I received this in email this morning, forwarded from a friend. I liked it enough to ask the author for permission to post it, which he graciously granted.
Fear Of A Black Rifle
By John John Johnson
Over the years, Americans have been slowly conditioned by their media, news outlets and politicians to fear firearms. While there is an obvious reason that so much money and psychological spin is used and expended to demonize them, most fail to consider why they are afraid of guns. The very sight of a gun can cause an unwarranted panic for some. Chief amongst these icons of fear and dread is America’s own 'little black rifle’; the AR-15.
No other common rifle produces such a strong reaction in people; you either like or you don’t like an AR-15. There isn’t much space for lukewarm aficionados. However, much of the American public’s fear of the Black Rifle is due to cultural conditioning and the end result of a near half century of anti-gun propaganda. Eyes go wide and whispers get uttered under cupped hands when the the 'Evil Black Rifle’ (EBR) - sometimes mistakenly called an 'assault rifle’ by it’s detractors - is produced for the uninitiated to see.
While it’s use in actual U.S. crime has rarely been reported, the Black Rifle remains a token of freedom to some and the ultimate expression of American oppression to others.
The truth though, it’s just a black rifle. It is a tool like any other that man has created, but we simply don’t see it as such since it is used for protection, hunting and military action. I’ll not mince words here, a rifle is designed to kill and eliminate threats, two legged or four legged, for food or to sustain life - that’s it’s function.
Now that the backdrop has been outlined, I’d like to share with you my own story about the Black Rifle;
Nearly a week ago, it was with great trepidation (and a little shaking) that I placed the last piece onto my new Black Rifle. I had just joined the upper receiver to the lower - completing the final phase in a month’s long process. My AR-15 journey had also included me building my own lower receiver. For the first time in my life, I assembled the rifle’s trigger assembly - something I wasn’t allowed to do when I was in the Infantry. Messing with the trigger was specifically reserved for the unit’s armorer - so it was a mystery for me. Now, 20 years later, I was about to hold again, albeit a variant, the weapon that demarcated the passage from my youth to manhood.
To an Infantryman, the M16 (now in it’s incarnation as the M4) is the main tool of his trade.
At the military university that I attended, we were also issued an M-14 - so I was extremely familiar with both rifles. While I know the value of a M-14 as a long distance shooter, I still can’t shake the feeling I got the first time when I was issued my own M-16. It meant something to me. That particular rifle, specifically, I know backwards and forwards. Even after twenty years, my hands instinctively knew how to break the down it’s bolt assembly without even having to look at a manual or go online for instructions. There is a reason. By the time that a combat soldier earns the coveted blue Infantry chord, he can literally break that rifle down blindfolded.
Stated, when my AR-15 project was complete - needless to say - I was extremely happy. I took a picture of the finished rifle and mailed it to my good buddies. Surely, they’d know this was a big deal for me.
What surprised me the most, was that hardly anyone called or contacted me back. Obviously, they knew this was important to me, right? A day or so later, my normally talkative friends had barely said a word - only one of them responded by phone.
A little muddled, I posted the image to the social networking site that I use. Most of my friends are family members or people I’ve known since high school. These are the same folks who I shot with as a kid during hunter education classes and on the weekends at our family farm. Ironically, no one said a word at first. Matter of fact, the only person that said anything positive was the guy who instructed me on it’s initial build. The one comment I received on the photo that was from a friend or family member, happened to be a high school buddy who had joined the Army years after I left the service. He remarked; ‘I didn’t know you were that into guns, guess it shows you don’t know someone after twenty years.’
The impact of his tour in Iraq had led him to radically change religions and then join the Democratic Party. On the photo’s comment, he went on to talk about how they had bigger guns than the M4 in his unit (specifically calling it a 'small gun') and how those ‘foot soldiers’ didn’t know what hit ‘em when the cluster bombs struck. His statement was a bit of guilt trip and meant to put down on me for posting the photo. I knew he intended it as an underhanded comment, but the guy had been through allot and I didn’t want to call him out on it. I just said ‘Thank you for posting what you think’, and with that, my previous excitement about my black rifle build dampened further still.
It was then that it dawned on me something was wrong. Despite the fact that many people I know are aware that I’m a shooter and a re-loader (subjects that they happily discuss this with me), they had turned cold for some reason. I had ventured into some unknown dark and bleak territory when I had posted my project picture online. My happiness couldn’t overcome the public rejection. The cool reception told me that I was not immune, nor were the people I knew, to the con-job that the anti-firearms establishment has pulled on America. This once great citizenry had held down the British army using guerilla warfare and literally fought to escape the slavery of Europe. They didn’t do that by being peace-corp activists, they fought to be free.
Yet today, you’d hardly know it ... and the feelings that the Black Rifle elicits when some American’s see it, proves my suspicions. I don’t fault them and I understand why they are this way, but still, really? Come on ...
That’s a false perception and it's based on a lie - point blank.
One should consider that only a free and sovereign individual has ever born arms throughout all of history. There was a time in this country when each household had to have it’s own rifle and each man of able body drilled on the weekends, atleast once a month, to know how shot and fight. Sadly, people have forgotten this, just like they have forgotten what it truly means to be a free person. This is not the pseudo freedom to chose cars, hair color or pick out a movie, but the freedom to do what you want because your society respects your individual rights and knows that you are a person who is responsible with his own actions.
Which brings me back to the Black Rifle. If our forefathers and mothers could have seen an M4 or AR-15, I doubt they would have been as fearful as their predecessors seem to be. The very fact that I can build, make and possess my own Black Rifle, is due to the very sacrifices that they made. It hurts me that other Americans can’t see that or have little appreciation towards them. In truth, most Americans don't even know what it means to even be American. Our nation appears to be at a precipice, teetering into a cultural cognitive dissonance. This is mainly due to the fact that our society has eroded into a fearful, nearly childlike, immature populace - and regrettably; a citizenry unfree. They are not the people our forefathers had intended them to be.
This being said, I’ll be happy and proud - at least inwardly, that I hold the rifle that marked my own transition from childhood to manhood. Though few others can share or see what that exactly means to me, it still matters none-the-less. My hope is that people will get over their fear of the Black Rifle and will embrace, again, the responsibility that it’s ownership demands and entails.
Maybe then, and only then, will people learn what it truly means to be American again.
(John Johnson may be contacted at johnATHellerfoundation.com )