The Appropriateness of the Material Contained in Sniper Country

This article constitutes a thread of discussion which occured in 1996. A fellow questioned the propriety of the information contained herein. The text in this article is Dave Reed's response, followed by the original writer, and then another Sniper Country fan.

What is the primary purpose for presenting this material?

Because I enjoy it, as do many other people.

Don't you think that "sickos" might use this material to do harm to others?

I can't control what people think or do. Little, angry, sociopaths will or will not strike out at those they perceive have slighted them, or somehow created their problems. If a reader of this site uses this material to harm innocent people, I will be disappointed. This same material is already known to anyone who has served in spec-ops units, or USMC or Army line infantry units. That puts the number of "dangerous" people walking around the streets in the hundreds of thousands. My little "Sniper Country" is certainly not going to cause wanton death and destruction.

Does this material compromise the security of active duty personnel or law enforcement officers?

I don't think so. There is very little here, if anything, that is not already known to military organizations worldwide. If law enforcement people aren't aware of the methods, then they should be. If ordinary law abiding citizens aren't aware of these methods, then they should be. If psychopaths or hostile foreigners (Non "Americans") aren't aware of these methods, then they should "not" be, but that is the price we pay for living in a free society. Look at the public outcry over bomb making and explosive information. It's simple chemistry. Chemistry has been around for a very long time, and restricting access to scientific knowledge only serves ignorance. Shooting is a popular sport worldwide. Should we outlaw training information so that more people will be bad shots?

Have any of you been in the Boy Scouts? The Boy Scouts of America taught me tracking, stalking, and survival skills before I was 13 years old. Tracking and stalking were taught under the pretense of teaching us to "better observe nature and wildlife without scaring them off". The "silent swim" was an exercise to enable us to enter, swim, and exit the water without being heard. The test was conducted with an instructor standing with his back to the shore. You failed if he heard you at any time. What do think that was for? Or what the exercises where we lay on a grassy hill and had to identify all of the things we saw before us. How many deer? What direction did the hawk come from? What was that training all about? That the Russians referred to our Boy Scouts as an "American Paramilitary Youth Organization", came as a shock to me, until I thought about the things we did in the scouts. All of My scoutmasters were Korean and early-Vietnam war veterans. Never did they mention anything about a military aspect of the exercises. It was all God, duty, honor, and country. It was about "citizenship," and the responsibilities that come with it.

I feel a little sorry for the young people who have not had this experience. This country would be a great deal stronger, and a lot better off if our children were taught the principles of citizenship they way I learned them, and with a good dose of military/survival subjects thrown in also. The kids don't have to be told that they are learning to sneak up on sentries, or track enemy patrols, or perform long range reconnaissance missions.

Perhaps the greater good could be served by presenting the material in this light, but it would not be as popular, nor as much fun to maintain.

From: anonymous
Date: 30. Jan 96 15:05

Dave: Thanks for taking the time to express your opinions regarding my concerns. Many of your philosophical points I agree with totally. My concern is not with field skills or denying public access to our profession. Nor do I believe that your page will cause the death of an innocent. I find it some what refreshing to have discovered a place where I can converse with my direct peers and in some special cases, those with an interest. However, I would never discuss my equipment or the tactics involved in the use of that equipment. This is where I feel the line should be drawn. No one needs this type of information unless they are in the business and those of us who are should be responsible and experienced enough to realize the potential out come of discussing these issues openly. I would do anything to protect my people and I imagine you would too. Operational Security is so totally ingrained into my way of thinking that it is hard for me to consider doing business any other way. I agree you have the right to express your views. I just think it should be done in a reasonable and responsible fashion. Because I have the right to guard my life from those who would use that information against me. My advantage is surprise, when that advantage is taken away it makes my job harder than it is already. I have truly enjoyed this opportunity to express my opinions with you Dave. You are obviously an intelligent and well informed individual, proof positive that we are not blood thirsty Neanderthals. I take great pleasure in knowing that I am represented on the NET by someone of your caliber. THANKS

From: Russell E. Taylor (DQBW77A@PRODIGY.COM)
Date: 31. Jan 96 1:31

This is not to defend Dave's position on the matter, for he needs no defending. Further, this is not to meant to start an argument with "anonymous" for, in his exercise of the First Amendment, he makes several points that he feels are worth making. However, it's MY turn to make a comment or two about the Sniper Country site.

I have, since childhood, been an avid hunter and shooter. Much of the "strong character" that others credit me for having comes as the direct result of having been taught survival and marksmanship skills. I was never a Boy Scout, for reasons that I'm not obliged to discuss, but I would have enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow in such a fine American organization.

Sniping is a skill. A sniper is not some bozo behind a trigger who has a $3,000 gun, more accurate than he or she, who merely needs only to pull the trigger and let the equipment take over from there. Sniping is a combination of marksmanship, field craft, and tactics, and only the most serious practitioner of these things can become a bonified "sniper."

