In 50 words or less: What the 2nd Amendment Means to you

Ted Kindel Sniper Gun Digest ran an essay contest in 1964:  In 50 words or less write what the Right to Bear Arms means to you. The winner would get an all expense paid hunting safari to Africa.

I had known my father (Charles E. “Ted” Kindel) had won this contest when I was a kid but didn’t really know the details. All the family knew was that it was an essay contest in “some gun magazine”, that the prize was a safari to Africa, and that it was one of the several African safaris my dad went on.

When my father died in 1990 we found in one of his files what I thought was the essay:

“My Constitutional right to bear arms is, to me, the most significant example of my American heritage of individual freedom and human dignity. Such a right implies that my Government trusts me and, in turn, is worthy of my trust.”

My notes show he wrote this in 1962. I’ve never had any reason to believe this wasn’t the actual final wording of his winning entry.

Gun Digest 2nd Amendment Contest

The other day I happened across the Gun Digest Research website and on a whim searched for “Ted Kindel” and got hits for both the 1965 and 1966 issues. I immediately went to eBay and found copies of both these issues for sale and bought them (I didn’t feel like subscribing to the Gun Digest Research site).

Gun Digest 2nd Amendment Contest 

I can’t tell for sure in which issue the contest was described. I suspect it was in the 1964 issue and I’m going to order that as well so I can see how the contest was actually worded. But the 1965 and 1966 issues are full of both information about my dad and great photos of him.  Page 206 of the 1965 issue contains the announcement that my dad has won as well as the text of his winning entry.

The 1966 issue contains the story of his Safari to Africa, including pictures of some of the game he bagged.

The fascinating thing is the essay, as printed in the 1965 issue is different than the one we have in our files (I only have an electronic copy and I do not remember where it originally was copied from). It says the same thing, but is longer and more wordy. I find this odd because I can remember my dad nagging on my own writing as being too wordy.

“A mutual trust between the citizen and his government is a paramount essential of the American dream. To me this trust is best exemplified by my constitutional right to bear arms. Only as long as such trust exists can we maintain our cherished concepts of human dignity and individual freedom.”

My version is 40 words long.  It is pretty awesome he crafted the “final” version to be precisely 50 words.

I’ve scanned the relevant pages from both issues and posted them here:

There’s a great write-up of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution on Wikipedia.


  1. Jason says:

    Weird that I found this 2 years and 1 day after it was written, but I think this is an awesome story. It’s great that you could find information like that about your dad. Technology is awesome stuff!

    Also, that is a really nice M1 Garand you have there!

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