The following is a response I wrote after hearing a distant family member state that an irrational response to stress is buying a gun. A little more background on the situation, this family member found out that a "mass shooting" suspect lives on their street and they were feeling stressed and unsure about how to protect their family. It is a little lengthy.
The lives of my family are the absolute highest priority in my life. I would sacrifice my own life for theirs without hesitation.
I have a distant cousin who lives in the Seattle area, where there was a "mass shooting" of some sort. After a few days, this cousin found out that the person who is the suspected shooter, lives on her street. Her two young daughters have played on the street in front of his house. She is understandably scared, stressed, unsure, angry, and God knows what else. She asked if stress and the inability to focus are normal responses to stress. ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY!!! Her husband responded by stating, "You know what is not a rational response to stress? Buying a gun!" Here, I go back to my opening statement. The lives of my family are the absolute highest priority in my life. I would sacrifice my own life for theirs without hesitation.
So, cousin's hubby, you're telling me that it is okay with you that the kids in your neighborhood played in this person's yard? He shot up a public place, and you don't think it might be a good idea to have a way to defend your home, your children, yourselves, your neighborhood kids,etc in the event that another neighbor decides those kids shouldn't play in front of his house? Or, what if you had been at the place that he shot up??
Me? I carry a gun, most of the time. Want to know why? So that I don't have to be afraid. I am not afraid for my own life. I am not afraid for the lives of my children. I am not afraid that someone will hurt me. I live in confidence, rather than fear. I am confident that if I was in a "mass shooting" location, or a robbery or somewhere where people intended to do harm, that I would not be a victim. I am confident that those around me would not be victims. The only victim in that location would be the one who initially intended to harm others. That person would be a victim of a mother protecting her children. The victim of the one who does not have to fear for her life.
Am I trying to jab, hurt or chastise those who choose to live without guns? Hell no! I respect your right to choose not to carry. And if it came down to it, and you were in the store or wherever, choosing to fear for your life from behind a shelf of crackers and candy, I would selflessly PROTECT YOUR LIFE. Have I met you? Maybe. Do you deserve to die while eating dinner with your family, or going on a date, or grocery shopping? NO. That is why I choose to live in confidence, not fear. I do not fear for my life. I live in confidence that I can help people stay alive by carrying a gun.
I choose not to go inside many places where I am "not allowed" to carry my gun. Many times, I am angry when this happens. This place of business feels that they can take away my ability to live in confidence. As I, very hesitantly enter places where firearms are forbidden, knowing that I am not going to be able to protect myself and my kids, or that lady behind the candy shelf, IF something went wrong-I fear. I fear. I fear for the lives of the people in this place. I fear that every person who comes in is not abiding by the law and has a gun. I fear that someone with evil in their heart will hurt me, my family, the elderly man waiting for his prescriptions, the child unattended at the drinking fountain, the soldier on his way home, one of my past students and his mom, the 18-year-old cashier, the single mom who had somebody to watch her kids for 15 minutes so she could run to the store for dinner, the father and son in the fishing aisle, the dad with 5 kids in the cart, the deaf lady in the bathroom, the bank teller, or the unarmed security guard. I fear. When I fear, I am only confident about one thing. I am confident that I will be a victim.
Let me tell you a little bit about the town I live in. The major employer in the area is the Department of Corrections. We have both Federal and State operated prison facilities. We have a super max facility, which holds, or has held, people like Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kazinsky, and some of the most vile people who have ever lived. There are no signs up around our community warning people against picking up hitch hikers. There are, instead, signs encouraging you to "Do time with us!" Now, even though there are no signs discouraging picking up hitch hikers, most people in this town know that it is extremely risky to do so. There are regularly scheduled drills at our schools for the event of an escaped inmate. Sirens sound at all hours. Most of us ignore them. They are just "normal." SORT and Search & Rescue teams do regular simulated escape scenario training on my street. But, I am not afraid. I live within walking distance of 13 correctional facilities, containing approximately 20,000 inmates, some of which have done things that do not even need mention. I am not afraid. My house does not have a "no firearms" sign. I do not lock my doors when I leave, or when I go to bed at night. I am not afraid. I live in confidence.
