.  We inspected it through the glass and talked some more.  A salesman approached and asked if we wanted to see it.  See it?  As in handle it?  My palms began to sweat.  I wondered if that would be safe.

Not only was it perfectly safe to handle it, but then he asked if we’d like to shoot one.  Shoot one?  Really?  Oh no.  I couldn’t.  This was too much.  Total. Mental. Overload.  And yet, a few minutes later, there I stood in a shooting lane with a loaded 629 in my hands.  Even though I’d just watched Michael shoot it, I was not prepared.


Damn! That .44 Magnum packs a punch.  And not just in your hands.  I felt the concussion in my chest.  But hey!  I hit paper.  Deep breath.


Hit the target hanger.  Yeah, probably time to put that down.

In hindsight, I realize that .44 Magnum is not exactly appropriate for a new shooter.  Live and learn right?  We’d also rented a Smith & Wesson M&P in 9mm on the recommendation of the salesman.  The guy at the rental counter even made sure it had the small grip insert installed.  He also showed me how it worked since I really had no clue.

You know, after shooting the .44 magnum, 9mm was nothing.  Bang! Bang! Bang!  Holy Crap!  This is fun!  And down the rabbit hole we went.  We bought that beautiful model 29 that day.  My first gun related blog post came a couple days later when we picked it up.  And on that day, a pair of gun nuts were born.

Hooray! Now I’ve just got to pick one out for myself. I plan to shoot several of the rentals on the range before I decide what I can really handle. Then we will start the process to get our conceal and carry permits. Long Live the Second Amendment!

And on the 25th of that very same January, I bought my first gun.  We became regulars at the range, shooting nearly every weekend.  (Man I wish we could still afford to do that.)  We purchased more guns.  We got our permits.  We started carrying every day.  Michael became a holster maker.  We took classes.  We got our NRA certifications as Range Safety Officers.  I helped teach classes for women.  I’ll shoot anything and everything someone will let me.

Image courtesy of


Which pretty much brings us to today.  So what about you?  What’s your story?


97 thoughts on “Tell Me Your Story”

  1. The first time I fired a rifle I was in college, in my early 20s. We were shooting at a leftover jack-o-lantern in his back yard with an AR-style .22LR. I was a complete noob, but I managed to hit the pumpkin on the first try (low right, no big achievement, 25 yards tops), wondering the whole time whether the woods behind us really counted as a backstop (Rule Four — but I /knew nothin about the four rules at that time). I thought guns were interesting pieces of engineering and had some purpose, but that’s about as far as it went.

    As far as gun rights were concerned, I was an unreflective “sporting purposes” type…until about 2000, when I started reading about the history of the California AWB (wherein we learned that the slippery slope of registration to confiscation might be more than a metaphor). I literally went from zero to 2A absolutist (pack howitzers and counterbattery radar for everybody!) in about an hour.

  2. There were guns in the house when I was growing up, but my single mother didn’t talk about them, didn’t shoot, and didn’t take us shooting. That said I was never interested in guns growing up. When I was a teenager her boyfriend would go hunting and shooting but I was never included or invited so I spent my time on the weightier matters in a boys life…like girls.

    Fast forward a few years and I was properly introduced to firearms in the Army. I shot expert on the M16 and never looked back. While stationed in Germany I was my platoon’s M60 gunner, and trained new 60 gunners. I loved going to the range and would volunteer for every different kind of range we had.

    After I left the Army I started a family and really didn’t have the money for guns. I also ended up marrying a city girl who was brought up thinking that only bad guys have guns so we didn’t have guns in the house (mostly due to the money thing). A few years later we moved for work and ended up in a bad part of town and I bought a 1911 with my tax returns. My poor wife couldn’t believe that you could just walk into the shop, throw down your cash, and walk out the door with a gun! I didn’t tell her that it actually took me 3 hours to clear the background check (my old security clearance from the army flags me every time), but pointed out that it was a purchase just like anything else, and why shouldn’t you be able to do it? That really opened up her eyes and after taking her to the range she was won over.

    Now I’ve still got that 1911, along with a couple of old 22’s (one of them was from sears), a Lee Enfield 303, and a couple of shotguns. Ok, so my wife has decided that the 410 is HER shotgun, but you know what I mean. I’ve got my carry permit, and soon my wife will take her course and get hers.

