This one’s going to be a little more philosophical.

LTC Dave Grossman wrote an article a number of years ago that has taken the military and armed citizen cultures by storm.  In it, he posited that there are three kinds of people: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs.  Sheep are, according to the analogy, gentle, peaceful people who would never harm anyone.  Wolves are people like gangsters and terrorists, who prey on the sheep.  Sheepdogs are those who willingly protect the sheep, namely soldiers and police, though it has been taken to apply also to those who arm themselves on a daily basis.

Just like my earlier tirade about “tactical,” this analogy has become trite.  But the fact that every loudmouth with a CCW now talks about being a “sheepdog” isn’t the problem with it.  Even that it was spread around by a man who never heard a shot fired in anger, yet wrote extensively on combat and killing (with some conclusions not borne out by history) isn’t the problem.

Sheep act the way they do because it is instinct.  They live to eat, sleep, reproduce, and that’s about it.  Wolves kill for the same reason.  Instinct.  It is how they survive.  The fact that their survival and ours often conflicts leads to the necessity to kill them, to keep them in check.

Sheepdogs herd and protect sheep because they have been bred and conditioned to do so.  Their instincts have been honed by breeding and training to select for the behaviors the shepherd needs.

Nowhere do any of these animals make the choice.  That is where the analogy falls apart.  A sheep can no more become a wolf than a man can become a tree.  They behave as they do because it is determined by their genes.  A man behaves as he does because he chooses to do so.

I’m Not a Sheepdog (and you shouldn’t be either)

Read Next: I’m Not a Sheepdog (and you shouldn’t be either)

A peaceful man might one day succumb to temptation and commit murder.  A lifetime criminal might repent and put his crimes behind him.  These are conscious choices.  A man chooses to join the military, or the police force, or simply to arm himself.  A man chooses to do the right thing, or to do the wrong thing, but he chooses.  He is not a category.  He is a man.

You are not a sheepdog.  You are a man who has chosen, for whatever reason, to arm yourself.  There was a time when all free men were expected to be armed.  It is enshrined in our own Constitution.  “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  According to George Mason, who wrote that Amendment, “Who are the militia?  Why, they are every man.”  This is in fact codified in the US Code in more explicit language: 10 US Code 311 – “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.”

This is what makes these categories trite.  They make it more a matter of your psychological makeup rather than conscious choice.  Be a man.  Choose to do the right thing.

And leave the cute analogies to the amateur shrinks.