This article taken from the Sacramento Union Monday March 2, 1981
by Peter Arnett AP Special Correspondent
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) – In circles where the gun is king, Jeff Cooper is a crown prince.
“An Armed society is a polite society,” he tells his subjects and in his company people are very polite indeed.
The former U.S. marine colonel, a tanned, fit 60, entertains visitors by cocking his Colt .45 automatic pistol and shooting berries off the juniper bushes in his 200 acre backyard.
“THERE ARE PEOPLE in America who have never seen a real gun,” he complained. “This is the first time in U.S. history that heads of families have not been to Uncle Sam’s trade school,” referring to the absence of full military mobilization since World War II.
To make up for Uncle Sam’s shortfalls, Cooper runs the American Pistol Institute at his own Gunsite Ranch in northern Arizona. Cooper’s ranch, tucked away in the corner of an isolated high desert valley, is a mecca for those who aspire to shoot to kill.
Clients include judges, storekeepers, professional men “and even two clergymen,” Cooper said.
Cooper says he wears a pistol when he attends church himself ever since he read of an armed holdup in a California chapel. “They wouldn’t have succeeded if I had been there,” Cooper boasted.
COOPER TELLS CLIENTS that under English common law a citizen may use any method to prevent an attempt on his life. “If a man chooses to prey upon society, he has signed his own release,” said Cooper, who is fond of catch phrases.
Asked about the rising crime rate involving handguns, Cooper responded: “The death rate is still the same – one per customer.” “Does violence beget violence?” he asked rhetorically. “I sure hope so,” he said, smiling as he answered.
COOPER HAS BECOME a favorite tutor of Americans who are turning to firearms because of fear of the future. “Skill at arms is necessary for survival. A pistol is a grand way to end an argument someone else starts,” Cooper said.
His six-day course costs $400 plus expenses, and he will train about 1,000 people this year, twice the number he trained in 1980.
The course incorporates Cooper’s own on the job training. “I’ve killed three enemy in war,” he said. “And I’ve helped out my friends in Rhodesia, El Salvador, South Africa and Guatemala by training people, not personally fighting their wars. Not that I have anything against mercenaries. Their morality is higher than most businessmen.”
Cooper tells his clients, “The pistol on your belt is very much like a fire extinguisher. Use it at the source of the flame.” He believes citizens should assist others in trouble, whether in a supermarket holdup or a bank robbery.
HIS INTENSIVE TRAINING sessions, supervised by instructors drawn from the police and military, are held over sophisticated training courses including a “fun house” where life sized human targets are shot.
Cooper does not hesitate to criticize his clients’ performances. But he reassures them that even if they are not quite up to scratch in his school, they will have the edge back home: “The creeps of the world are generally bad shots.”
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