Volume 3, Issue 10 | July 2023
"God save the Queen, man." ― Joe Biden, current U.S. President
In this issue…
Recently, a member of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina shared some historical issues of the Tar Heel Libertarian from 1976. In the Tar Heel I would normally give a personal message myself, but in this month’s issue I would like to republish one of the messages from the Editor of the Tar Heel Libertarian. The message really touches on what it means to be a Libertarian, what Libertarian affiliates need to do, and how the LPNC affiliates can run candidates. The Affiliates, and the candidates they run, are the lifeblood of the LPNC. If you are willing and able, please consider running for office this year. Filing is currently open until July 21st and we would love to support LPNC members in their campaigns. If you are interested, please email [email protected].
-Ryan Brown, LPNC Chair
Of Nuts And Bolts … And Ballot Boxes (Tar Heel Libertarian August 1976)
Some important changes were made in the LPNC Constitution at the recent state convention. The delegates recognized that the state party (state officers and executive committee) can effectively do little more than provide assistance and coordination to the various local organizations. It is at the grass roots level that the Libertarian Party will find success or failure. A political party is built from the bottom up—not from the top down. Without organized community support, no number of national or state candidates will make this party succeed.
The state executive committee has the task of fostering a district organization in each of North Carolina’s eleven Congressional Districts. Chairmen Pro-Tem have been appointed in seven districts pending formal requests for affiliation. Delegates placed the specific responsibility for the building of strong districtwide organizations, and the starting of affiliated parties in each county, with the respective district committees.
This was a wise decision on the part of the convention. It will be the responsibility of each district, of each county, of each individual to give substance to the label...Libertarian Party. A political party is not a group of individuals across the state calling themselves such, nor is it newsletters or discussion groups. In itself, it is not the state board of elections recognizing you and permitting a ticket to appear on the ballot.
A Libertarian political party is dozens of individual groups spread across North Carolina, each entering into the political arena, attacking government regulation of our lives and offering specific proposals for change; it is each Iccal party building its credibility in the community as THE viable alternative to collectivist “politics as usual’’; it is Libertarian candidates running regularly (and successfully) in local elections; it is politicians and bureaucrats having to take Libertarian opposition into account when formulating new schemes to ‘‘save us from ourselves.”
The Libertarian Party is going to have to stand up in the defense of liberty and individual rights, whenever and wherever politicians seek to regulate our lives and appropriate our wealth.
The American people are fed up with government by edict. They are frustrated at watching their individual Liberties eroded away, and feeling powerless to stop it. The citizen wants the leech of bureaucracy pulled off his back and out of his pocket. It is the task of the Libertarian Party to articulate these frustrations, to win the support of the voter and to produce results.
The Libertarian Party is not setting out on a picnic, The future holds long hours, hard work, and a personal investment of time and money with no guarantee of immediate returns. The right of each of us to live our lives as we choose is what is at stake. That is a right worth fighting for, and worth fighting for hard enough to win.
The Libertarian Party is not setting out on a picnic, The future holds long hours, hard work, and a personal investment of time and money with no guarantee of immediate returns. The right of each of us to live our lives as we choose is what is at stake. That is a right worth fighting for, and worth fighting for hard enough to win.
-Thomas Ball of Chapel Hill, Tar Heel Libertarian August 1976.
Come join the movement, and advance Liberty in NC through elections.
We need candidates. It's time to register. We are here to help!
Liberty lovers! If you want to register to run for political office this year, 2023, it is time to do so.
Odd-year elections are for local races that have a huge impact on people's lives. Maybe you live in a place like Gastonia, where they close churches for feeding the homeless, or maybe you live in a place like Fayetteville where the town board tried to extend its own terms immediately after getting voted in. Maybe you just want to make sure your locality continues to run effectively and honestly, and the best way to do that is by getting involved directly.
Registration is open now, and will remain open through July 21.
Then reach out to let us know you're running, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might be surprised how much success you can have.
We need candidates. We have resources to help. But you won't know if you don't try.
Your rights, all the time. Nothing more, nothing less, no exceptions. Simple as that.
Welcome back to the third season of Liberty iNC, your Liberty-lynchpin, constitutional-crossroads, posh-porcupine-perspective podcast. This season, we have an extraordinary lineup of guests that some people are saying might be the best lineup in the whole history of podcasting, which we can neither confirm nor deny.
