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Give Me Liberty...

Jon Stram's picture

Once again, we’ve been brought face to face with the specter of an evil man taking the lives of a large number, 49 at present count, of our fellow human beings and fellow United States citizens.

Once again, we’re faced with the harsh reality of evil or misguided politicians or fellow citizens using a horrible event in the attempt to further their agenda.

What is that agenda? At its core, it is the attempt to control, through the taking away of liberties, from those with whom they disagree or fear.

I first became aware of this battle in the 1960’s, as I entered my teenage years. Now entering my 60’s, I have been constantly aware of this ‘Battle’ for over half a century. In all of this time, the arguments and battle lines have barely changed.

On one side, you have people who would gladly sacrifice their individual liberty for the promise of a government that will protect and provide for them. Ben Franklin had something wise to say about that. Look it up.

Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

To them, I would say: I won’t try to tell you how to live your life, enjoy your liberty, or pursue your happiness. Allow me the same freedom.

I know I’m ‘Preaching to the Choir’. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fellow hunter, recreational shooter, and/or gun owner. You already believe in protecting your constitutional rights, or at least, you should.

Even among our ranks, there is considerable disagreement on many topics of mutual interest, and in a free society, that can be a good thing. Where it does us harm, is when we try to force our sincerely held opinions on our fellow gun owners, and in the course of events, we limit or remove their rights or liberties.

Right now, we are engaged in a fight to protect our legal right to possess and use what some refer to as ‘assault weapons’, ‘automatic rifles’, ‘AR’s’, etc. When I discuss the facts of the argument with a non-gun-owner in person, I don’t mind. Often, it is purely a matter of educating them, and if after doing so, their mind is not changed, then I’m alright with that. As long as they do not actively pursue the removal of my rights, freedoms, liberties, and pursuits, I’m fine with that.

"AR" does NOT stand for "assault rifle" or "automatic rifle." AR-15-style rifles are NOT "assault weapons" or "assault rifles." An assault rifle is fully automatic -- a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934.

However, when I’m talking to a fellow hunter, shooter, or gun owner, and while defending their preferred sport, they condemn other forms of hunting, shooting, collecting, or whatever, I will admit – It bugs the heck out of me!

I enjoy all forms of shooting and hunting. You name it; at one time or another I’ve done it, and they’re all GREAT!

At this time in my life, though, I live on an island in Southeast Alaska with my beloved wife. Here, we don’t have brown bears, grizzly bears, or moose. What we do have, is a decent population of Sitka black-tail deer, and a five month long deer hunting season. We are allowed to use a wide range of hunting tools. What my wife and I have chosen as our favorite island hunting tools is what you know as an AR15 rifle. My wife has hunted with me since the 1970’s, and has used a variety of rifles – a Remington 308 Semi-Auto, a Winchester 30-30 lever action, and a few bolt action rifles. After teaching her to shoot my AR, she chose to carry that rifle hunting with her last year, and fell in love with it. This year, when she wanted a new hunting rifle, her choice was an AR, hands down.

I know, some of my fellow hunters would question her choice for a large variety of reasons, and you’d have good arguments. I know all of the pro’s and con’s.

However, it is her choice. Her pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. She infringes on no one. Her choice harms no one. You will not read about her being involved in a terrorist activity. She has no criminal record. She has been a registered nurse for almost 40 years, and in her career, she has taken care of everyone, from one pound premature babies, all the way to 100 year old senior citizens in the last stages of their life. She is one of the most loving and caring people you could ever hope to meet.

She also loves to hunt and target shoot. And she has made the same choice in firearms, as millions of our fellow Americans have made. The AR15.

Adaptable, adjustable, and highly suitable for customization – that’s the AR! A flat top with a rail, and quick detachable mounts. You can successfully use a variety of sights, from iron sights, to peep sights, to red dots, holo sights and any type of telescopic sight you could imagine. Take off the upper, change calibers, barrel lengths, add a light, a bipod, a variety of slings, an adjustable stock, and you’ve completely changed the character and use of your firearm. You don’t even need to be a gunsmith to learn how to make many of your own alterations and adjustments. It’s easy to see why, in the last 50 years, the AR15 has become an American favorite.

Finally, don’t be taken in by the argument that the AR15 is merely a military weapon, designed only to take human life. Every firearm innovation, from the wheel lock, to the flintlock, to the percussion cap lock, to the rifled barrel, to the bolt action rifle, and finally the semi automatic, fully automatic, and select fire mode, were all originally designed for military use, and then were refined and adapted for civilian use. That same argument could have been used in every age of man, but I dismiss the validity of that argument, as should you.

I’m tired. I’ve had to fight this battle for far too long. I am tired of a presidential administration, whose main agenda seems to be to control my every thought, my every action, and mold me into the type of person that they think I should be. It won’t work. I live in Alaska. Not Hawaii. Not Washington, D.C.

I live 20 miles from town. I use a boat and my ATV as much as I use my pickup truck or one of my old land cruisers. We have no police force, no jail, and we rarely need either, in my opinion. Almost everyone I know owns and keeps a variety of firearms for various purposes. Most of us hunt for our food. We all have different ideas about what the best or most appropriate firearms are for our particular uses.

Those are some of the joys that come with being a free American, living in one of the best nations ever to exist, in one of the best times to live in the history of this world! And I do enjoy it! I think that my little corner of Alaska is one of the nicest places to live in the whole world.

I know that this is not the place for everyone. I have children who live in Oregon, and they seem to love it there. At least, I hope they do. I have a daughter who lives near Orlando, Florida, and I know she loves it there. I have friends who have lived in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and other highly populated places. I understand many people love to live in big cities, and I’m happy for them. I wish them the best.

We’re not completely isolated from the rest of the world, though, even if I live on an island in Alaska. Believe it or not, I have a computer! I have a TV with a satellite dish! And I’ve had to watch and listen as politicians thousands of miles away, sit in Washington D.C. and conspire to take away my rights, and my means to life, liberty, and my pursuit of happiness.

You see, those far away politicians don’t run my life, and my only desire is for them to stay as far away from me as possible. They didn’t build my little one bedroom cabin. They don’t go fishing with me, or help me hunt for my food. The regulations and laws they try to put into place don’t help me, for the most part. They strangle me. If it were up to many of them, they’d outlaw the very tools I use to feed myself and my family, defend myself, if need be, and pursue the happiness that I was told back in grade school was my God given right to pursue. Their regulations, formulated so far away, mostly by politicians who have never set foot in Alaska, or in many cases, any part of the natural world, have devastated our local economy and way of life.

I’m sorry. I’ve gone on way too long, and I hope I haven’t wasted your time. I hope each and every one of you is able to pursue your own individual happiness to the utmost of your ability. I know it’s not the same for all of us. I’m glad for that! 

Live and let live, unless you happen to be the critter on my dinner plate. Make your choice, live as you desire, and serve God to the best of your ability. That’s what I try to do. Golden Rule – Do unto others as you’d have them do to you. Please, Mr. Faraway Politician – just follow that one rule, if you can do nothing else. Don’t try to put me, my wife and children, and my friends, in your little box. We just won’t fit!

Until next time, may the good Lord bless you richly in all that you do.

Good Hunting!