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Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (courtesy

“Growing up in Houston’s East End in the 1940s and ’50s, I learned a lot about guns,” Michael Wimberly writes at “My father was a hunter, as was virtually every male on the block . . . A firearm, as I learned, is made for one reason only: to kill. And there was swift redress at home if the rules were violated. So I took my gun knowledge with me to the U.S. Air Force and was certified as a sharpshooter.” A certified Air Force sharpshooter? Hang on . . .

The Army and Navy have a Sharpshooter qualification (between Marksman and Expert) as does the Coast Guard. Here’s what has to say about the Air Force’s marksmanship program:

The United States Air Force awards a single ribbon, known as the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon [above], for an expert qualification on either the M-16 rifle, M-4 carbine or the individuals AFSC’s (duty) designated pistol. The ribbon is issued in only one degree; however, a bronze service star may be worn on the ribbon for those who have qualified expert on both the service rifle and pistol.

I don’t see the word “sharpshooter” there. Maybe someone can clue me in. Anyway, Wimberly’s article is a rant against open carry in The Lone Star State. The ex-airman claims his fellow citizens can’t handle the stress of a defensive gun use, asserting that “hero-seekers are a danger to themselves and others.” Like this:

What I will not be comfortable with if open carry becomes law in Texas, as some state lawmakers are proposing, is encountering a gun carrier in a restaurant sporting a holstered 9mm with an extended magazine. I will wonder: Is this person really licensed, or is he an unlicensed bad guy casing the premises to commit crime or an act of terror? Is he of a proper mental state or has his mental health changed since he was licensed? Does he properly maintain and clean his weapon as required? Is his weapon housing a chambered round? When was the last time he qualified on a firing range? Can he really be trusted to take on the gut-wrenching task he obviously seeks? Should the business owner check the licenses and qualifications of gun-holstered patrons before allowing them to enter armed?

Why would a bad guy casing a potential crime scene open carry? And so what if he does? Is it preferable for him to do so with a concealed, presumably illegally-owned firearm? Or with no firearm at all? And if he is a bad guy, I mean (I guess) a good guy, the maintenance of his or her firearms is her or her responsibiity. And OMG! A chambered round? That’s . . . crazy! As for business owners checking the licenses and quals of armed Americans, go fish will ya?

It’s the same BS we see all the time from proponents of civilian disarmament: average Americans are not qualified to keep and bear arms. Because the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms provided they are licensed and qualified sharpshooters. Oh wait . . .

That flies in the face of real-life experience. Estimates of defensive gun uses (DGUs) vary wildly. But even the lowest estimate pegs the number of annual DGU’s at 60k (as opposed to Gary Kleck’s recently re-checked estimate of 760k DGUs per year). I don’t recall any instances of good guys shooting good guys by mistake – unless you put the NYPD in that category. Speaking of anecdotes . . .

As a retired commercial bank loan officer, I have experienced two armed robberies. I stared down the barrel of a 45-caliber semiautomatic handgun pointed at my forehead. Children were screaming, and no one knew what might tip the scale of tense engagement. We were all forced to lie on the floor. Later, police told us, “Lucky no shots were fired. We know these guys and they are bad dudes!”

Today, I wonder had one of the 12 or so bank customers forced to the floor pulled a weapon, what would have been the outcome? Would I be now residing in a cement box in our family plot at Forest Park for the past 43 years, my just-born daughter never knowing her father and my yet unborn son never to be?

Mr. Wimberly is hardly alone in his belief that passivity in the face of an armed threat is better than taking the risk of using a gun to defend innocent life. When passivity “works” anti-gunners feel justified in holding that opinion. But I and many others don’t agree. We wonder what would happen if the bad guy or guys start shooting people. We want to carry a gun to either prevent that possibility or take action if it does – although passivity remains an option.

I wonder if Mr. Wimberly is aware of the Stockton California bank robbery where the bank robbers took a teller hostage when they left the scene. Highly-qualified police officers using properly maintained firearms fired 600 rounds at the robbers…killing the hostage.

The problem here is that Mr. Wimberly doesn’t believe we should have the option of armed self-defense. And certainly not openly. That’s because he feels threatened by our guns. Because he’s not willing to take the risk of unintended consequences that accompany armed self-defense he doesn’t want us to have that ability either. Simply put: he doesn’t trust us.

Open-carry advocates are unlikely to have minimal understanding of what I am trying to convey. I just hope our legislators who are dealing with this subject do and vote no.

I hate to say it, but tough sh*t. Just as racists’ opinions of minority voting rights is irrelevant under the law, it makes no difference what Mr. Wimberly thinks about Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Unless he can gather enough support to amend the Second Amendment. And maybe not even then. Meanwhile, I just hope that legislators ignore people with a minimal understanding of gun rights and get busy restoring our firearms freedom.

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  1. Yup, that’s the AF Small Arms Expert Marksmanship ribbon in the graphic above; there is no Sharpshooter designation in the AF so far as I know; I was Air Police, Security Police, and spec ops briefly, and I have that ribbon with three bronze service stars on it.

