Several years ago Ramona and I had a remarkable dinner. We were guests of a university couple, both from California. They invited us to meet their friends visiting from the East Coast. The issue of guns came up: "Doesn't it worry you that a lot of people in Montana have guns?"
"Actually no," I responded, "it's like churches. Even people who are not religious prefer living in a well churched community. Likewise with guns. Many who aren't armed like to live among friends and good neighbors who are."
The spillovers of gun ownership by solid citizens are overwhelmingly positive. Only drugged, crazed people break into homes likely to be armed by competent women. That's one reason I'm so impressed with Hillsdale College. It helps build them, even into adulthood. Here's the context.
Hillsdale College is an independent co-educational school of 1450 students. Founded in Hillsdale, Michigan in 1844, it was and remains centered on our Western heritage.This is a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The curriculum stresses the importance of great books, the American Constitution, and the classical liberal principles of America's founders.
Hillsdale's Mission Statement pronounces: “The college considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law”.
Beginning with its creation, Hillsdale admitted women and blacks on the same terms as men. It was the first American college to prohibit any discrimination based on race, religion, or sex. It was an early advocate for the abolition of slavery and its seminary accepted ministers of all denominations.
Hillsdale was unusual when created in 1844 and has become ever more so. This June it will even offer ladies a summer camp, “Ladies for Liberty”. The Ladies for Liberty programs combine firearms training with a classical liberal arts education. Handgun safety, functionality, and operation are taught in conjunction with the fundamentals of clay target shooting.
Handgun instructors also teach safety fundamentals at home and away. "Spend evenings listening to Hillsdale College’s professors discuss topics such as the Second Amendment, the Constitution, and the liberal arts”. (There are also shooting camps for couples in late May and early September).
I thought of Hillsdale while watching a new movie about Winston Churchill in the beginning of WWII, The Darkest Hour. Churchill was steadfast in refusing to negotiate a settlement with Hitler. He recognized three great challenges to liberty, Nazism, Soviet communism, and Britain’s slide toward socialism. Churchill understood that stable free government is historically rare and always at risk.
The film includes Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons on June 4th of 1940 when the nation's continuance was threatened: “...we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”
This reminded me of Hillsdale’s rise to prominence in the 1970s when the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare demanded that Hillsdale count its students by race. Hillsdale’s trustees responded with two resolutions: One, the College would continue its policy of non-discrimination. Two, “with the help of God,” it would “resist, by all legal means, any encroachments on its independence.”
Hillsdale abides with its principle on campus and nationwide through its many outreach programs including its (often) five day “Lifelong Learning Seminars”. This year’s topics include the Federalist Papers, the Constitutional Convention, and Islam and the West.
Hillsdale also offers the free monthly publication, Imprimis (https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/). Each issue is an edited text of Hillsdale speeches by nationally respected intellectuals. Prof. Thomas Sowell of Stanford University exemplifies the quality of contributing authors.
In the March, 2013 issue of Imprimis Professor E.J. Erier, author of The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles, wrote: “Only an armed people are a sovereign people, and an armed people are a free people - the people are indeed a militia.” This is an observation not a principle. It is however valuable in illustrating how fundamental principle can be expressed with enthusiasm and enjoyment.