Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The intent, I feel certain, is to reinforce a sense of security for people, and especially for women. Unfortunately, women are at risk for many forms of violence. It’s an easy target (pun intended) to suggest that women should be protected from gun violence. They should, of course. But what about the insidious violence and threats that women face all too often? How can a woman best protect herself against violence (of any form)? As 130 pound female, how can I expect to defend myself against violence? For me, the answer is with the great equalizer – my Sig 238.
If you are still reading, has the spin of the rhetoric already begun in your mind? The so-called rationale against guns? Stay with me and let me share my story.
I am a college professor. In early 2013, a former student began stalking me. His threats included burning me in my office and attacking me and taking my high heels to use to stab me. The stalker suffers from a mental condition and this only added to my sense of fear and loss of control. For over a year the stalker was active. Now, four years later, he continues to contact me. The result? I am afraid.
Have you felt fear? Real fear? Fear that your life could end at any moment? If you have, and if you appreciate the life God granted you, you know that you must defend yourself. Living in fear and with no defense is not living.
While I’ve been a constitutional conservative since my 8th grade civics class, taught by a member of the NC House of Representatives, I had never held a gun – much less used one. I made the decision to empower myself. The university did not protect me. The police did not protect me. The court system did not protect me. I made the decision to take responsibility for my own life – for my own protection.
Now, I am a well-trained carrier, with more hours shooting than most police officers. Does this eliminate my sense of fear? No. I suspect fear will be part of my life forever. I remain afraid on campus, and especially in my office where I am most vulnerable. My office location and hours are publicly posted. There is only one door in or out – no alternate means of egress. And most critically for my sense of safety, it is against the law for me to have my firearm outside of a locked container in my car. Picture a sitting duck – in what should be a “safe space.”
What I know though is that when I am armed, I have a chance. I have a chance to live. During one of my training workshops, one participant said – I could never shoot another person even if I was threatened with deadly force. The trainer asked, “Is a criminal’s life more valuable than your own? How do you think God feels about your disregard for the life He gave you?” For me, this captured all I feel and know about my right to bear arms. No one will take my life without a fight. Violence comes in many forms. As much as I would love to believe I am as strong as any man, physically that is impossible. My gun and my ability to use it safely and effectively allows me to protect myself against violence – in whatever form it may come.
I suppose this is why National Gun Violence Awareness Day is so emotional for me. In eclipsing the many forms of violence that women face, and depicting guns as an enemy, this day and the rallies associated with it undermine my right to life. Is that what you want? To be an implied accomplice to an attack against a woman? To undermine her ability to protect herself and have some measure of control against violence?
Women, we must be EmPOWERed. Our lives are OUR responsibility. Be ready. Hope for the best? Yes, but be prepared for the worst. This is the mission of the EmPOWERed movement, envisioned by gun rights activist, Antonia Okafor. EmPOWERed seeks to inform, support, and prepare women on university campuses to protect themselves against violence. Nothing is closer to my heart. As women, we are told to be kind, pretty, and soft. The cultural story of relying upon men to “rescue us” is taught from the moment we are born. Is that the truth? No, it is a fairy tale. That’s not my story. My story is real. It is raw. And my sense of security lies in my ability to protect myself. There is truly no greater self-gift than to embrace accountability for one’s own life – to honor the life that God granted.
Visit EmPOWERed to learn more.