If you like it, let us know at [email protected]. And if you don’t like it, let us know then too. We welcome feedback, critiques, ideas, and suggestions. And if it's something you think might interest you in helping out, we have plenty of interesting stuff to do.
Keep an eye out for a new episode each weekend.
by Rob Yates
Last month I shared some of my broad observations after serving as your Communications Director for a year. This month, in part 2, I have a few more-concentrated things that I want to share, and I hope to spark some further conversations. There is one final part to this, coming next month.
Some specific observations on communication
Perhaps the biggest specific thing I've noticed over the last year in observing interaction between Liberty-minded folk and those who aren’t wired quite the same is that we aren't speaking the same language. Same alphabet, same words, sure. Even the same definitions (though not always). But not the same meaning, and this is crucial.
"Woke," "racist," "fascist," "groomer," and a whole host of other "verboten" words, are leveled in accusations of the greatest sin the accuser can imagine. Repeatedly, words are used to dehumanize those who don't share our perspective exactly. Pure (in their own minds) morality is the reward as these words provide absolution when a friendly cohort hears you say them, like a religious chant. And so they are beaten into the ground with misappropriation, overuse, and weaponization, until they are worthy of nothing more than an eye roll, maybe, in objective reality.
Yet these words and others like them hold substantial power in certain places where they are still uttered like a medieval curse at the heretics who dare not share the same religious convictions. Libertarians should not bend to these words that carry only the weight of the reactions they cause that we are willing accept, nor should we acquiesce to the demands of the missionaries who wield them.
However, we are foolish if we ignore the power some words have in the right place. We are prone to confusing being principled with speaking someone else’s language, and this makes it extra difficult to build inroads.
See, to get to that beautiful place where politicians are so inconsequential that no one wants to pay for their campaigns, we will need to change a lot of hearts and minds. And we can, if we work for it. We have the better message and application of our philosophy leads to better outcomes for everyone. Our Achilles heel is willingness to message to the audience. We have long been willing to respect and fight for everyone’s rights to have differing viewpoints. No we need to embrace the people who have those viewpoints, even as we categorically reject their current philosophy, and trust that we will win them over in the end.
If you want to find sympathetic ears to spread our message, you have to put aside all ego, ignore your argumentative impulses (something else I learned about Libertarians – wow, do we love to argue!), and revive the art of communication. Gaining someone's trust, deservedly, leads to more engaging conversations where the best ideas flourish on their own merit. I like our chances in that setting.
Our approaches to communicating and sharing our language have not led to anywhere near the level of effectiveness that we need to drive any sort of meaningful changes over time. To me, this clearly means we need to change our approach, dramatically.
Maybe a little bit of sympathetic understanding, or even undeserved compassion and forgiveness would itself present such a stark, but positive, contrast with how the other two parties operate that fear of reprisal would dissipate and more people would start speaking or language fluently. You don’t have to affirm actions you find wrong, or even pretend to like people. You just have to give them the benefit of the doubt, even when they might not seem to deserve your faith.
Egbert v. Boule
by Trevor Miles
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)
Those three letters should make any libertarian tremble with the fear of Constitutional rights being violated. They certainly make me tremble, despite the fact that I live in North Carolina, nowhere even close to the southern or northern borders.
Why am I writing this?
Well, I live within 100 miles of the US border, and in June of 2022, the Supreme Court provided a nearly impenetrable shield to federal immigration authorities operating within the 100 mile border zone when it comes to the 4th Amendment. In the case Egbert v. Boule, the court chose, in a majority 6-3 decision, to set the precedent that only Congress can authorize lawsuits against federal agents for violation of 4th Amendment rights resulting from immigration operations. This essentially means that no one can sue federal immigration authorities for violating their 4th Amendment rights, despite the fact that Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents (1971) provided for this exact remedy in a similar violation of the 4th Amendment by federal narcotics agents.
So, what is Egbert v. Boule?
In Egbert v. Boule, the plaintiff Mr. Boule owned and operated the “Smugglers Inn”, near the Canada-U.S. Border. Mr. Boule routinely worked as a confidential informant for the Border Patrol, and notified them when persons of interest were staying at the inn. On the day in question in 2014, Mr. Boule informed Agent Egbert that a Turkish individual would be staying at the Inn, and had arranged transportation. When Mr. Boule returned with the individual, Agent Egbert followed them onto the property, at which point Mr. Boule told Egbert to leave. Egbert then proceeded to allegedly throw Boule to the ground, and after determining the visitor's paperwork was in order, left. Boule then filed an administrative claim against Egbert, after which Egbert reported Boule to the IRS.