So, when this guy says things like, "Buying a gun is an irrational response to fear," I ask, "Why don't you protect yourself so you don't have to be afraid in the first place???"
Keep all this in mind as you're running the cash register at the gas station and you are all of a sudden looking down the barrel of a gun. Please hope that me, or someone else who is not afraid is in the store right now, because you are now a victim. Hope with all your might that my daughter drove me to the store because she is learning to drive. Hope that I am prepared to sacrifice myself for my child. Hope that I push your head down behind the shelf of cereal as he looked down the barrel at you. You hope. YOU HOPE. You hope with every cell in your body. You hope with every ounce of faith that you have. You hope that I grabbed my gun off my nightstand.
Now, let me tell you about what I hope for. I hope, every time I holster my gun on my body, that it stays there. I hope I don't need to touch it until I get undressed. I hope that I don't need it. I hope other people have their firearms so I don't have to use mine. I hope YOU push MY head down behind the cereal. I hope that barrel isn't pointing at me. I hope that only good people go shopping today. I hope to draw a bear tag this year so I can test the lethality of this little gun against something big. I hope I never shoot this gun at anything alive.I hope I don't have to be a hero. I hope nobody robs the bank today, because I have to go inside. I hope that I don't have to kill somebody in front of my children, or your children. I hope my gun is staying concealed well so it doesn't freak you out. I hope your 3-year-old doesn't see my holster, and announce at the top of her lungs in the middle of the store, "Mommy, that lady has a gun!!" I hope you have let your children see what kind of damage can be done by a gun. I hope you never need to use your gun to kill a person. I hope you kissed your wife before you left the house. I hope nobody was mad when they decided to come here today. I hope I don't get fired today. I hope that creepy dude outside the door doesn't talk to me. I hope 5 bullets is enough. I hope I miss. I hope I don't miss. I hope I didn't break the law. I hope.
I hope you are beginning to understand.
Now, let me tell you some things that I know. I know where my gun is at all times. I know that my gun is loaded at all times. I know that every member of my family is competent with at least 1 firearm in our house. I know that if somebody entered my house, making a threat on someone's life, that my family would know what to do. I know that I have a better chance to make it out of danger if I can defend myself. I know that doing nothing is not an option. I know where I am "not allowed" to carry my firearm. I know I worry about my sister who lives in a metro area and wouldn't know what to do with a gun if her finger was on the trigger. I know I am not a person who will attack another person. I know that I am a caregiver by nature. I know that I am refusing to be a victim. I know there are more felons in my town than there are in most. I know a girl who studied karate from the time she could stand up until she graduated high school, who was beaten within inches of her life by her boyfriend. I know that being a 115 lb., 5 ' 2", blonde female that my chances of being sexually assaulted are very high. I know that more laws are not going to fix problems. I know that my family has skills that will allow them to survive most situations. I know the lives of my family are the absolute highest priority in my life. I know I would sacrifice myself to save the lives of my children.
Again, I ask, "Why don't you protect yourself so you don't have to be afraid in the first place?"
So, family-afar, hear this. I did not run out and purchase a gun due to being scared or stressed by something scary. I did lots of research. I asked friends what they carry. I asked to shoot theirs. I shot everything we already owned. I did more research. I spoke to my gunsmith, a firearms instructor, the guys at the gun counter, and my very knowledgeable husband. I decided what I wanted and for what purpose. I have been through all of the required safety courses and training by my state for me to carry a concealed handgun. I choose confidence over fear.
Make an educated decision for your family. This is my decision. I choose confidence. I choose life.
Amy E. Garner
Step-Mom of 2
Former Preschool Teacher (14 years)
Blog posts are original content written by 1MMAGC moms and dads.