Why I’m not a Sheepdog
There are many different elements to gun culture. We can discuss ballistics, sectional densities, and coefficients. We can argue the best holster material, firearm trainer, and defensive ammunition til the sun rises. These are elements of gun culture. One of the most important pieces of gun culture is mentality. Mentality is basically a subsection of concealed carry, which is already a subsection of self-defense. When you discuss self-defense and mindset the term sheepdog is often thrown around. This has happened more and more since the opening monologue of American Sniper.
The sheepdog mentality states there are three kinds of people. The Sheep, who are the average everyday person. In the sheepdog mindset these people are unarmed and do not take self-defense seriously. Then there is the sheepdog, the protector of the sheep. The last category is the wolf. The wolf is the bad guy. He eats sheep. As far as I can tell this entire concept was derived by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and his work.
Types of Sheepdogs
The sheepdog can go one of two ways. Police, military, first responders can make a fair argument for being sheepdogs. If you fall into one of those categories I won’t argue with you. In the gun community. however, the term sheepdog can be given to anyone who carries a gun. This term is often self-given. An accountant, a carpenter, delivery man, anyone, and everyone can be a sheepdog, you just need a legally carried gun.
The problem I have with this term is that it implies some sort of duty. A real sheepdog has a job. He is fed, watered, and given a place to sleep because he protects the sheep. He has a duty to the sheep. The term implies also implies some form of authority over the sheep. A real sheepdog herds the sheep. Without a badge, you have zero authority. You also have zero responsibility to the ‘sheep’ in this metaphor.
Just be a Dude
I’m a normal guy. I have no authority over anyone besides my five-year-old. I have no duty to protect anyone. That’s not saying I wouldn’t, it’s saying I don’t have to. The term sheepdog is an ego boost given to people who carry guns. I get it, I understand it, it’s addictive. You don’t have to really do anything to be a sheepdog except carrying a gun and call yourself a sheepdog. It makes you special, it makes you a protector of the weak. All without having to deal with the nastier parts of being a cop or a soldier, or an EMT, or a firefighter.
I preach against the sheepdog mentality for two reasons. First, it creates a dangerous mindset. The term sheepdog implies you are the good protecting the sheep from evil. This mentality says that violent situations are always clear cut. There is a good guy, a bad guy and a victim. The truth of the matter is that the world is rarely black and white, it’s almost always shades of grey. This mentality could lead some good people to make bad assumptions. Bad assumptions get people killed. The police, the prosecutors, and society doesn’t care about your good intentions. Maybe you assume that someone’s a sheep and you get got because you made a bad assumptions. Maybe you think someone’s a wolf and you pull that trigger, and now you’re in prison with real wolves.
The next problem is the mentality it creates. If you are a sheepdog then someone has to be the sheep. This places walls between you, and them. You may begin to look down on the sheep. You consider them the lesser. This creates an us versus them mentality.
As a concealed carrier your goal isn’t to protect your community. Your goal is to protect yourself and your family. The media has long tried to convince the world concealed carriers are just wanna be cops. This sheepdog mentality feeds into that stereotype. I carry a gun for the same reason I wear a seatbelt when I drive because my car beeps until I do. I joke. We carry guns, wear seatbelts, fly a dive flag when we go off the boat, and wear a helmet when we climb all for the same reason. I take my personal well being serious.
I can’t fault anyone for wanting to help people. Instead of being a sheepdog, why don’t you volunteer in your community? Teach some basic gun safety to some neighbors. Work at a homeless shelter. Collect money for Unicef.
At the end of the day I don’t think you should be a sheepdog. If you want to be compared to some kind of animal, be a porcupine. A porcupine is an easy going animal.
Likes to be left alone, is passive. Until he’s threatened. A porcupine only acts defensively. A porcupine will often retreat when possible, and only fight when put in the corner. Sometimes the porcupine may lose, but he always strikes a blow. Be a porcupine.