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I’ve told this story before, but I think it’s worth repeating. I started carrying on a regular basis over 25 years ago while I was a college student in Prescott, Ariz. I rented a room in the back of Bucky O’Neill Sporting Goods and worked part-time for J. & G. Sales, the firearms wholesaler. Guns had always been an important part of my life, and that was especially true in those days, as we were shooting practical courses almost every weekend and frequently during the week. I was participating as much as my school schedule and pocketbook would allow – taking advantage of my employee discounts, using the shops reloading gear and making a little extra tuning up single actions for the cowboy shooters.

In the midst of all of that, the time came for me to cast my first ever, in-person ballot. Having been overseas for most of the time since my 18th birthday, I had never actually walked into a polling place to cast a vote before. I remember parking at the National Guard Armory, shifting my .45 from my belt to a concealed spot under the seat of my ’66 El Camino, and going inside to vote.

As I was leaving, a nice lady stuck a little oval sticker on my shirt with a flag and the words “I Voted” printed on it. The little sticker gave me a surprising sense of pride, and I was feeling rather ebullient as I got back in the car and slipped the Colt back into its place behind my belt. As I did so, an idea struck me, and I took the little “I Voted” sticker and carefully placed it on the smooth stock of the pistol.

There was no provision for concealed carry in Arizona in those days, so I always carried openly. I still do so frequently and I still place my “I Voted” sticker on the stock. I like the message it sends and the responses it generates.

As Election Day approaches, it is important that we all remember the sacrifices that were made to give us this great nation and to remember that freedom isn’t free. We also need to remember that safeguarding and restoring that freedom is much more easily done with a vote than with a gun.

With all of the important issues and challenges facing our nation right now, supporting politicians based solely on their position on individual rights might seem myopic, but luckily there is a broader issue that every Second Amendment supporter can strongly stand behind. That issue is liberty.

There are clear choices on the ballot this year. On one side are those who see the Constitution as an obstacle to their objectives and something to be sidestepped, slipped past or redefined. On the other side are those who respect and revere the Constitution and the full Bill Of Rights. This election could easily be seen as a referendum on the Constitution itself.

Gun voters need to look closely at the races and make sure that everyone they know understands the gravity of the current situation. We must take immediate action to shore up our supporters and block out our enemies.

This is true not only of the politicians you’re sending to Washington, but your local politicians as well.

“All politics is local,” goes the saying.

Recent battles over concealed carry and self-defense have demonstrated the importance of having solid supporters in state legislatures and governors’ offices. It’s up to gun voters to force early retirement on anti-rights, anti-Constitution politicians across the country.

If you really want to impact an election, bumper stickers and yard signs are a nice show of support, but nothing moves a voter as much as when you look them in the eye and tell them that it is critically important that they vote for your candidate. If you do that with your friends, your family, your co-workers, everyone at church, all of your neighbors and the kid who asks if you want fries with that, your earnest, eye-to-eye endorsement has the power to make a difference. If you can convince a dozen or more of your friends to do the same, and they convince their friends, and so on … together you can change an election.

Now is the time. Start earning the right to attach that “I Voted” sticker to your sidearm and be proud to be a gun voter.

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