    A few weeks ago I had the handgun out and striped down for a cleaning on the kitchen table and my daughter freaked out because they told her at school that ‘guns are bad and people with guns are bad’. That prompted a hour long lecture about guns being tools, safe handling, and the four rules from my wife and I for the twins. I pulled out all the guns and let them see them, show them that they were unloaded, and let them touch/hold them in a safe manner. Now they can’t wait to be big enough to go to the range with mom and dad. Well, my son can’t wait, my girl is a bit indifferent. At least I’ve got one on his way to gunny-ness, I’ll have to keep working on the other one.

  3. I grew up in NYC but spent summers in upstate NY. My dad’s uncle had a old Marlin 39 lever action that he would shoot at cans and stuff and a couple of my uncles were doing the same with .22 pistols. I was very young then but they made sure we understood we were not to touch them unless given permission. Several years later my friends and I are cutting down on the squirrel population with BB guns. I am hooked. Ended up joining a junior club in NYC where we shot small bore 50ft target. Not bad at it and even more hooked. Found out that one of my uncles who grew up in NYC was on the rifle team in the NYC public high school he went to. Wow, the range was in the basement. Got into hunting and had a few rifles including that marlin model 39, still have it and will never get rid of it. Did not shoot for 40 years or so and found a junior club that I brought my 13 yo daughter to and she was so hooked she now has her expert rating and is working on her Distinguished. She has her own Anschutz 1407 that allows her to put lots of holes in the 10 ring. When she turns 18 she will get her FID and then “own” the rifle. We got my wife involved, she likes it and is good at it but she has said that she really likes .22 bull’s eye shooting. I did get her, her own Anschutz 1407 also, which gave me the excuse to get my own 1413. The rifle is much much better than I am 🙂
    Given the economy it is on the list but I am going to get a couple of Hammerli Xesse Sport Competition models when I can. Not easy in NJ to get the right permits but it will happen 🙂

  4. I grew up in South Carolina and guns were always around.Their was always a shotgun (Browning Auto 5) and .22 rifle in the house from as long as I can remember and that was true of most if not all of my friends and relitives.My uncles hunted all the time, mostly deer,and the Belgium made Browning Auto 5 was their weapon of choice.My dad only occasionally joined them but I never got the hunting bug.I went dove and duck hunting a few times in my teens and early 20’s but I think that was more a social thing that’s what my friends were doing so I did..No one in my family was what I would consider a gun nut.They would have one maybe two shotguns a .22 rifle and maybe a handgun either a .22 or a .38.I never received any formal safety training as a child it mostly consisted of don’t touch without an adult present and don’t ever point it at anyone.There were not gun safes and trigger locks yet we never touched those guns.I got my first gun probably around the age of 5.It was a Daisy BB gun it looked like a western lever action.I was so big I had to hold the stock under my arm to shoot next gun was a single barrel .410 shotgun at the age of 8.I remember going to shoot the .22 rifle with my dad but it didn’t happen often, maybe a couple times a year.I think my gunnynes came from reading.I have always been a reader from a young age reading westerns and action books in my early teens and became fascinated with the weapons the used this led to reading gun magazines.I have never cared much for rifles and shotguns but I love handguns.In the past I have owned a Sig 226 , Glock 19,Springfield 1911 and a couple of .357 revolvers.I would carry them in my car but I never carried them on me.I then went a few years without a gun before I bought a Ruger Mk III .22. I then became interested in Councealed Carry a couple of years ago and have bought a S&W M&P .40c,A S&W 1911PD and a S&W .380 Bodyguard I also have a Charter Arms .38 Snubby.I don’t shoot as much as I like due to two factors,lack of a good safe place to shoot and cost of ammo but I am still a gun nut.

  5. Grandparents farm had a lot of groundhogs, so when I was about 12, I just picked up the .22 and started potting them.

    Fast forward a few years, and fresh out of high school, I bs’d my way through an interview and got a job in a gunshop. Been shooting steadily ever since. I’ll take anyone out shooting. Recently took some friends of mine out for their first time, and they made a video: (the .44 had light loads – I know the perils of giving a new shooter too much gun, so that’s why the light loads. And, the side benefit is that a newbie going and telling all their friends “I shot a .44 magnum!!” can actually remove a lot of mystique about guns. They shot .22, 9mm and .223 that day, too.)