The district court ruled in favor of Egbert, and the decision was reversed by a panel of Ninth Circuit Appeals judges. After making its way through the court system, it was granted certiorari on November 5, 2021, with the Supreme Court later agreeing with the district court's decision, ruling in favor of Egbert and removing any avenue for Boule to receive compensation for the 4th Amendment violation.
What does all that mean?
Well it means that citizens lack any recourse to address violations of their 4th Amendment rights in the border zone, as we all know that Congress would never authorize a lawsuit against their agents of the state, regardless of how egregious the violation might be. By the way, nearly 2/3rds of Americans live within this border zone. It also means that federal immigration authorities have one less thing to fear when it comes to violating the 4th amendment, and essentially now have carte blanche to engage in the full scale victimization of all Americans within the border zone, including and especially those within racialized and marginalized communities.
What is the solution?
The solution to the issue is deceptively simple. Repeal the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, and replace it with a simple security check at ports of entry. In doing so, it removes the legal basis for the 100 mile border zone, and the subsequent violations of the US Constitution that have been upheld by the Supreme Court, which will allow for agents to be held liable for violating individuals rights.
I urge all Libertarians, and indeed all Americans who care about their rights, to push this issue at all levels of government and society, and make your voices so loud that you can’t be ignored.
On July 4th, Americans observe—and, I hope, celebrate—Independence Day.
Independence is just that—dependence on no one else. Sure, the leftists (excuse me for being politically incorrect; I meant “progressives”) tout the term “interdependence” (which means, after all, “dependence”) but true independence means others are not forced to provide for your wants, nor are you forced to provide for theirs.
Voluntary trade, certainly. Adherence to contracts, certainly. But there should be no government involvement in transferring, by force, wealth from those who have earned it to those who have not (but who are usually politically well-connected).
Independence is a core tenet of Libertarianism, and one of the reasons I’m proud to be a member of the Libertarian Party of Gaston County!
David Hoesly, Member of Gaston County Libertarian Party
Art by Karla
This month, as we fight to support Pastor Moses in Gastonia in any way we can, and celebrate the lawsuit that Joshua Rohrer filed against the city and the police in Gastonia, Noah Zenger has agreed to wait a month for his next brilliant comic so we can feature this gem, done by Art by Karla:
The LPNC affiliate team is seeking regional liaisons to assist counties or regions in becoming official affiliates of the LPNC. Liaisons are responsible for following up with local organizers, as well as keeping open communication with those already active. They serve as coordinators between local groups and the LPNC; offering guidance, sharing information and resources, and updating contact information. They should be organized, with strong communication skills, and the willingness to attend virtual, bi-weekly meetings and work collectively to give updates, resolve issues, and find new opportunities.
Meetings are every other Monday at 8 PM.
Please e-mail Kimberly Acer at [email protected] if you are interested!
The State on Your Plate: How Government Sabotages Small Farms and Censors Food
by Deborah Reese, Co-owner, Fox Knob Farm
I am a hog farmer. If you had known me before 2017, you would say, “No way, impossible, never in a million years.” It’s a story many people could tell, as I am by far not the first person to give up a career and comfortable life in the city to move to the country in hopes of realizing a farming dream. Most of us new farmers and homesteaders have an origin story that includes a health crisis of some sort and the dawning realization that our food (among other things) has been poisoning us our whole lives, making us sick and fat. It’s only after we try like heck to source good quality local food—a daunting task—that we realize the whole system is broken. The state is our enemy, sabotaging our ability to produce, purchase, and consume clean, quality food at nearly every turn.
One stunning example: As in many states, in North Carolina it is illegal to milk your cow and sell that fresh raw milk to your neighbor (or anyone). If you want to purchase raw milk, you first have to find a farm producing it (good luck!), then ask to buy their “pet milk” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) which must exclaim on the packaging “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” in letters at least one-half inch in height and “IT IS NOT LEGAL TO SELL RAW MILK FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION IN NORTH CAROLINA.” Alternatively, you can join a formal herd share program, in which you technically own part of the cow, or, as many do, drive across state lines to South Carolina where you can buy raw milk in a retail store. Meanwhile, in Europe, raw milk vending machines are readily available. Don’t get me wrong, the state’s involvement in agriculture in Europe is devastating also, perhaps even worse than in the U.S., so this example merely shows the seemingly haphazard way various governments toy with our food choices. You don’t have to agree with me about raw milk being fantastic for your health, but I’m sure we can agree that each of us should be able to choose what we put in our own bodies.
