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I’ve had a long internal debate about whether to write about this publicly, because it goes to the very heart of my own reasons for gun ownership and in Canada, there’s a degree to which that’s  always somewhat tenuous.  We have no second amendment; ownership of firearms is largely seen as part of a hunting and sporting heritage, which is certainly a big part of Canadian tradition.  This country includes vast stretches of wilderness, huge beyond the ability of most people to truly conceive, and in that immense and often hostile landscape, we have managed to survive and to thrive, often in no small part as a direct result of those hunting and sporting traditions.

But in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris – and it is not to be overlooked that France is one of Canada’s parent nations and the ties between this country and France should not be understated, especially now – I feel that this is the moment for me to discuss my core values in regards to firearms.

We live in a beautiful, peaceful, inclusive, and wealthy society here in Canada.  This morning I sat comfortably in a cafe with my wife, considering my work and talking about our plans for the winter; we thought about where we might store our boat now that the marina we used is closing, and whether we’d go out for dinner this weekend.  People filtered in and out of the cafe.  We watched a small group of young people, clearly members of some kind of choir, order coffee and discuss a performance.  A woman at another table casually flipped through a book, absentmindedly tapping a stir stick on the rim of her coffee cup.  When we got up to leave, someone held the door open for us, as we’d done for someone else on the way in.  Everyone in the entire building had arrived in their own car, and judging by the parking lot, everyone’s car was built in the last few years.  Air conditioning and heated seats for everyone at the touch of a button.  Life here is very, very easy.  Compared to most of this planet, living here is like living on a perpetual massage table with a dozen attendants making sure you never need to get up.  The average Canadian is immersed in a level of wealth and luxury that the Pharaohs could scarcely have conceived.

And that is why I not only own guns, but train, regularly and extensively, to shoot precisely, accurately, under difficult conditions, in the dark, from awkward positions, while wet, cold, tired, and uncomfortable.

Is the connection unclear?  Then let me connect the dots: this ride won’t last forever.

I believe that we cannot count on the continued, uninterrupted existence of this beautiful, middle-class utopia.  I believe that there is a day coming on which some of these luxury couches we’ve all been lounging on will turn to ashes beneath us, and the real world will break in.  Violently.

That reality has been brutally forced upon our cousins in Paris in this latest wave of attacks.  Despite the recent Charlie Hebdo terror, the sheer scale of this abomination and the utter indifference to target selection still manages to generate shock.  The people murdered by the sick, pathetic sadists behind these attacks could not even have been tangentially linked to specific actions conducted against anyone in the middle east; they were targeted solely because they were western civilians.  Many of them were young, barely more than children; all were undeserving of this horror.

And that is why I have chosen to admit my true motivation for the massive investment I’ve made in firearms, firearms training, and combative training: I believe in the need for a hardened nucleus at the core of our soft society, to preserve the martial skills and, perhaps more importantly, the will to engage in ruthless, unapologetic violence in the defense of our lives and of our way of life.

We cannot simply leave this duty to our military and law enforcement organizations; while we can be immensely proud of the truly inspiring actions of the Canadian Armed Forces both at home and abroad, and while Canada’s many law enforcement personnel have set an example for the entire world with their commitment to service and integrity, we must as citizens bear responsibility for our own continued safety.  No matter how tempting, we cannot all lounge on the couches, fat, lazy, and unaware of the dangers growing outside.

My position, therefore, is simple: be a part of the hardened core.  Stay alert, stay ready, stay strong, stay committed.  You may never be called upon to protect your family or your home.  But you may be called upon to pass on those skills, those beliefs, and those abilities to the next generation.

Because even if you never need to survive the hostile encroachment of the brutal outside world, mark my words: many Canadians will face that peril, and that moment gets closer with each passing day and each new atrocity.

Do your part, hone your skills, and be the shield of your home and your family when the time comes.

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