    Anti-gun wackos like Wimberly are certainly free to not carry and go about their lives accordingly, but the problem begins when they decide to persuade others and Our Nanny the Almighty State to take that option away from the rest of us. At gunpoint.

    • Yeah, I think he’s just a liar. I have the ribbon with one device, M-16 in 1971 and .38 Spl in 1977. I knew it quite intimately as an “expert marksman” award. There was no Sharpshooter award as of 1971, and as far as I know, ever since.

      • I am currently a TSgt in the AF and have this decoration. That dude is full of sh!t.

        • I left active duty in ’75; I had the SAEMR for the 16, .38 and 60. Do they currently award it for the current machine gun or any other weapon besides pistol/revolver and rifle?

      • Actually they sound more like DM’s (designated marksman)/counter-sniper teams rather than true snipers. The term “sniper” gets thrown around a lot and is misused too much. Sharpshooter in this case would be a better term and more accurate concerning the Air Force’s inside the wire deployment of personnel in this role. When it comes to actual snipers, my personal observation and opinion is that the Marines/Navy (SEALs) have the best with the Army right behind them.

      • I don’t think he is referring to any of the USAF courses for precision shooting. “Certified as a sharpshooter” seems to relate to basic qualification.

        The AF does train sniper teams, although they are more like designated marksmen in their training and equipment, and they serve in very specific roles. I attended the National Guard course in Little Rock a number of years ago. While traditional Army/Navy/Marine snipers are likely better pure shooters and do the traditional sniper roles better they are actually not well suited to the job USAF snipers perform.

    • If you have more than one device on your ribbon you’re out of uniform. It has always, and continues to this day, to be a ribbon for shooting expert in either the pistol or rifle, with one device authorized for shooting expert in the other weapon. And that’s it. You can only earn it once for each weapon. I shot expert in basic with the m-16 and went on to shoot expert in both the 38 and 9mm (as well as several other weapons) all the while qualifying every year expert in m-16 (later the GAU 5, and later still with a slung 203) This while serving all of my time in the special operations side for 22 years. Of my 13 rows of ribbons, my expert ribbon attained in basic with those crappy, over-used, under-maintained m-16s ranks up there for me.

      • I stopped wearing the uniform forty years ago, and at the time they awarded that ribbon to me (Expert with the 16, .38 and 60 by then) I was told the service stars were for all three. I don’t really care one way or the other anymore so it’s pretty moot for me now.

        I would like my 60 returned to me, though; sadly it’s probably been junked or melted down long ago. Saved my butt and my buddies’ butts more than once.

  2. A firearm, as I learned, is made for one reason only: to kill.

    If his father taught him that, then his father was an idiot. My father taught me that a firearm is a tool. Nothing more or less. Because my father was not an idiot.

    All I can say to Sharpshooter Wimberly is: you should have chosen your parents a little better, because the ones you picked seem to have transmitted the nitwit gene.

    Or maybe Mr. Air Force Sharpshooter is just FOS all the way around.

    • agreed, misuse a tool, get sent to jail. don’t matter if it was axe, lawnmower or a sooper skarie assault rifle (with a shoulder thing that goes up)! Every car made today comes with a tire wrench, hit someone with it, you get booked for assault with a deadly weapon i bet.

    • Yeah …

      Range practice, plinking, competitive/sport shooting, and crime deterrence are all ways that firearms are commonly used by many folks. None of them involve killing other than the last one, and even then it’s relatively rare for that usage.

  3. I also earned the expert marksman ribbon in the USAF, with star device for the M-16 & the .38.

    I also live in an open carry State, but rarely do, as it tends to freak the natives.

    My CPL works just as well, but the season of layers is waning, so a smaller alternative is needed, time to go shopping!

  4. Boils down to this, people don’t like to see things they don’t want to deal with. Concealed carry, snorting cocaine in a hotel room, wars over seas.
    As long as the sheeple don’t see it, they can rest easy believing it doesn’t exist.

    If everyone has to conceal carry they can pretend nobody is carrying.

    It’s a hair pulling annoying task dealt with every day.

  5. “Should the newspaper owner check the licenses and qualifications of guest writers before allowing them to write?”

    Try that Mr. Wimberly.

  6. Yeah, bad guys are famous for conspicuously arming themselves while “casing the joint”. After all, they want as much attention as possible drawn to themselves, no? Mr. Wimberly may not be an “idiot” in the broad sense of the word, but his aversion to handguns has apparently clouded whatever native intelligence he can bring to bear.

    • He may not be an idiot in the broad sense of the word…but the evidence provided by his little editorial does not support that conclusion.

  7. Funny. This Infantryman with a Squad Designated Marksman qual goes out of his way to high five open carry folks, because they’re one of the many groups of people whose rights I signed up to defend. Or maybe he missed that part of the oath where he swears to “support and defend the Constitution” at MEPS.

  8. Mr. Wimberly proceeds to relate his father’s strict instructions, that one must “…never, never handle a gun with magazine inserted or a chambered round in the breech.

