Grossman and the Samurai

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

This last week we had the pleasure of hosting Lt. Col. Dave Grossman at Artemis. 

This Pulitzer Prize nominated writer, speaker, and retired West Point Professor has educated, instructed, and motivated thousands of law enforcement officers, members of our military, and legally armed civilians throughout his career.

After speaking to over three hundred of Southern California’s law enforcement community in Pomona, Col. Grossman and I traveled down to Artemis for a little training.

During the drive the Colonel and I had the opportunity to talk about the development of training, and the overall mindset of the general public when it comes to firearms.

Col. Grossman is an unapologetic Second Amendment advocate. 

He is also an academic historian… which means his understanding comes with a historical context.

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As the two of us worked our way along the freeway towards Artemis he asked me what motivated Sandy and I to open up Artemis in the first place.

I told him we were passionate not only about gun safety, and increasing the chances of gun owners and law enforcement officers in surviving deadly force encounters with bad guys, but also in exposing new people to the gun community. 

We feel now… as we felt back then… that our unique facility could be used to expose new shooters… even those that are anti-gun… to the gun culture in a safe environment. 

Our hope was that a greater understanding of the gun, and the use firearms in a deadly force encounter would help others accept the awesome responsibility that goes with gun ownership as well as the tactics, physiological and psychological implications of use of force. 

Grossman nodded in agreement, then he said something interesting to me:

“You know Steven… In Japan during the age of the Samurai they were the only ones that had the authority to use deadly force. Even for self protection. Regular Japanese were not allowed to use deadly force even to protect themselves. Today there are still places… even western democracies that essentially embrace this misguided way of thinking. We as a society have rejected that. Each one of us is empowered to use deadly force for our own self protection.”

“We also have our own Samurai. The Japanese revered… still revere… their awesome warrior class, but these are heroes that have been relegated to history. We still produce an American Samurai class. The Minuteman, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Annie Oakley, Sgt. York, Audie Murphy, and Chris Kyle were all “Samurai”. 

“Our quintessentially American weapon is not the sword, but the firearm… and we are producing new Samurai with each generation.”

This elegant comparison stuck with me.

Those of you who have been through our CCW class know of the comparison I make of a magnificent Samurai warrior standing on a mountain working through his sword movements in one of his ceremonial practice sessions. 

To watch him is a study in movement. His stances and manipulations are precise and exquisite. 

Now replace the warrior with a fourteen year old boy holding a tube of cardboard from his mothers empty wrapping paper. He wails around with uncontrollable movements clumsily loosing his balance, but having a good time.

Most would want to think our weapons skills are closer in proximity to the Samurai, but must acknowledge we fall nearer to the fourteen year old boy. 

Still heroes give us motivation. 

They offer a comparison, and a goal. 

I want to be like “that guy” Sgt. York. I want to shoot like Annie Oakley. I want to have the warrior mindset of Audie Murphy. 

Perhaps I’m not their yet… but I know if he or she was able to get there… so can I.

The “Samurai” provided a standard.

Col. Grossman is right…. we do have our Samurai.


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