The other day I got a text message from my friend Jimmy.
“Do you know the opening line to ‘Sweet Caroline’??? ‘Where it began…’ Three years ago today, my friend!”
I knew exactly what he was talking about, but figured I’d play along.
Jimmy corroborated that, “yes sir, 1 p.m. today!”
I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve received such a message the past three years on – or around – September 29th. On September 29th, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, I met Jimmy at the range, I gave him a shooting class, he fired his first shots, and the rest is history.
Since Jimmy and I got together and he entered into the world of firearms, he’s gone in with both feet and hard. Recollecting the meeting, Jimmy says about it, “It seems like way longer than three years and 20-something purchases later.” Our story of connecting was totally by chance and on whims.
In June of 2020, my book Decoding Firearms was released. I was proud of it and wanted to share this news with as many people as I could. I took to an unofficial social media page for our town “Winchestertonfieldville,” and posted about the book. Surprisingly, a few people from the area actually bought it, and Jimmy was one of them.
“Why did you get into gun stuff?”
Jimmy explained to one of the other post-event champions that he never really worried about taking care of himself. The beautiful beast of a man stood there, towered over me – I am short though, mind you, with his giant hands out and said, “You know, there wasn’t a problem in my life that I didn’t think I couldn’t solve with these.” He shifted his weight, “But I’m older now and things are a lot different. 2020 was an eye-opener, and it was then I knew it was time to get armed.”
Exhaling a nice cloud of smoke, Jimmy looked towards me and said something about me ruining his life. It was during that uncertainty in 2020 when he saw my post on the Winchestertonfieldville Happenings page. After getting the book, he reached out and asked me if I still taught lessons and if I was still in the area. The August 29th message read:
New to guns so I bought your book, which I started reading today. I believe I found out about it in one of the Winchestertonfieldville FB groups, so I thought I’d ask if you still do instruction, or if you had any local recommendations…
30+ pieces of correspondence later, we consummated our teacher/student relationship the following month. However, that relationship did not last long, because Jimmy quickly became a good friend…and fierce advocate for the Second Amendment.
The following spring in 2021, I ran into Jimmy at a DC Project fundraiser. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mrs. Jimmy. We exchanged pleasantries and Mrs. Jimmy said, “You! You’re the one who ruined my husband!” She was joking. We all joked. I think Jimmy joked about some firearms he bought that she did not know about. We all laughed – some nervously. It’s all par for the course. Then he told me, “Ya know, I’m thinking of becoming an instructor. I want to teach people like you taught me. What do you think?” I told him to do it! Hands down, just do it. Mrs. Jimmy gave me a sideways glance, I just shrugged it off, but we did smirk at each other.
Where’d that lead Jimmy next?
New Jersey has a funny way of making instant advocates and activists. Does the Garden State have magic grits? Well, I’d say so, because many who get involved quickly find out how draconian and awful the government and laws are. Those grits don’t need to cook long. Jimmy got sucked in. When it was time to testify before the Assembly last year during the “carry-killer” legislation, he was there petitioning our government. I’ve read countless letters to legislators he’s sent me to take a look at, and he stood his ground against a county official trying to negotiate his rights away when getting a permit to carry.
The gun-curious turned student turned instructor turned activist is enacting real change for the betterment of the Second Amendment. He also ran for office in a local Winchestertonfieldville race and ended up getting elected!
This is a story about Jimmy and him sending me annual reminders about when he says his life changed. I didn’t do anything special. I just did what I do. I got the call to train someone who wanted training, we met up, I gave it my all, and sent my student on his way. I don’t know if I did a “good” job or not, but the check cleared anyhow. And frankly, Jimmy probably couldn’t say so himself at the time either, since he had nothing to compare it to. In retrospect, maybe we could ask him about the training, but maybe I don’t want the answer. At the very least, I did get Jimmy past the finish line on 101-level training.
What I’m proud of is that I now have a genuine, lasting friendship and that Jimmy has decided to try to enact positive change to promote the Second Amendment. He’s become a true ambassador and anyone he encounters who’s interested will get the fully Jimmy treatment, coaxing them into participating in the restoration of our civil liberties. That’s the same attitude we all need to put out there concerning the advancement, education, and preservation of this right of ours, because we’ll never know the tsunami we can create from the flutter of our wings.