    I’ve had my share of arguments with liberals, too. One, in my office, insisted that anyone who had a gun just wanted to kill people. I asked her what she would do if I handed her a gun right then. She said “I’d want to shoot someone!”. I told her she needed psychiatric help, because that’s exactly the opposite feeling I’d have.

  6. I’m easy. I grew up in a house with guns and was always surrounded by family who owned guns, mostly for hunting but some for self-defense. And one weird uncle who just bought every freaking gun he could lay hands on. 🙂

    I can’t remember a time I wasn’t around guns, and really can’t say the first time I went shooting. Yep, that young.

    I’ve raised my kids as close to that as possible, with less hunting (not too many suitable places around here, I’m afraid) and a heck of a lot more shooting (we do have ranges).

    There was a period in my life where I didn’t have any guns at hand, but I was low on money and had no choice. Now I have have plenty at hand and am looking for more. I guess I take after that weird uncle just a bit.

  7. I honestly started shooting so young, that I have no memory of the first time I ever shot a gun. I grew up in small-town East Tennessee, and as far back as I can remember, my Dad and I would go out and walk farm fields with .22s and .410s. When I was about 12 or 13, Dad showed me the ultimate sign of respect and trust…where previously I was only permitted to touch the guns under Dad’s supervision, I was now allowed to take a .22 out plinking on my own.

    I learned even more about marksmanship in JROTC in high school, and moved on to ROTC in college, and a commission in the Army. Shooting was now my livelihood, and would be for years. After the Army, I did a short stint in a civilian business before becoming a cop and SWAT guy. More shooting.

    Then I wasn’t a cop anymore, and I kind of laid the gun down for a year or two. But I realized that the sheepdog mindset dies hard, and I did not want to be powerless to the wolves that I knew were out there…so I went for a concealed carry permit and started shooting again.

    Now I am a full fledged enthusiast once again: NRA Instructor, concealed carry instructor, practical pistol competitor, and all-around ambassador for the gun life.

    But Dad passed away last November, after suffering through dementia and other health issues. A couple of years ago, his dementia was to the point that I had to take his guns away, for his safety and my Mom’s. I know in his heart he understood, but the dementia twisted his mind so that he was angry and bitter over having to give up his guns.

    So for the last couple of years of his life, we could no longer discuss guns or shooting anymore. Something we had shared since I was a small child was now a subject to be avoided, since it upset him so much. If I purchased a new gun, or had a new accomplishment at the range, I just had to keep it to myself.

    But someday I’ll see him again, and he’ll be whole. And I’ll open up a case and say, “Hey Dad, let me show you this new rifle I just got. Let’s go try it out.”

  8. Wow, Jen! What a post! And what a response!

    For all your readers: This is my story. I’m the connection between Michael and his grandfather, my dad, who raised my brothers and sisters and me with a house full of guns. He was my image of the “gun nut”, which by the way, is what my mom used to call him.

    He was brought up on a farm that was homesteaded by his father before OK statehood, and which the family still owns (that’s where Michael and his brother like to go shoot). On that farm (as much as a half section at one point I understand), he hunted regularly as a boy, and he continued to be a lifelong hunter, as well as a gunsmith and dealer. I can remember long periods of time when he would become crabbier and crabbier, and then he’d go to the mountains on a deer or elk hunt, and come back a new man. Even if he didn’t bring home any game.

    He was on the OSU (where he studied engineering) marksman team, and he was, oddly, a non-combatant in WWII. He taught his five kids (including the 3 girls of us) to respect but not fear guns.

    I can’t remember the first time I shot. But I found out early that I had inherited my daddy’s eye–intimidated my husband when he discovered that while we were dating! My favorite gun is a little single-shot lever action Stevens .22 that I carried around that family farm almost every Saturday of my early life.

    Although Jenni never met my dad (he died in 1991), I think he would’ve adored her. And I know he’d be proud of his grandson Michael, and “kiddo”, the great-grandson he never got to know.