    –We can assume either he himself merrily ignored his father’s advice, else qualifying with his firearm in the Air Force would have proved an impossible challenge.

    …something tells me you fail to appreciate the wisdom of the 1890 Texas Legislature, which passed the no-carry law that served us well for 125 years.

    –That a man raised in Texas and over the age of 66 could seriously write these words is truly remarkable, for everyone my age and older in Texas knows the truth of the following comment at the Chronicle website:

    As Mcrognale accurately comments at the site of the original post:

    Mr Wimberly had some very bad experiences with…. wait for it….. bad guys with guns. I’m sorry that he had to live through that. But my point is that he is so wrong about “the wisdom of the 1890 Texas Legislature”. The law was passed in order to prevent blacks and other non-white citizens from defending themselves against attacks from the white citizens. The second amendment means exactly what it says. The militia clause is subordinate to the right itself.

    I can’t assert with certainty that Mr. Wimberly is just another Texan terrified by the prospect that, OMG, Texans of Mexican or African-American heritage might soon be able to legally open carry…but I am free to suspect that is the reality. Disgusting.

  9. This guy is trying to use his experience as having almost been in a military force as evidence of knowing about firearms. I’m not impressed.

  10. Can he really be trusted to take on the gut-wrenching task he obviously seeks? Just because you are not interested in the criminals, does not mean the criminals are not interested in you. When the criminals show up and attack, they really are hoping you are in an indefensible state. When they attack, you have what you have, or do not have.

  11. Today, I wonder had one of the 12 or so bank customers forced to the floor pulled a weapon, what would have been the outcome? Maybe the guy would have killed the criminal, maybe the criminal would have killed the customer, maybe the criminal would have just capped everybody without any customer having a gun. It is all a crap shoot.

  12. I watched the entire TX Legislative hearing. By far the pro2A folks were measured & factual in their delivery and virtually 100% of the gun grabbers were hysterical, emotional tirades by middle aged harpies and young, activist Feminists. You could pretty much ID them as they walked up to the front table.

    • We could ask, but they’re likely very baggy in the crotch where his balls should be.

      You want to pass gun control laws? How about a law that says if you are pro gun control and anti 2A you need to wear a shoulder brassard stating such (See Robert Heinlein’s “Beyond This Horizon”). That way the rest of us know that we have no special obligation to save your sorry ass when the SHTF.

  13. Before going off and commenting on this article and disputing the points of his “story” just stop. Your being trolled. This is a fiction just like the campus rape story or “hands up , don’t shoot”. To the progs (just like Islam) it’s ok to lie if it furthers your agenda. Do yourself a favor and quite biting

  14. It really doesn’t matter to me weather he’s telling the truth or not. But I do agree with him on the open carry issue. I would much rather have a concealed weapon and have the element of surprise than to be smacked in the head, rounding a corner by a bad guy’s 2×4. Then have my weapon taken from me, and found at a future crime scene.

    • Nobody supporting open carry is saying that you cannot carry concealed with a license (or without for that matter). He’s stating that everyone else shouldn’t be able to carry openly (with or without license?) under the law.

      If you want people to defend your privilege to carry concealed under a license, why would you not support their right to carry openly without permission? Seriously, why should I support your privilege if you are going to throw my right under the bus?

    • ” I would much rather have a concealed weapon”

      If Open Carry becomes law, it just an option, not mandatory. I really don’t understand why someone with a CHL would object to others who would have that choice? How does that affect CHL holders one way or the other? I also have my Texas CHL, don’t think there are
      many situations where I would Open Carry but the freedom to do so I fully support.

  15. Probably help if you stop using Wikipedia as a definitive source. Especially for things that are so lesser known that even Air Force vets don’t know it exists.

  16. “I hate to say it, but tough sh*t. ”

    No, no, no, Robert.

    Don’t tell ’em “Tough sh*t. “.

    In a calm, concerned manner tell them “This is an excellent opportunity for you to work on your coping skills.”

    Then under your breath say


  17. I’ve been active duty Air Force for almost 6 years, and while we do have “counter snipers” never have I heard them referred to as “sharpshooters”. As has been stated several time we do have a small arms expert ribbon, one which I don’t have which is a point of great frustration for this particular Airman.

  18. Um, let me guess, he was a cook. Oh, sorry, Aerospace Food Technician. Probably got the ribbon at an annual qualification on the M-16, and he probably carried the gun less than 4 days a year.

  19. Just another ex-military person looking down on us “unwashed” civilians. I can’t speak for the rank-and-file, but I’m willing to bet that the top brass across all branches of the armed forces would rather civilians be unarmed.

  20. Is he a Cyclops from Greek mythology? How else to explain the fact that he eye(s) in his forehead?

  21. another person that thinks that surrender in the face of adversity is a better course of action! He wants us too be disarmed so he feels good! like most people of this political bend he knows best and being naturally more superior we have to listen too him! Because ??? betcha he’s into Voodoo and other mystical black arts a historical pervert against all human rights except his!

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