The right of the people to keep and bear arms isn’t just about our individual ability to act in self-defense or defense of others. As the Founders knew, the body of the people capable of bearing arms (otherwise known as the unorganized militia) is necessary to the security of a free state as well. Second Amendment attorneys Chuck Michel and Kostas Moros have done an excellent job of laying out the arguments of the Founding Generation in their recent law review article entitled Restrictions “Our Ancestors Would Never Have Accepted”: The Historical Case Against Assault Weapon Bans, but the government of Finland has also given us a very important reminder that, even today, individual gun ownership serves as a check on tyranny and as a means of ensuring that a free people stay that way.
Finland plans to open more than 300 new shooting ranges to encourage more citizens to take up the hobby in the interest of national defence.
It is hoped that shooting in the Nordic country – which last year became Nato’s newest member and which shares a 830-mile (1,330km) border with Russia – could become as popular as football or ice hockey.
There are about 670 shooting ranges in Finland, down from about 2,000 at the turn of the century. By 2030, the government plans to increase the number to about 1,000.
Jukka Kopra, a National Coalition party MP and the chair of Finland’s defence committee, told the Guardian: “The present government aims to increase the amount of shooting ranges in Finland from roughly 600-700 up to 1,000. This is because of our defence model, which benefits from people having and developing their shooting skills on their own.”
Incidentally, I think this is the first gun-related article from The Guardian that I’ve ever come across that doesn’t include a snarky take on gun ownership or explicitly promotes a gun control agenda. I can’t imagine that the left-wing paper would offer a similarly editorially-neutral position if it were, say, Donald Trump making this same announcement, but I’ll give the outlet a smidgen of credit for not immediately trashing the idea and instead allowing quotes like this to see the light of day.
MPK’s executive director, Antti Lehtisalo, said enthusiasm among Finnish people to defend their country was strong. “We have a very high will to defend the country.”
He said that after completing the courses, participants needed to practise their new skills on shooting ranges.
“One part of this training and education is of course education in shooting because people want to be part of this comprehensive security, so they’re coming to our courses and after that we need more shooting ranges.”
It’s heartening to see that at least one of our allies understands that even in a day and age of nukes in space, killer robots, and hypersonic cruise missiles, aggressor nations like Russia are going to have to contend with civilians who have both the means and motivation to defend their nation from foreign enemies, especially if they plan on occupying the country they’ve invaded.
An armed citizenry doesn’t just serve as a reserve force or potential guerilla fighters in case of invasion. It also stands as a measure to prevent any military misadventures that authoritarians like Vladimir Putin might have in mind. Finland is making the right move by working to normalize gun ownership and tactical training, especially in light of Putin’s saber-rattling. I only wish our own government leaders were as savvy to this tactical reality instead of trying to abolish our right to keep and bear arms in the name of public safety.. or worse, threatening to use nukes or F-16s against their fellow Americans if we get out of line.