    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

  9. The story of how I got into guns is fairly simple. I grew up with them around, and I do not ever remember a time without guns. My activity level, when it comes to shooting, has not been steady. I shot often as a child and young adult. Leaving home for the Marines at 18, I shot for different reasons. It wasn’t so much to knock over a steel target or preparing to hunt a deer anymore. But I did get to shoot quite a bit, and I enjoyed it. Shooting never got old. After leaving the Marines, I moved to New Jersey, and it wasn’t easy to shoot. I didn’t touch my rifle for years. In fact, the closest I came to shooting was an occasional game of paintball. Finally, a friend who was getting married started out his bachelor party at a local range (before there were any drinks). I shot a couple of different pistols there and it was like waking up. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done this for so long. The weight of the pistol in my hand and the smell of the powder was intoxicating. I immediately decided that whatever the expense and hassle, I would continue to do this. It is part of who I am. Now, almost two years later, I have an issue that I am outspoken about and willing to fight for. But that begins a different story, “Why do I blog?”.

  10. I learned to shoot at summer camp. Maybe shot a few of my friends’ rifles in my teen years and into my early 20s. Bought a pistol in Vegas in about 77. Then, at 23 I entered governemnt service as a BPA back in 79. Started shooting in earnest buying firearms in earnest soon after that. Moved back to NY in 83 and just kept it up.

    All the best,

  11. Sorry this took so long.
    I’ve been around firearms all of my life. Grew up in southern Ohio on a small farm. Grandpa had an old Savage bolt action .22 rifle and a Stevens 20 guage shotgun by the backdoor. Ammo was on the window sill. I started shooting at about 8 years old with that Savage .22. I fired my first revolver (another .22) at about 10. I played army most of my childhood. I’ve oly ever wanted to be two things in life, A soldier and a policeman. (the Soldier won out). I bought my own air rifle at 15 or 16. Mom really didn’t want me to. I did anyway. I bought my first real firearm when I was 18. A reproduction 1850 Navy revolver. I joined the National Guard at 17 and went on Active Duty with the Army in 1981. Spent 25+ years around Military Weapons (good tools of the trade) I’ve owned many firerms during those years. A model 10 and 25-5 S&W, an AMT hardballer .45, A replica Walker #1 Dragoon. I still have that old Navy replica. It hangs in my closet. I have only one 1911 now, but I’m a gunnie. And damn proud. Thank for the post. I brought back good memories of shooting, professionally and for fun.

  12. My father taught me how to shoot early on, and I received a youth model .22 short bolt action for my twelfth birthday. Went through ROTC and the Army (did 4 yrs active), but then didn’t shoot for about 30 years. My wife hates/fears guns, and it didn’t seem worth it to argue the matter. Then my Dad passed away and I inherited his WWII service M1911A1. My wife lost that arguement. But (like many foolish men) I didn’t think I needed training to shoot, and for several years I just threw lead downrange and money away.

    An internet friend (thanks again, Russell) sponsored me to four days of training at Front Sight, which gave me an excellent grounding in pistol shooting. I’ve taken a few more courses locally (Maryland) since then, and now I think I’m a bit better than average. Oh, and now I own several handguns, both semis and revolvers, and a few rifles. My wife still hates/fears guns, but she realizes that I enjoy them, and it’s no longer a bone of contention. Money’s a little tight now, so I haven’t bought anything for well over a year, but I have a wish list . . .

  13. We didn’t have guns in the house growing up, but I had shot at a fair amount of gophers on my relative’s farms.

    About 4 years ago, there was a violent home invasion in Phoenix where a small boy the same age as our oldest son was kidnapped, and my wife and I realized we needed something more than just the police to protect our family. She got an alarm system, I got a CZ75.

  14. I grew up mostly in the City of Chicago. I was not a police officer, a criminal, nor a “Very Special Person” so no guns for me. I had not touched a firearm until 1996.

    I moved to NH in 1979 for work and I was active in politics working on increasing personal liberty. I had no problem with people owning firearms but it was just not something I had gotten around to looking into.

