NRA Ring of Freedom | John and Kathi Schumann

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The First Amendment put bread on John Schumann's table, but the Second Amendment bound his family together.


John And Kathi Schumann

You see, the Schumanns are newspaper people. John Schumann's dad moved to Vero Beach from Indiana early in the 20th Century and established the Vero Beach Press Journal. Son John took over as publisher in 1978, following a stint in the Army.

The Press Journal was an old-school newspaper, dedicated to the truth—telling both sides of an issue and upholding the integrity of the First Amendment. Each generation of the Schumanns saw to that. They understood that a democracy couldn't survive without free speech and a free press. They also understood that sister amendments, including the Second Amendment, were equally important to the preservation of a free society.

The Schumanns are, as John's wife, Kathi, is fond of relating, a family that "prays together and plays together." And much of that play has, over generations, revolved around firearms.

John's uncle was a hunter who made his own guns. He passed that love of shooting and hunting on to his nephew, who in turn passed it along to his family.

Kathi grew up in Vero Beach enjoying hunting trips with her father. Her marriage to John allowed the two of them to enjoy shooting and hunting as a hobby that has helped bind the family together. All the children, including a daughter and four sons, learned to enjoy the shooting sports and the outdoors through mentoring from both Mom and Dad.

John continued to publish the Journal until 1996, when he sold it to pursue passions including vintage aircraft, race cars, international hunting and, of course, family.

The sale was not without regret, especially as over the years he watched more and more publishers use their publications as a bully pulpit against the Second Amendment freedoms he held dear.

Schumann couldn't hold his tongue any longer when, in 1993, Editor & Publisher, a trade journal many consider the voice of modern newspaper publishing, printed a column blasting both the National Rifle Association and individual firearm ownership in general. Schumann called the editor, questioned the integrity of such biased reporting, and received equal time and space to pen words on behalf of the NRA and the Second Amendment.

Schumann, military veteran and hunter since childhood, understood the need to take a stand for such deeply held beliefs.

"The Second Amendment protects all our basic individual freedoms."

I've always felt strongly about the Second Amendment," he said. "Without the right to keep and bear arms we wouldn't have free speech, a free press, a constitutional government, our American way of life. The Second Amendment protects all our basic individual freedoms."

Schumann also knows that shooting and gun ownership can aid individuals who are overcoming hardship. His son Gene, injured in an accident when he was 20, fought through hours of rehabilitation, determined to someday hunt and shoot again. Today, he does both from a wheelchair.

Gene's struggles to regain enough mobility to use firearms made his father aware of the growing need for disabled shooting programs underwritten by the NRA. Hundreds of wounded warriors were returning from military service with a desire to re-establish, as much as possible, the lives they'd enjoyed before their wartime injuries.

So John went to the NRA with a challenge. He would match, dollar-for-dollar up to $75,000, any gift to the organization's Disabled Shooting Services Division. His generosity is credited with substantially endowing this important program.

"These young men and women deserve a fair shake," Schumann points out. Through his son, he's seen firsthand the difference in outlook and attitude a gun can make when placed in the hands of a young person recovering from an injury. He has also seen wounded warrior programs continue to help returning veterans readjust to lifestyles they thought might be lost forever.

Son Gene's recovery has been so successful that he's now an accomplished amateur gunsmith and owner of Cottonmouth Armory in Vero Beach. Another son works in the financial world, another is a journalist-publisher like his father, but all retain a love of guns and hunting—a natural by-product of their rural upbringing, according to John.

Not long ago, all four boys accompanied their dad to Alaska on a bear hunt. It was a successful outing for all, generating stories and photos to share with their mother and sister during holiday family gatherings.

John and Kathi didn't let retirement slow the pace of their hunting pursuits. They've been to Scotland, Africa, Alaska, Austria, Spain and back to their favorite spot in the lower 48, the antelope plains of Wyoming.

Although he doesn't use them for travel, John does have his own hangar filled with vintage aircraft. John, a pilot since his high school days in Vero Beach, can load up the entire clan if he wants to, including Prinz, the family dog, for a quick recreational flight.

Prinz dons his own headgear when it's time to become airborne.

The Schumanns didn't mention if the pooch liked to race cars as much as he enjoys flying, but if not, he's the only member of the family that can resist the allure of high speed.

John's race car collection gets a good workout on a test track built on family land. Everybody races—Mom, Dad, boys, girls. Son Mark met his wife, Cheri, at a race where they were driving. Seems both were big winners at that one.

John Schumann and Kathi have been winning the race of their own united lives for more than 47 years now, praying and playing together in a manner that's yielded a successful business, an enduring marriage and a happy family that's gone on to forge their own success stories.

"We've spent a lot of time together doing the things we love," Kathi admits, alluding to the Schumann winning formula. An animal lover, she continues volunteer work with charities including Dogs for Life, a longtime favorite. She also maintains a special spot in her heart for horses, especially Tennessee Walkers.

The Schumanns also support local charities including art museums, theater, education, senior citizens and animal rescue groups. It's their way of giving back to the place that they've always called home.

Ask John Schumann about the secret behind his family's success and he'll credit America's Founding Fathers, men who risked their lives to provide a fledgling nation with strong individual rights, including free speech.

The First Amendment allowed for newspapers that could report honestly and openly. At the same time, the Second Amendment stood ready to protect that right.

Today they continue to work together like bookends enclosing a universal truth, John says. As long as you remember that there are two sides to every story, and that gun owners also have right to be heard.

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