As I write this article we are in midst of the strangest part of an election season –  when all the political stops come out. It can be a time of frustration for many Americans, because we see our country being torn across “party-lines” as we attempt to align our beliefs with one candidate’s set of philosophies vs. the other. At times like these I often wonder if most people really stop to consider the fundamental beliefs they actually hold, or if they are largely persuaded into assuming a “politically correct” way of thinking by their peer groups, their co-workers, their trade unions or the various biases spewed into our culture by the mainstream media. My fear, as an American, is that it may be the latter. And I believe this “politically correct” way of thinking is a serious threat to America, the sport of hunting and our personal freedoms.

Second Amendment - U.S. Bill of Rights

Second Amendment - U.S. Bill of Rights

Some define “political correctness” more narrowly, as the avoidance of using language that insults people who are perceived as socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. That’s not what I’m talking about here. And as someone that wants to protect the freedoms of sportsmen, I feel we have a duty to fight for our rights and beliefs, but also to be kind and respectful of others as we do so. If do not, we will surely lose.

In the context of protecting hunters’ rights, “political correctness” could be defined as the avoidance of seeking, telling or exposing the truth, so as not to disagree with popular opinion or offend any person, party, or interest group. To take that thought a step further – if a person is concerned with being “politically correct” and fails to seek, tell or expose the truth, they are likely living a life not based on solid foundational principles; but one that one that blows about and changes course with the social and political winds.

One of the U.S. Presidential candidates during this particular election year made a comment on the campaign trail about how mid-westerners “cling to guns or religion”. As a mid-westerner myself, I was struck by this comment. And although I perceived it to be condescending in how it was stated, I also believe it to be true.  Unlike the candidate who said it, I believe this “clinging” to be a very good thing for America.

Let’s face it, guns and religion are not viewed as “politically correct” or popular in much of today’s society – and are certainly not portrayed in a positive light by the mainstream media. However, many of us do place great value on guns and religion, treat them with respect and reverence and protect them with vigor – even when it may be unpopular to do so. That’s because our freedom to bear arms and practice our faith are based upon core, unwavering principles and inalienable rights that we know to be true, and good, and American. In this particular case, they are based upon the foundational principles found in our faith and The U.S. Bill of Rights.

The religion discussion is a big one, and this is not the proper article or forum to discuss it in depth.  So, for now, let us focus on the “guns” part. Specifically, on the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights – the name by which the first 10 amendments of the U.S. constitution are known.

The Second Amendment says this:

“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.”

Gun control advocates claim that the second amendment was written to protect the rights of various state governments to arm and preserve their militias – as opposed to protecting the rights of all citizens and protecting our right to possess arms for personal use and protection (which includes protection from the government itself). Upon further research into what the founding fathers were actually thinking, it becomes clear that they were in favor of protecting the rights of all citizens to bear arms. Let’s look at what the founders actually said.

In a first draft of the proposed constitution for Virginia Thomas Jefferson said

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

And in a letter to William Smith in November of 1787, Jefferson said:

“And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Patrick Henry, a man well known for his support of the protection of liberty said:

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”

And George Mason, during the debates on the ratification of the Virginia constitution said the following on June 14, 1788:

“…to disarm the people, that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Does this sound like our forefathers were concerned with the rights of state governments to arm their militias? I don’t think so. It seems quite clear that they were on the side of the people, protecting our rights to bear arms for our own use and protection.

If we don’t continue to speak out about the issues we care about. If we continue to let the media convince voters to buy into a “politically correct”, anti-gun, anti-religion, anti-hunting world-view; the very core values we hold and the outdoor lifestyle we love are at risk.

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, I will continue to be politically incorrect.  I will continue to speak out to protect our freedoms. And yes, I will continue “clinging” to my guns and religion. They are forever tied to my core values, and I hope they are to yours as well.

DuckBuckGoose – September 27, 2008