    In 1996 a friend at work talked me into going deer hunting with him. The first firearm I shot was borrowed from him, a Winchester 94 in .30-30, which also became the first firearm I purchased. I discovered that I liked shooting but I was incompetent at hunting. I would be out all day and not see a deer in the woods, only on the side of the road on the way home. After a number of times of going through this I lost interest in hunting. However I became very interested in shooting. I first shot handguns at a local commercial range, bought some, and took a couple of classes at SigArms Academy which is local to me. I got involved in various shooting sports, IDPA, High Power Service Rifle, Metallic Silhouette, etc. While I enjoy rifle shooting, pistols and personal protection became my main interest.

    Eventually I became an NRA Instructor and then a Training Counselor for Basic Pistol as well as Personal Protection Inside and Outside the Home. I enjoy teaching. I also almost always carry a firearm.

    As the friend who initially took me hunting put it, “he created a monster”. 🙂

    My wife’s story is different. She grew up in the country in Ohio and they had firearms in the home. She supports RKBA and was one of those who traveled to DC to join the event that countered the “Million Mom March”. That effort eventually led to the creation on the Second Amendment Sisters.

    She had two younger brothers and shooting was an at the home competition with them. She basically only shot .22 rifles. After I got into shooting she got back into it. Initially just .22 target pistols. We shot some NRA Bullseye at a local club. I took her and a grandson to an Apple Seed shoot and she really got into it. Eventually she bacame an Apple Seed Instructor and then Shoot Boss. Recently she took the training to become an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor so we can teach together. Spending the day at the range together working on whatever we are each trying to improve is an enjoyable way to spend time together.

  15. My Dad and Uncle Sam. I grew up in the country. 3rd Grade, it was like the fathers got together and decided that every boy on the road should have a bb gun for Christmas. 4th or 5th Grade it was .22 rifles and we were on the loose hunting squirrels. My Dad didn’t hunt but I was lucky enough to have a neighbor that offered to go with me, use his .410 and give me hunting lessons. Somewhere in there this (seemed really old. like 50 lol ) guy gave me the hunting ethics lectures, the gun safety lectures and made it fun as we went through the woods sneaking up on the wily rodent.

    I joined the Army in 1972 and was introduced to an entirely different attitude about shooting and taught a new skill set so many years later when I got out I brought the love for the tool and the joy of using it well with me.

    When my daughter was old enough I gave her the .22 rifle that my dad gave me and taught her how to shoot.

    The circle continues.

  16. There were always weapons in the house- Dad was a well known rifleman in the area. (I’ve been told he hunted phesants with his garand and seldom missed, among other stories of him.) He died when I was 10 so didn’t get to see him in action much beyond B.B. guns and .22, and he’d light wooden stick matches with either just to entertain us kids.
    After he died, Mom got rid of the guns by giving them to her brothers. Still, they were in the family and I grew up around them, learned to shoot early.
    Uncle Sam let me play with a few different varieties from 68-72, and when I returned to the World, I started buying an arsenal, did some competition, got involved in PPC for a while- mostly shooting a wheel gun those days- and trap with a Winchester Model ’97 older than I was.
    Got ‘into’ black powder in the early 70’s.
    Lost the arsenal when the wife decided to take a powder and cleaned house.
    Now, after a few more years, I’m back in the saddle with another arsenal and doing some local IDP and Steel competitions, a lot of practice in the combat arena- the times, they are a’changin’, don’tcha know?

  17. Isn’t it awesome to find something you love? I had a similar reaction when I started diving(in 2008 too!) Though I approached it with far less preconception and dread. I became an instructor last year.

    I also shot my first pistol on the same vacation trip that I learned to dive on, but there hasn’t been much more done after that, mostly due a) onerous restrictions here(sweden), b) lack of time/money. I discovered the joy of shooting in my lower teens already though, starting on pellet rifles and graduating to hunting rifles and shotguns(my favorites at the time was a 6.5×55 swede bolt-action rifle, and a beretta semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun).

  18. I’ve read books almost ever since I can remember; my Mother taught me to read in self defense when I was about 4. I think in hindsight there were times she thought she’d made a mistake, as my pursuit of the wonder of the printed word put me at odds with her ideas of what I ought to be doing.

