Well, I used to be a staunch anti-gun, anti-war, anti-everything kind of gal.
I grew up in a home of violence, a home with little love and a whole lot of hitting.
It is probably why I became a person who at all costs was against anything and everything that gave the slightest edge to anything that could harm another human, no matter how remote.
When I was a grown woman with a husband and 2 children, I had the misfortune of coming face to face with the reality of the kind of horrific damage a gun can do.
I was working as a college professor in California. It was the most beautiful day, the kind of day that was bright and sunny, with not an ounce of humidity. I was flying high on life when I get a phone call from my dad’s girlfriend.
She is a nice lady and I liked her, but I would not say we were particularly close.
We exchanged some pleasant chit chat and I mentioned that I must go. There was an awkward silence and then she says, “I love you”
Normally, this is fine, but for some reason those words haunt me and I replay them in my mind on the fairly long drive home.
When I arrive home, I, for reasons that I can not explain, drive right by my kids babysitter and head to my house. I check the messages and their is an eerie message from my dad,
“CALL ME NOW!”
So, I do, but when I do, he acts like nothing is wrong and makes some excuse about wanting to talk to my husband.
I can not explain how, but from the moment his girlfriend told me she loved me, I knew something was worng. I call her and demand, she tell me what is wrong.
I assume it is my husband and I scream, “WHERE IS HE?, WHERE IS MY HUSBAND?. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?
In contrast to my tone, she is very calm and softly says, it isn’t your husband. It is your brother. He is dead. He shot himself in the head.
I don’t know how I got there, but I am standing in my front yard. I drop my phone and scream so loud that every neighbor comes out of their house. One lady carries me into my house and asks me what is wrong, but I cannot say the words.
Fast forward 10 years. 10 years!! I am standing in a grocery store parking lot with my 7 year old daughter when a very scary man approaches me repeating the words, “I don’t want to scare you, I don’t.” With each step he takes forward, I take one back. I ask him to stop and he does, but then, as he begins to “reassure” me that he does not want to scare me, he moves towards me. Each time a bit faster and with more purpose. In spite of his words, I am scared. Eventually, as we are negotiating what is in fact going to happen, 2 cars pull into the abandoned parking lot and he takes off, not without a good chunk of my money, but I am safe as is my daughter, at least for now.
My husband has spent the last year trying to get me to allow a gun in our house. I am adament that we don’t.
BUT, I come home from the grocery store shaken and scared. How do I protect my daughter, myself?
I relent and agree we may need a gun.
The thing is, my heart and my desire to protect my child didn’t quite catch up to my mind and the reality of what I have known, the violence and the pain.
It is a long, slow, painful process to actually buying a gun and even longer until I allow anyone to actually buy ammo.
I was adamant that if I had a gun, I darn well needed to know how to use it.
I researched and read everything I possibly could about guns, gun laws, and self defense…but reading only goes so far.
Recently, I attended my first gun training in Culpeper, Virginia that was taught by instructor John Murphy.
I was terrified. I had only shot 3 times in my life. I was not a great shot and my mind was not ready to deal with the reality that I might have to kill. I was still believing that people are not really that bad.
I needed to believe this. I wanted to believe this, but my reality had already changed. I knew what I believed was no longer my reality. I wanted to face it, but did I have the courage? Could I really do what I need to do? Could I train myself to kill in defense of myself or my family??
I was not so sure.
This training forced me to face the very real and cruel realities of the world I live in and my very real responsibility to take my head out of my, well you know where, and face what I had to face…
I will say that this was the exact right place I needed to be. I had the most phenomenal group of folks in the class with me and the perfect instructor. He was the perfect combination of tough reality and reassuring, “you can do this!”
I cried, I shook and I quit, at least in my mind. Half a dozen times, I said to myself, “I cannot do this”, but with the steady confident guidance of the instructor and the unbelievably safe environment, I did not quit in real life.
I was determined to learn and prepare myself, but I wasn’t sure I could.
After one brutal session of real life video of death and unmistakable cruelty of “animals”, I was shaken. I was full of grief and fear and I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. But more than that I wanted to make sure my daughter, never ever, ever was a victim of these kinds of people, so when it was time to take the line, I did.
Make no mistake, this course was not a touchy feely, lets sing Kumbaya kind of class, but it was a place I felt safe and a place I felt understood.
During my 2 days at this training, I was forced to face my fears and trained to deal with the very real threats that are out there. As I stood in the grocery store parking lot, I knew I could no longer stick my head in the sand but I wasn’t entirely ready to face it. Here, I could no longer avoid it.
It is hard to change a life time of thinking. The brain is a very powerful organ of persuasion. Unfortunately, it lies.