Colonol Jeff Cooper, philosopher, author, history instructor, adventurer, columnist – widely recognised as the father of the Modern Technique of handgun shooting – died on Monday peacefully at the age of 86.

This is a man who made a mark. (Actually, he made thousands of .45 caliber holes, if we’re talking literally.) Colonol Cooper coined terms, created standards and did so with a wealth of sheer life experience.

Anyone who has received pistol training has been influenced by the teaching of Colonol Cooper, beknowest to them or not. When I qualified for my Arizona concealed weapons permit last year, I was not aware that the handgun techniques taught to me during my training were those emphasised by Cooper: the Weaver stance, the four ‘conditions’ of a semiautomatic pistol, the colour-coded combat mindset, and the four basic rules of gun safety that now form an integral part of almost every firearms training doctrine.

But further to that, Colonol Cooper was a political philosopher who was thoughtful about learning from human history and advocated that civilians not only be permitted to own and carry firearms but that they be encouraged to do so: “The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely upon the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny, since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized.”

And these are wise words on the debate about gun control: “The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles”.

Comments on Cooper’s passing at libertarian blog today include: “A fine man. Colonel Cooper changed the world of personal security.” “The fact that I can actually hit a man-sized target at 30 feet is attributable to him.” “I couldn’t begin to list the number and nature of that which I’ve learned from his writings.” “A gentleman’s gentleman.” “Remember him to for the concept of the Scout Rifle.”

Cooper was also responsible for coining the term ‘hoplophobia’ to describe an irrational fear of firearms, a phobia that is perhaps more common today than a fear of heights. He didn’t mind hunting either, regarding the African gorilla as one of the top pistol trophies: “If you threaten his group he will charge, and a charging gorilla is a fearful spectacle. To stand your ground with a handgun and flatten him at 15 feet is man’s work.”

Folks: Where are such men in our legislature?

John Wright