    At any rate, I discovered science fiction as a pre-teen, and Robert Anson Heinlein when I was 11 or so.
    I gobbled everything he’d published, and after that, I eagerly awaited each new release. In 1973, “Time enough for Love” was published, and I suffered through the torture of waiting to get it from the library. Heinlein’s work had been gun positive, with several of his earlier works making positive reference to the right to bear arms, but Time Enough For Love made the point that every citizen not only had a right but a duty to defend himself and his family, and that one could not be educated in the ways of the world without having skill at arms, and arms.

    I determined that I was going to work to emulate Lazarus Long- “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    I took on acquiring skill at arms as a duty, and quickly found that I enjoyed shooting for it’s own sake. Almost 40 years later, I still do, and I am still acquiring more skills. I hope to continue enjoying both of these things for many more years to come.

  19. We were fairly poor. Mom had a garden and a savage .22 pumpgun to keep the bunnies and other critters from eating our food. One of my earliest memories is running out to grab a dead bunny she had popped so we could have fried rabbit for supper.

    Dad had a trench gun standing in the corner behind the front door. He was a Minister and we sometimes had people stay with us to get away from what would be now called domestic violence and sometimes their would be drunken midnight visitors wanting the misses back home.

    I bought a 1911 thru the mail in 1967 for something like $11.00 in postage stamps on a postcard sent to New Jersey. I had a paper route and that was close to two months pay. I was 11. Been buying them ever since.

    I carry, had my permit for as long as it’s been available but I always bad one nearby or on me even before the permit laws changed. I figured my job as a carpenter and manager of crappy apartments was license enough.

    Wife has her carry permit, as does son and daughter. I used to shoot matches but when race guns and cold ranges became the norm I walked away. Remington used to sell me pallets of bullets for reloading. 25-50,000 rounds a year was not uncommon. I hunt all I can as do my kids. Upland, deer, varmints and more. Instead of watching tv we sit and listen to ball games and Hockey games and reload.

    My Second Amendment views are pretty much of the “shall not be infringed” is a literal intent by the framers. I believe all gun control laws are explicitly unconstitutional. That’s right, ALL of them. Tax stamps are my biggest complaint. It’s a slap to freedom and liberty.

  20. On your next trip to Europe detour to Vilnius and the NKVD/KGB Museum and the nearby is massacre site at Ponary/Panieriu. About 100 km west of Vilnius is Kovno/Kaunas, site of the infamous ‘Ninth Fort’.

    You will likely draw a series of lessons from these excursions:

    1) Government identification records are the clerical basis for mass murder and other atrocities: No, not every government ID scheme leads to genocide or expatriation. But for collectivists of the German Reich and the USSR, each victim’s identity card was part of the targeting and the “production record”.

    2) Get to the forest early if you want to live: If you think they will be coming for you, you are probably right. Plan not to be where they know you work and live. Act early if you want to maximize your chances. You and your family will die if you are at your government-approved address.

    3) The “Bad People” will have lots of help from your neighbors: The most disturbing moment for me in the KGB museum was not in the execution or interrogation/torture cells. It was realizing, while moving through the excellent exhibits on the mass deportations of Lithuanians after “liberation” by the Soviets in 1944, that most of the deportees (many of whom were subsequently executed or starved or died of exposure and disease) had been betrayed to the NKVD/KGB by their neighbors.

    4) “Fascism” is not the mortal enemy of freedom and life; collectivism is: At each of the memorials, one could tell the provenance of any signage by reference to “fascism”. Mostly, such markings were from the Soviet era, during which — not coincidentally — many more millions of innocent human beings were killed than had been slaughtered by Hitlerites and collaborators.

    5. Never report en masse when ordered to do so: Nothing good ever happens to folks who do.

    6. Food and ammunition will be the vital shortages you must address in order to live: Empty weapons and bellies a successful resistance does not make.

    7. The “Bad People” will torture and kill those who help you: Get used to the idea. Retribution killing is a standard totalitarian play. Try to avoid jeopardizing your allies to the extent possible, but know that they too will be swept into the whirlwind.

    8. The “Bad People” will torture and kill your family members: Sippenhaft ain’t just a chapter in Vanderboegh’s long-awaited novel. The KGB museum was filled with execution orders with notations that not only had the subject been killed per order of the Party, but that “special measures” had or would be taken against the victim’s family.