Currently, in fact on the Tuesday night CBS news, there is a legal case pending against Paladin Press for selling a book that "instructs" people how to kill and/or assassinate others. I bring this up because I feel it is fitting with what Dave was doing an exemplary job of explaining to "anonymous." the plaintiff's lawyer is making the case that "freedom of speech" does not give someone (Paladin Press) to sell "information" that "teaches" others how to kill. Apparently, the reasoning is that if we banish the books, or their availability to the public, then "terrible things" won't happen. Sounds like gun control to me, getting rid of guns so people can't kill other people.

People in this country, too many of them, have the mentality that if the methods or equipment are kept from the masses, society will be a happier place in which to live.

This is a sad state of affairs, indeed, when people hold inanimate "things" like books, guns, knives, cars, et cetera, "accountable" for the mayhem that is wrought upon our fellow man (or woman). Personally, I've always held that "people" are "accountable" for their actions... behavior should be dealt with properly when it is not in agreement with the norms of society. Objects, however, are just that... objects. I do not feel, nor have I ever felt, that some otherwise honest, life-loving person can be turned into a Lee Harvey Oswald, a Charles Whitman... nor a Carlos Hathcock, for that matter, by merely reading and interacting with snipers and dedicated marksmen. Even the slightest hint of such a notion is intolerable to me and, I suspect, to most others who browse these pages.

I welcome the open sharing of information. All information. Censorship, whether self-imposed or mandated by one's government, is a dangerous thing.

It has occurred to me, as I'm sure it has occurred to Dave, that some of the people who come to these pages are not the type of people we would invite into our home for supper and a pleasant evening of fellowship. However, when any of us starts worrying about "being responsible for "making" someone else wipe out a McDonald's restaurant, or picking people off one by one on the highway," then quality of life as we (I, at least) know it has been impacted in a very detrimental way.

I enjoy the company of other shooters, to include the snipers I've met -- both in person and through these Sniper Country postings -- and prefer them to most of the other people I've met in my 38 years on this planet. Non-shooters, for example, tend to look upon me and my interests in sniping and precision marksmanship, as "not in good keeping with the mainstream," so to speak. However, these same people don't realize that it is DIRECTLY because of my "interests" that I have the relatively good character that I possess. The discipline, self-confidence, "can do" attitude I have is because of the life I have devoted to being a "shootist." I do not think, that I would have received the exemplary officer evaluation reports (OERs), awards (both military and civilian) and other recognitions I've been fortunate to receive if it weren't for what I've learned from my involvement with weaponcraft and hunting. I was hand-picked, as one of "the few," to teach at West Point for my annual training (AT) in January of 1995. I'm not trying to brag, I'm trying to say that my character, and likely the character of the great majority of people who come through Sniper Country, is good, sound, and respectable.

I have a number of guns, and know how to use them as well as anyone else -- perhaps better than some, for that matter. I do not, and I mean NOT, feel impulses to stroll downtown, claim a tactical position on top of the highest building I can find, and "snipe innocent civilians" because of some "inspiring" piece of literary prowess that I found in Sniper Country.

To "anonymous," I'm not saying you meant to say that we are all psycho-sickos, but I agree with you that most people who are "not of the brotherhood" do not understand us. However, I feel strongly about my convictions to live as a free man in the country I love. I will not reveal "classified" information on these pages, and nothing I've read here so far is classified as sensitive material. Anything Dave, or I, or anyone else has posted could possibly be taken as something that would "make" someone do bad things to hurt anyone else is a completely ludicrous idea...

I respect your concerns, "anonymous," but I hope that the BATF, the FBI, and any other bunch of initials that happen to come through here, will realize that were just a bunch of folks with a unique interest in precision, discipline, and self-improvement. As for "telling what we've got," well... that's the nature of the male beast. Like it or not, the "mine's better than yours is" and "mine's bigger than yours is" mentality is, generally, a normal part of the male psyche. Am I worried about anyone taking what I've got? No, not really. If anyone can live through the damage I'll do to them for trying to take even so much as the remote control to my television, well... if I can't take care of what I own, then it's my fault (not the burglar alarm's, or the fault of the book on security I read, or the fault of the company that made the locks on the doors, or General Electric for making bulbs that didn't burn bright enough).

So, let's not hold the "written word" accountable for the actions and behaviors of others, any more than we should hold guns accountable for murder. Personally, if my wife is ever murdered, I don't think I'd care too much about "punishing the gun" or "punishing the ' inspiring ' book" that the murderer blamed for his or her deed... I'd be looking for a little pay back, legal or otherwise, and the heck with the instrument used, I'd want to see the CRIMINAL punished. If we worried a little more about holding people accountable instead of THINGS, we'd all be better off.

If you're a bad person to begin with, you don't need "motivational material" to do your dirty deeds.

We all need to lighten up a little, me included, and enjoy our lives without worrying about whether what we say and do is going to cause someone else to take it wrong, go out, and hurt someone else.

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