If, like me, you’ve discovered the miracle of the carnivore diet, getting quality meat—and lots of it—will be your top concern. The USDA in combination with each state regulates how livestock must be slaughtered and processed in order to be sold to consumers. The processing facilities that meet the requirements are very few, because it is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to create and maintain a certified facility. The state of North Carolina offers a slightly less expensive and time-consuming alternative, but if you choose it, you can only sell your meat inside the state, and even these facilities have a serious backlog. The result is a bottleneck in meat processing that has small producers waiting months, a year, or more, and driving for hours to get their animals processed. The rising cost of feeding an animal even one day past their readiness can absolutely destroy a small farm.
If you’ve gone down the food quality rabbit hole at all, you quickly learned just how terrible most of the meat available to purchase at the grocery store and most restaurants is. The animals are raised in horrible conditions, packed into a small space with no sunlight, standing on top of their own urine and feces all day, getting drugged and vaccinated to combat diseases caused by the conditions they’re in, and eating poor quality feed. These facilities are called CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. These are the animals tying up the USDA processing facilities, getting the federal and state governments’ stamped seal of approval, and driving down the price of pork. North Carolina is the third largest producer of pork in the nation, made possible by a legislature that has a long history of supporting industrial pork production, primarily by allowing them to store and dispose of their waste through questionable methods. Three lawsuits resulted in juries awarding over $500 million to neighbors of hog facilities , in 2018, but have made little difference.
Meanwhile, the small producers who raise their animals on pastures where they can forage, get sunlight, and naturally spread their manure across a large swath of land (which is exactly what’s required to improve our soil quality and therefore environment, a technique known as regenerative agriculture) are struggling to get their meat to market. It’s worse than that—they are struggling to stay afloat, usually working another job or two so they can afford to keep feeding their animals while they wait for their processing dates, each day watching whatever small profit they hoped for drain away.
To combat this problem, some producers are taking advantage of a legal loophole put in place for deer hunters and people who raise animals only for their own consumption: custom exempt processing. If you shoot a deer, you can bring the carcass to a custom processing facility (still subject to inspection, but a lot less) and they will cut it up for you and package it, to be consumed only by you, your family, and your non-paying guests. Each package will be stamped with the words “NOT FOR SALE.” The same can apply for a hog or beef you raise, or a hog that you purchase “on the hoof” and have a farmer raise for you. Few consumers realize this option is available, and even fewer would know what to do with a whole hog or beef if they had it. (As hard as it is to believe, there is more to a hog than pork chops and bacon, and more to a cow than steaks and ground beef.) This is the route we have been taking, which has been somewhat working, until we got some bad news.
Transporting a pig for slaughter is not only extremely difficult and stressful, it can impact the meat quality. It is far better for the animal and everyone involved to do the slaughter on the farm. One amazing young man does this job in our area: he drives his truck equipped with a crane to our farm, quickly and humanely kills the animal while it is happily grazing, then does the skinning and evisceration before wrapping the carcass and transporting it to our processor. His skill is truly something to behold. It all works wonderfully, so of course the state had to step in. We found out last week that the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is trying to force this young man to shut down his on-site slaughter service unless he can conform to the USDA’s Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide, which after you read it you know is an utterly impossible task (unless you have about a quarter million extra dollars lying around, and only clients who are willing to invest an additional amount to prepare for the unit’s arrival on the farm).
Let this sink in for a moment: we are raising our own hog for our own consumption, and we cannot legally slaughter it and have it processed by the people we choose in the way we feel is the most humane. We sure as heck couldn’t dream of doing that and then selling the meat to you.
