When I was a child, my dad would often spout a bit of homespun wisdom at me: “A job worth doing is worth doing well,” he would say. Sometimes he would even quote a little poem:
If a task is once begun,
Never leave it ‘til it’s done.
Be the labor great or small,
Do it well or not at all.
It is therefore probably my dad’s fault, as much as it is anyone’s, that I chose to take my firearms training seriously. As a new shooter, interested in self defense, I had this gut-level conviction that if a thing was not shameful to do, there was no shame in doing it well. I had an equally strong conviction that if it was worth doing at all, it was worth learning how to do it right.
And underlying all that was a deep, visceral horror at the thought of getting a life-or-death decision wrong – of losing my life to my own lack of foresight, of hurting or killing someone who did not need to be hurt or killed, of making a mistake that would reverberate down the edges of my children’s and grandchildren’s lives forever.
Not everyone feels such things, I understand. Yet for me, the ethics of owning guns of course includes a commitment to using them appropriately, safely, and – if necessary – effectively. This goes back to the idea that things worth doing are worth doing well. If it is worth protecting myself and my family (and it absolutely is!), then it is worth doing the work it will take to become good at it.