I Am A Sheepdog - just not your Sheepdog
by Kirk Lawson
The term "Sheepdog" is back in the consciousness of the firearms-for-self-defense community. The term comes from Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman’s book On Combat, published in 2004.
The short version is that Colonel Grossman describes 3 mindsets, Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs. Wolves are the predators upon society; those who take, murder, rape, and abuse as part of their nature. Sheep are those who are incapable of or refuse to take steps to protect and defend themselves. They are defenseless by nature, often unaware of their defenseless nature. Sheepdogs, therefore, are the protectors of society. By nature and inclination they defend the Sheep. Colonel Grossman goes on to describe that the Sheep often can not tell the difference between the Wolves and Sheepdogs. They both have sharp teeth, powerful jaws, claws, paws, canine ears, etc. Thus the Sheep are often just as afraid of the Sheepdogs as they are of the Wolves and treat them much the same. You can extrapolate the rest of the metaphor.
Unsurprisingly, the concept of being a Sheepdog protector appeals to many in the firearms-for-self-defense concealed carry community. Many adopted the title. Today there are groups, training sites, and apparel declaring Sheepdog status.
However, there is a growing voice in the community which says, "No, you are not a Sheepdog." Sheepdogs, the protectors of society, they say, are well defined: Police. It is the job of police to protect society. Maybe sometimes military, or related fields, but the general concealed carry holder is not law enforcement and it is not their job to protect society. Whatever a concealed carry holder may or may not be, they are most decidedly not a Sheepdog. It is not their job, they may not have the training, and the certainly do not have the Qualified Immunity that police do. While it is still rare, a concealed carry holder stepping in to try to do the job of police has been known to not only get it very wrong, and even kill people who may not really be justified in being killed. Besides the obvious huge moral implications, this is bad for every other Second Amendment advocate and concealed carry holder because, to reference Colonel Grossman's analogy, it makes it even harder for the Sheep to differentiate the firearms-for-self-defense advocates from the Wolves and the Sheep then turn their political intentions to restricting the rights of pro-Second Amendment supporters out of quite understandable fear that these self-described Sheepdogs are going to exceed their moral and legal boundaries and do harm by fulfilling some sort of "I'm a cop" fantasy. There is an increasing sentiment in the community to reiterate that "you are not a cop so you are not a Sheepdog. Mind your own business, let cops be cops, you take care of you." And, frankly, there is a lot to be said for this. Police have the training on dealing with difficult people, have Qualified Immunity, have specialized gear, and can call a bunch of their friends if things go bad.
Let's revisit the Sheepdog metaphor. I have had friends who raise sheep. They have actual, real, sheepdogs, or sometimes a llama. The sheepdogs protect their sheep. Let me write that again because I want you to see the emphasis. They protect THEIR sheep. That sheepdog protects the sheep directly given under its care. It is not supposed to worry about other people's flocks. His flock.
So, if you are not a cop, not in the military, not a "First Responder," are you a "Sheepdog?" Maybe. I am. But I know who I am protecting and, I am sorry to say, it is not really you. I am protecting my family. I am protecting me. In certain rare cases, I am protecting those people directly given into my care. It is my God-given duty to care for and protect my family and those given into my charge. But who I am not protecting is, well, anyone else. I am not a cop and, honestly, I do not want to be shot accidentally by responding cops who's training has not yet caught up to the fact that not everyone with a gun and not wearing a blue uniform is a bad guy. That would not be protecting my family. That would be leaving them without a bread-winner, my wife without a husband, and my children without a father. I would lay my life down for my family. It is my God-given responsibility. But, again, as much as it pains me, my children having a father is more important to me than your children having a father. That is your God-given responsibility, not mine. I am not willing to risk my responsibilities in order to pick up someone else' responsibilities. ...and you should not either.
So, yes, I am a Sheepdog. ...just not your Sheepdog. Be a Sheepdog for your own Sheep. Let the police worry about all the other Sheep.
[Be your own Sheepdog, not someone else']