Switching gears for a moment, have you heard yet about just how toxic industrial seed oils are? We were conned into believing something that began as an industrial waste product was “heart healthy” and better than traditionally used fats like butter and lard. Fortunately, most people are aware of the truth now, and want to go back to cooking the way we used to, with healthy animal fats. Butter is fantastic, but burns at higher temperatures. Lard and tallow are better options for higher heat cooking, but where can you buy them? (Beware the lard at the grocery store, since it usually includes the same hydrogenated oil that makes Crisco so toxic.) Lard is made by slowly cooking finely chopped pork fat until the liquid lard is “rendered.” I have vast personal experience with this, and use my lard in just about all my cooking (including the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted), and in my homemade body and face creams. What if you wanted to buy some lard from me? Well, you can’t.
Value-added products used to be a staple of farmers’ incomes. They would take the fresh produce and meats produced with care on their farm and make them into delicious homemade items and sell them. Jams and jellies, canned goods, pies, stews… all the things I would love to be able to buy from my neighboring farms to make eating healthy local food a little easier. But selling value-added products like these requires having a licensed commercial kitchen, an expense and bureaucratic nightmare that most of us can’t afford. You can go to the grocery store any day of the week and buy products loaded with poor quality ingredients; high fructose corn syrup, chemical sweeteners, preservatives, toxic dyes, MSG, GMO/glyphosate-sprayed grains, and a host of other bad things. But because I process pork fat into lard in my unlicensed kitchen, it would be illegal for me to sell it to you, regardless of whether you know me, have personally inspected my kitchen, deemed it clean and safe, and signed a liability waiver. You don’t have a free market choice of food available because we the producers must risk fines and even imprisonment if we sell you something the state has disallowed.
But the problems are much worse than your choices being limited and my ability to sell meat. We’re all familiar with “the invisible foot of government” as Milton Friedman put it, but most people do not realize the extent of the damage done by the state’s involvement in our agricultural systems. Rather than lecture you about how bad for health high fructose corn syrup is (I’m sure you already know that), I’ll use it as an example to explain how American farm subsidies and price supports destroyed agriculture, the ability of small farms to compete, our soil quality, and our health.
As Saifedean Ammous writes in The Fiat Standard: “By subsidizing the production of the cheapest foods and recommending them to Americans as the optimal components of their diet, the extent of price increases and currency debasement is less obvious.” In other words, as a tactic to mask inflation, the federal government has been pushing farmers to grow cheaper nutritionally-poor crops, and then convince the American public to eat them using false messages of health benefits while steering them away from more expensive and nutritionally dense foods like meat.
In the 1970s, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz told farmers to “get big or get out.” Billions of dollars of subsidies flowed almost exclusively to large farms that conformed, and the monocropping of corn, wheat, and soy began in earnest, requiring chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified high-yield seeds. This type of industrial agriculture results in soils that are depleted of their nutrients and biodiversity, whose toxins are washed into ground waters and streams, and the vapid harvests produced are largely processed into products like high fructose corn syrup used in almost all sodas and processed food. Junk food and beverage companies are happy to use HFCS since it’s cheaper than sugar due to the federal subsidies, the overproduction of corn inspired by those subsidies, and the high quotas on sugar imports. Most wheat and soy crops share a similar fate, being processed into health-destroying products that can barely be called “food.” Obesity, heart problems, cancers, diabetes, and other chronic diseases now plague nearly half of Americans.
What’s the solution? Eliminate the state from your plate, of course. Make Harry Browne proud and live as if you were free. Bypass the government and big retail middlemen and go straight to the source. If you choose not to farm yourself, find farms close to you that meet your standards and buy from them. And I mean your standards, not the standards set by the state for what may qualify as “organic.” Many foods labeled “organic” have been greenwashed and are little to no better than the usual grocery store fare. A farm may not want the red tape, expense, strings, and moral quandaries that often come with official certifications, but that doesn’t mean they’re not raising high-quality food.
I won’t lie to you, it can be difficult, highly inconvenient, and time-consuming to get your hands on quality local food from multiple farms week-in and week-out, spend the time to prepare it, and make the necessary changes in your diet and expectations. You may not be motivated until you have a health crisis of your own, but that day is (sadly) inevitable. Start at your local farmer’s markets, and buy everything they can legally sell you first. Judge the quality of the food you’re eating by taste and how well you feel after eating it; nutrient-dense food reveals itself quickly. Sometimes looks can help, but sometimes they can hinder. While grocery store pork is usually almost white, our pork is so red you can easily mistake it for beef, an indication our pigs have been raised on pasture with room to roam, as exercised muscles have a higher myoglobin concentration. Fruits and vegetables grown naturally may have odd shapes, sizes, colors, or blemishes, but that just tells you it’s not from a large producer who throws away anything less than ideal looking, and covered in wax or Apeel to mask the fact that it was harvested before its time and has traveled for days or weeks to get to the store.
