The following is an Op-Ed from Director of Outreach, Amber Parrow


When thinking about the Second Amendment, we often lump it into the category of a Constitutionally guaranteed human right and do not think about it any further. But why is it a basic human right in the first place, and does the idea of the Second Amendment go beyond the ownership of a firearm? This right transcends ownership because of the principals that would cause our Founding Fathers to establish such a right in place. We can discover all the benefits to the Second Amendment in Jefferson’s famous words, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


One of the most obvious benefits of the Second Amendment is that ownership of firearms provides for a way to defend one’s life or the life of those around you. This is a frequent selling point in the community, and it is very true: a firearm is unique in that it can bring leverage to an attack where the aggressor has an unfair advantage against the victim. Women in particular benefit from carrying a firearm for this type of leverage. In the day where drugs are prevalent, this is a way to bring balance to the odds against an assailant that has lost touch with reality and shows excessive aggression and at times superhuman strength (in the case of PCP).

The argument is that there are other means of self-protection available, and my belief is that everyone should know basic self-defense techniques to mitigate and defend if weaponry is not available. Pepper spray can be a great supplement for times when a gun can’t be carried. Tasers may also be an alternative, however they come with their shortcomings such as needing to be in close proximity to use. Knives also must be used in close proximity bringing the concern that an assailant within reach could take over the knife and then use it on the victim. Overall, guns provide a solid choice for self-protection and home defense time and time again.


One of the classic definitions of the Second Amendment is the protection against oppressive governments. This is something our younger generations, mine included, take for granted, because we have not lived in a time when war and political aggressors were up-front and personal. But the argument for the militia and any type of regular firearm training is mitigation. We never know when a country with an anti-democratic ideology will decide to attack, and if that were to happen in our lifetimes, will we have the training and weaponry to defend ourselves, or will we be starting from the beginning? Ukraine is a prime example of this point, they did not have access to weapons, but when it came time for the people to fight, weapons had to be shipped in and the people had to learn how to use them.

The other argument for liberty is if our own government were to ignore the built in checks and balances, toss out the Constitution, and try to put in place an oppressive form of government. This is the brilliance of our Founding Fathers, to have the 3-part governmental system, to give voice and power to the people and to keep those 3 parts accountable. The Second Amendment is a fail-safe in that the people have the means of defense if our government systems were to be overtaken from within. A recent example was New Mexico’s governor trying to overturn the Second Amendment in her state and could be facing impeachment for infringing on the Constitutional Rights of her constituency.

Pursuit of Happiness

At this point I have been preaching to the choir. You know the classic arguments and talking points. However, I want to present a new way to look at our precious right and this is the part of the Second Amendment that does not get enough press. Yes, we know there is a happiness and security that comes from having control over the defense of life and liberty, but I want to argue that there is a way to build happiness through firearms– by becoming a part of the firearm community.

There was a recent report released on the loneliness epidemic, and social scientists are proving that involvement with community groups is critical for our mental and physical well-being. However, what we don’t hear in the media is the community found through firearms, that there is a lot of good going on in our ranks. Gun clubs are present and available to join for learning and improvement of firearm skills. Competitions are plenteous and provide a family friendly environment and activities. There are numerous styles and disciplines of shooting so that you can try one out until you find the right fit, or learn one and then learn another, making this a sport to be enjoyed throughout your lifetime.

Additionally, the firearm community is a long-standing activity with many retirees that are highly skilled and active in the sport. At times this sport can be highly physical and at other times it can be adapted to disability. It is also the one sport where men and women can compete on a level playing field, as much of it is based on finer muscle control and not brute strength. This is great news for those looking for ways to remain physically active as age tries to slow you down. This also becomes a hidden gem of mentorship and skill for youth where parents need the additional support and youth need positive influences that go beyond their peer group.

The firearm community has so much to offer in building communities and meeting the need that all of us have in connecting to other people. In fact, I see this as an opportunity for all of us to provide a solution to the growing mental health crisis in our nation- which at its roots is that people are suffering because they are not making enough meaningful connections.

Our Job as a Community

First, our community needs to create welcoming environments. This may mean getting to know people that may not have much in common or share the same ideologies. It’s okay, and it’s important to recognize the commonalities that are found in participating in a sport or learning a skill. More often than not, our lives are made better by a little variety, it is after all the spice of life!

Second, our community needs to increase our community service efforts. For us specifically, that includes more training on the safe handling and use of firearms. It is critical that our neighbors know what to do if they come across a gun or keep one in their home. Child locks and awareness of proper storage of firearms will provide one more layer of prevention that will keep children safe from firearm accidents.

Third, is simply reaching out to our local communities. With handguns one of the most prevalent means of suicide, our community can get ahead of this mental health crisis and work to build welcoming spaces with caring people. One solution is being a place of support and purpose so that people who are lonely and struggling have a place to turn to for connection and involvement. Because in the end I think each of us know the happiness and support we have found getting to know each other, for service to our own circles, and how that connection keeps us sane through the ups and downs life throws our way.

It’s time for our community to focus on the pursuit of happiness, and bring communities that foster happiness through the shooting sports to our neighbors.