    9. You must be prepared to fight until victory or death: Once you go to the woods, you are there for the duration. The Baltic “forest brothers” stayed out until they were killed or captured.

    10. If you think it can’t happen in America, you are wrong. Ask Polish and Lithuanian Jews who were ground into dust by the Einsatzgruppen thought the same thing. So did the Lithuanians who couldn’t believe that the Communists under Stalin would hold their passionate patriotism against them.

    Almost all who believed “it couldn’t happen” died. A few survived by running into the woods, or by bearing up under the brutal realities of the Gulag, year after year after year. Each of them knows the single biggest lesson from Lithuania: naked, brute force can and does triumph over kindness, love of kin and country, and simple human decency — often for decades or more.

    Everything short of tyrannical mass murder is a walk in the park. Prepare for the worst and work back towards the inconvenient stuff.

    Picture yourself as a European Jew circa 1938. If your planning scenarios don’t address that situation, for all the help and good you’re doing in your preps, you are complicit in wasting their sacrifice. Other survival authors who don’t have that same restriction, actively scoff at the very tactics which address the issue of surviving tyranny. Cody Lundin does say “the woods will be a hotbed of thug activity,” yet fails to anticipate organized thuggery on the part of a malicious government establishment.

    If you travel to Africa or eastern Europe and speak to survivors about genocide, it becomnes clear
    all of the private criminal thuggery of the 100 years does not equal a tenth of the numbers killed by government organized mass genocide. No horror movie can terrify the human spirit like witnessing systematic human slaughter. It’s one thing to watch your family die in an auto accident or from an epidemic, natural disaster or hunger and yet another to helplessly watch unarmed people being hunted down like animals to be shot through the head with an AK, exploding cascades of blood, bone fragments and brain tissue into basketball sized pink clouds, or to be butchered with machetes, slowly beheaded or burned alive writhing. Witnessing such carnage changes survivors forever, especially when victims are your own people. You might get lucky, the evil ones may settle for killing you by simple starvation or introduction of a biowar agent.

    Localized natural disasters can be dealt with a credit card and some emergency cash. Well distributed wealth can soften economic collapse and social unrest, but tyranny is a whole other ballgame.
    While of low risk, it has extremely high consequences, like nuclear war and so is truly frightening, and must be avoided.

    In 1930s Europe few Jews read the ominous signals and fled early. Many of those who did survived. Few who stayed did.

    How different an outcome would have been if every Jew had a basic survival kit, and a rifle or handgun when the SS came to round-up village after village, and they knew how and had the will to use their weapon, shoot, scoot, escape, evade and fight on.

    The naive assumption exists in this USA that the BATF will come for your guns. While that could happen, is is more likely if it really does a criminal despotic government will just skip the legal plesantries, shut down PSTN, Internet and cellular networks, seal off commercial and business districts, to trap people at their workplaces and, using a ruse, require mandatory evacuation of residential areas to designated sheltering points. Imposition of martial law would enforce a shoot-on-sight curfew. Civilian firearms would be collected voluntarily at first as a safety measure, and the remainder seized during the ensuing weeks. People would be relocated to “safe” areas according to their threat profile.
    Anyone would be incarcerated at the first hint of resistance or “subversive” activity.

    Travel would be severely restricted to those with travel and work permits, who could demonstrate a need and afford high prices for rationed (or black market) motor fuel. This all happened during WWII. Today the real deal would be more decisive, efficient and thorough and the carnage may take only a month or three.

    If every prepared person established their own area of operations, infrastructure, weapons and kept a long-term ruck in the car, such a plan would not go easily. Hitler would not have been as successful in murdering six million Jews if a significant number of those families had refused to be compliant, like sheep, but instead fought back. A few did so, joined the resistance, and retreated deep into the forest.

    Planning against such a possibility today is not a threat to a lawful government, but a reminder and warning that murdering 100 million civilians in the name of whatever evil men do will not be as easy in the 21st century as it was in Eurasia during the 20th. As free men we are constitutionally empowered and tasked with defending liberty against tyranny. Molon Labe.

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