Establish yourself as a trusted regular customer, eventually asking to tour their farm and if you like what you see, place a large order. Be prepared to pay the true cost of the food, not the state subsidized cost that you see in the grocery store, and pay in cash (or alternative currencies, if your farmer is able). Perhaps even pay in advance to help front the farmer the cost of the production (CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture, often a subscription service that may include delivery) and herd shares are designed for that purpose). Don’t be one of the many customers that only want to buy bacon; the farmer has a whole animal that needs to get sold if they are to stay in business. Consider it a culinary learning opportunity. Perhaps one day you can convince your local farmers that you won’t rat them out for selling you unsanctioned goods, and you can start buying what you really want to buy from them. If they have enough customers like you, they can stay in business and produce more, but they may need some encouragement. With friends you trust, consider buying a whole animal together on the hoof, and with some money up front, the farmer can raise it for you. Eventually you, your neighbors, and your nearby farmers will be part of a community and food ecosystem that needs no outside subsidies-with-strings and tolerates no outside interference. That may not be the complete freedom we’re all longing for, but it’s a darn good start.
Additional resources to explore:
You Have a Duty to be Well Regulated
by Justin Hinckley, LPNC Second Amendment Issues Coordinator
In light of Independence Day and my reflection on those who rose up in defiance of tyranny, today we will discuss the duty bestowed on us by the 2nd Amendment. Yes, America is perhaps the greatest experiment in self-governance, individualism, and liberty ever, but the reputation of the United States is not something us modern Americans should live off of, but something we should live up to.
Being an American should be an injunction to live a life of service and responsibility. Americanism should not be a matter of geography, ethnicity, race, religion, or political affiliation. It should be one of values, a challenge to be good enough to call yourself an American. So often our focus in discourse is that of rights, freedoms, and liberties. While these are essential elements of our nation, it is a disservice to have any discussion of the former without also discussing what is demanded of us in return. Thus, our focus turns to what obligations we have as gun owners when we exercise our right to bear arms. What responsibilities do we have? What standards must we live up to?
If you own a gun, but have never received formal training in its use, you are violating the spirit of the 2nd Amendment. Likewise, if you do not train regularly, you are ignoring your obligations of being an armed American. As those who have accepted the responsibility of carrying and owning firearms for protection and security, it is incumbent upon us to be well-regulated in the matter. You may think I have lost my mind and have conceded a key point to the anti-gun side just then, but what was the true definition of well-regulated in the 18th century? According to Jack Rakove, Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science, Emeritus at Stanford University and Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law at George Washington University, in separate analyses they have individually found that “well-regulated” referred to a state of proficiency and readiness during the time the 2nd Amendment was written. Synonyms of well-regulated at the time of our founding could be well-trained, well-prepared, well-armed, or well-practiced. It did not mean regulated by government. This means within the actual text of this sacred right, there is a directive to be fit, trained, and prepared.
Do not let my challenge to the gun owning community be perceived as an endorsement of government regulation or decree related to licensing or training schemes. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe one of the best strategies to combating future government regulation is to forge a corps of such highly skilled and competent gun owners as to reduce crime, death, and “gun deaths” through the elimination of accidental gun deaths and reduction in criminal murders. Of course, if my plan is to come to fruition, in the short-term we may have to accept more gun deaths overall with the potential for justified homicides to soar before criminals realize the general population is armed, trained, and prepared.
Nonetheless, to treat each gun death as morally equivalent is a disingenuous attempt at inflating gun murders, an attempt the modern media and many politicians already engage in. If 10,000 criminals died each year because they were killed attempting to hurt or kill someone instead of the current 10,000 murders that occur with a firearm each year, corporate media and gun control groups would still lump these numbers in with the ambiguous term “gun deaths” to discuss the *emergency* of private gun ownership and espouse the need for greater infringement. However, raw reduction in overall numbers is an unambiguous benefit we should all recognize, and I believe a well-regulated gun owning population would do this.
