Adventurer Cork Graham seen here on a gunboat in Central America during the 1980s, when he worked with Salavdoran security forces to stem the flow of arms smuggled by the Sandinistas to their Communist insurgent allies in El Salvador.
Third Culture Kid is the label used to describe someone like me. During my youth, I was raised in a culture other than that of birth. Over the years, I’ve also lived and worked in a number of other countries that taught me how to connect with those from many nations, learn languages rapidly, and, above all, appreciate the precious quality of The Constitution and the uniqueness of the Second Amendment.
My first memories of life are of the Tet Offensive of 1968, specifically the May Offensive, or “Little Tet.” Missed by Walter Cronkite, Little Tet was so much more bloody than the one week earlier. My father, an engineer who moved his family with him to Vietnam, kept an M1 carbine during that time, in case the fighting spilled over the wall– or, as often happened, a “Saigon cowboy” jumped the wall and burglarized our home.
He purchased the weapon on the black market, common practice for expats in South Vietnam during the war. Everyone was armed, but not legally. If you were caught owning a firearm, you had to bribe the “White Mice,” one of Southeast Asia’s most corrupt police forces, of one of Southeast Asia’s most corrupt governments.
Jump to 1984, and I had just spent 11 months as an unwanted guest in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, held in three of their “re-education” prison camps on trumped up charges of spying for the CIA, while actually a teenaged photojournalist covering his first big story, the search for Captain Kidd’s treasure, and the possible existence of American MIAs held in camps.
Although, my arrest, jailing and release received front-page coverage around the world, it was the story that soon broke on the local in San Francisco that caught my attention. The city’s mayor, Diane Feinstein, was caught owning a handgun and concealed weapon permit, all while pushing for a complete ban on handgun ownership for the city’s residents.
Senator Feinstein had become the mayor of San Francisco as the result of the killing-by-handgun of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, so that might explain her reasoning for being such an anti-gun champion.
It doesn’t explain why she also armed herself, unless you understand human nature and self-preference: better me armed than you. Self-preference is a strong impetus in the animal world, and over the last forty years in Washington, it has sadly overtaken the original common sense and self-preservation that distilled the principles written down to define and defend a nation and its people: LIFE, LIBERTY, and PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
If we were to only look at the possible psychological reasons for Sen. Feinstein’s constant attacks on the Second Amendment, and apply them to me, I, too, should be a vehement anti-gun proponent. My great-grandfather shot and killed my great-grandmother, then immediately committed suicide with the same pistol.
When I was taken prisoner that night on a Vietnamese island in 1983, there were a number of fully automatic weapons fired over my head. And the swipe of the butt-stock from one of those AK47s turned the sight in my left eye from 20/20 to 20/80. Also, I had lived in Singapore, a nation revered by those who dream of big government, and touted by every anti-gun organization as proof that gun control works.
But, then there’s the Battle of King’s Mountain, where my ancestors, a Scots-Irishman, named David Graham, of Chester County, SC, and his sons, used rifles to beat the British.
Over the years—especially when I spent a year in a cabin in Alaska, coming to grips with memories of war and writing my first book—guns have kept me fed with the most healthy animal protein offerings from nature. And were it not for the firearms I carried in combat,
I wouldn’t be alive to write to you now. As for Singapore, one of the most modern nations, with the highest average quality of life in the world, the real reason for low crime is not the horrendous restrictions on firearms ownership, but its tight enforcement of its laws. Singapore is a dictatorship (I was reminded by an original episode of Star Trek censored by the government, where Captain Kirk rattled off a list of dictators, including Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew): a “benevolent dictatorship”, but a dictatorship nonetheless.
Even now, I wonder if I could be thrown in jail and caned on my next visit, if they knew that when I was nine years old, I secretly built and discharged a matchlock built from a Disneyland toy musket, a match, a Japanese Pachinko ball, and ground Estes rocket solid fuel—I’m still amazed I didn’t blow my face off!
Firearms are only as good or evil, or as decisive, as the one brandishing them.
Yet, every week, federal, state, and city lawmakers and politicians propose a Rubik’s cube of laws diminishing the Second Amendment–laws impinge on the God-given right and responsibility of every human to self-preservation.
It’s our responsibility to remember the purity and simplicity of The Constitution. That it’s a document intended for eons based on simple truths, and though can be added to, cannot, must never, be modified to meet the whims and agendas of political fancy.
To do so is not only counter to the vision of the founders of the United States of America, it also risks our sliding further down the slope of corruption and elitism that infests the governments of Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.