A fundamental aspect of the good news of the gospel is the message of liberty. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of freedom; the gospel of the Son of God is the gospel of liberty.” Men of God, both ancient and modern, have spoken on this issue repeatedly. This book analyzes what liberty is and how it applies to government.
photo credit: ~Tatankanuk~
Husbands and fathers have three primary roles in their stewardship: provide, preside, and protect. It seems from my personal observation that they are generally prioritized and proactively worked on in this order. Almost all men recognize the duty to work and provide for their family; most men do a good job at being the patriarch and being the leader of the family; and some take the issue of protection and defense seriously enough to fulfill this duty. In today’s world of outsourcing and delegation, though, it seems that most prefer to appoint the duty of defense to the police department rather than worry about it themselves. Political leftist fearmongering, Hollywood hype, and a general misunderstanding of the history and practical use of weaponry has resulted in a massively successful campaign to create an atmosphere in which very few people know how or are ready to defend themselves.
Joseph Smith—himself known for organizing a strong defensive force when faced with personal threats—once commented on this subject as follows:
There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has the right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)
Also calling those who will not defend their families cowards and bastards, the Prophet seemed to emphasize this basic duty of every man. A similar statement was unanimously approved for canonization in the “declaration of belief regarding government” in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
…we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded. (Doctrine and Covenants 134:11)
Note the conditional: we are justified in defending ourselves, our family and friends, our property, and our nation when another recourse is not available given the time constraints. This caveat perfectly illustrates why every family should be armed and knowledgeable in defense. Most rely on the police to defend them should something happen, but the average response time of a police officer nationwide is seven minutes. This amount of time, of course, is an eternity when faced with an immediate threat. The reality is that the police do not prevent crime at all—their job is primarily to write crime reports after the crime took place. Sometimes they even get lucky and solve a crime. But by no means are they a proper and adequate substitution for personal defense.
From what I’ve observed, fear seems to be the main deterrent in taking the necessary steps to become armed and skilled. First, there is fear of the threat itself. If faced with a physical threat, some would rather give up and die, throwing their life upon the mercy of the assailant. These seem to be the “cowards” the Prophet described—unwilling to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their family. The other fear is a fear of the weapon. This irrational uneasiness stems largely from inexperience and ignorance. When properly trained and upon implementing necessary security and precaution, a weapon inside the home is no more a threat than the matches in the garage or the swimming pool outside.
Ignorance has never been a justifiable excuse for inaction. Whether the subject is education, food storage, health care, self-defense, or anything else, it is our responsibility to seek the proper training, experience, and self-confidence that will help us better fulfill the duties we inherently have and responsibilities associated with our role as protector of the family. Women are not exempt from this; just as the police aren’t able to continually defend each individual, so too are husbands away at work or elsewhere on a regular basis. Thus, the individual right of self-defense is also an individual responsibility, and men and women alike need to equip themselves with the skills and tools necessary to successfully repel a would-be aggressor.
That aggressor can be a variety of things, from a needy drug addict to the government itself. As George Washington warned, we must be prepared to repel any and every threat we may face:
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government. (George Washington, via Quoty)
Brigham Young, who agreed with President Washington, also went further on another occasion with this thought in saying that self-defense is a commandment from the Lord:
We all believe that the Lord will fight our battles; but how? Will He do it while we are unconcerned and make no effort whatever for our own safety when an enemy is upon us? If we make no effort to guard our towns, our houses, our cities, our wives and children, will the Lord guard them for us? He will not; but if we pursue the opposite course and strive to help Him to accomplish His designs, then will He fight our battles. We are baptized for the remission of sins; but it would be quite as unreasonable to expect a remission of sins without baptism, as to expect the Lord to fight our battles without our taking every precaution to be prepared to defend ourselves. The Lord requires us to be quite as willing to fight our own battles as to have Him fight them for us. If we are not ready for an enemy when he comes upon us, we have not lived up to the requirements of Him who guides the ship of Zion, or who dictates the affairs of his kingdom. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)
Self-defense is one of the few inherent rights that can never be fully delegated to another person. Those who would prefer to shirk this right and submit themselves to an attacker are certainly entitled to do so, since it is their life. This attitude, though, is cowardly and irresponsible—even more so when that individual has other people for whom he or she is responsible. Oddly, we all go to great lengths to insure our lives and possessions, yet few take the proactive (and less costly) steps that would make such insurance much less needed.
Taking the time now to acquire the necessary tools and skills for defense will prove immensely valuable should they ever be needed. Like so many other items in the preparedness world, we pray that we never have to use these things in anything other than practice and proper recreation. But anybody who takes their life seriously—and those of their family members, friends, and neighbors—has a firm obligation to invest the necessary time and money in an effort to become better equipped to successfully repel any potential threat. When you’re faced with physical peril, all the previous fear, ignorance, and false trust in police will spell your demise should you be unprepared to use some sort of weapon in your own defense.
Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we can not be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference in 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? (Patrick Henry, via Quoty)