As we look at gun ownership in the modern era, we see that the individual definitions of “fit,” “trained,” “prepared,” etc. are vast. Similarly, we see many gun owners who do not take such obligations seriously at all. How many of those who profess to own guns for protection do we see are unable to engage in basic unarmed fighting techniques? Likewise if we paraphrase Sun Tzu and agree that the best fight is the one we avoid, then seeing such self-defense aficionados who are unable to run for more than a few seconds calls their dedication into question, as they cannot effectively retreat. If we accept that all rights come predisposed with responsibilities, and that the 2nd Amendment itself refers to proficiency and skill, surely we should all agree that there is a standard to be kept for keeping and bearing arms.
Now then, what might that standard be? It seems axiomatic if these standards are born out of a responsibility which itself is born out of a right, the standard must be self-determined. I generally agree with this analysis, insofar as it excludes the role of a governmental body in setting standards. Of course, it is the nature of free people to debate and cooperate in setting such standards. It is beyond the scope of this article to attempt to define a specific standard for all, but I will attempt to layout the steps to create one’s own standards and a frame to progress towards those standards to ultimately meet them. It starts with a deceptively simple statement; train regularly. This means a training plan with specific, measurable goals set within a reasonable time frame. This also means if you do not know how to make a detailed plan, just do something.
In my experience, a successful training plan incorporates a few key elements, no matter the skill level of the trainee. Use of a shot timer, dry-fire in between live-fire sessions, and benchmark drills performed at regular intervals are all required tools in a training program. The shot-timer is a tool to collect objective data which, in conjunction with target analysis, measures your performance and allows you to track your progress. Dry-fire is a form of homework that allows you to make consistent progress in between live-fire range trips, especially if your range trips are a less frequent occurrence. Finally benchmark drills such as the FAST Test, Bill Drill, Failure-to-Stop Drill, El Presidente, and Dot Torture are methods to practice skillsets and track your performance over time. Putting these drills on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly cycle for evaluation is a way to regularly test your performance without getting bored of or discouraged by specific drills. This technique is akin to regularly testing personal records in a weightlifting program or regularly running a specific distance for time in a distance running or sprinting program.
What about how to balance the real-world restrictions such as budget and availability? To incorporate these very real difficulties, training regularly might mean live-fire range time on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. I argue a quarterly range trip is the bare minimum needed to continue to progress in skill. Regardless of live-fire range time, dry-fire practice should occur multiple times per week. Dry-fire practice is a no-cost, low-time commitment activity. 10 minutes per day can show tangible progress for someone who currently does not dry-fire at all. Dry-fire schedules can be modified to fit almost any schedule or gear setup.
Throughout this discussion, I have discussed what is required of us as gun owners. I have made these claims and challenges mostly separate of the real-world considerations to employ them in an effort to increase awareness of what we all should be doing, regardless of what we are doing or are theoretically capable of doing at any given time. Throughout my life as a gun owner and regular conceal-carrier I have met my own goals and standards with mixed success. This not justify my inadequacy and it turns out criminals do not care at all how much dry-fire practice I planned to do, but skipped. So, in the interest of increasing the amount of training the Libertarian community does, start with something. Whatever you currently do, add one more thing or 10 more minutes per day or per week. You do not have to make a full training plan before you start dry-firing. You don’t have to have a monthly progress chart made in Excel before you start using a shot-timer or shooting specific drills. Just add something that you’re not currently doing to your training. Get up and do 10 perfect trigger pulls of dry-fire in the morning (or right now). Before you leave your house for the day with your gun concealed on you, do 10 draws with full presentations and good sight pictures (with an unloaded gun).
Then, put those on a clock and start trying to get faster every day. For those who do not currently train at all, if you start doing any of these things you will see huge improvements in your skill levels related to the employment of a firearm in a real-life situation. It could be draw speeds, sight tracking, first shot accuracy or speed, or any of a number of improved skills. Perhaps most importantly you will see your deficiencies and want to improve them so you have a better chance of living and winning in a life-or-death encounter.
This is the ultimate goal, greater survivability in deadly encounters. We should all be prepared to defend ourselves at a moments notice. Unfortunately, the time to make yourself prepared exists only in the months and years before your deadly encounter. In the moment when need arises to employ your gun, all you have is the training you actually did, the progress you actually made, the rounds you actually fired. So, start training now so that one day you might save your own life.
"The right to own private property that cannot be arbitrarily regulated or confiscated by the government is the moral and constitutional basis for individual freedom"
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