I don’t exactly know when I decided guns were bad. I grew up in rural Iowa where hunting was big and guns were common place. I even took a hunter’s safety course when I was 7 or 8, although I never went hunting. It was just something my mother thought was a good idea because we knew people that hunted and had guns in their house. I have never asked her, but at some point she changed her mind from thinking guns were OK to guns are definitely not OK.
Being taught to shoot or not wasn’t really the biggest problem. Being raised to be a victim: that was my biggest problem. In addition to growing up in a house full of anger and violence, I was taught that the way to stop violence was to cooperate. If I wanted to avoid being hit, all I had to do was everything I was told to do. exactly like I was told to it and if I was being hit, the fastest way to stop it was not to resist. Unfortunately, this was not limited to my home. I was taught whatever a teacher said or bully on the playground did or anyone else that might be wronging me, the answer always was compliance. I was literally told, do nothing.
For some people that kind of environment might have produced a very angry violent adult, but not me. I became the most giving, compliant, rule following person you will ever meet. I abhorred any and all forms of aggression to include cussing, spanking a child, yelling and even competition. Yep, I was of “those” people. I wanted everyone to get the trophy. I wanted everyone to feel good all the time. Believe it or not that attitude served me well for most of my life. I was happy, my family was calm, people liked me, I had created a safe, loving environment to live in.
The problem was that the place I created didn’t exist. It was fantasy. It worked so long as the bad guys played along, but when the bad guys don’t play along, that illusion caused a great deal of harm. The attitude of compliance was so ingrained in me that on the afternoon I was mugged, I did not fight. I didn’t even think too. I didn’t freeze. I did everything in my power to be nice and to give him what he asked. The problem was, even after I gave him what he asked for, he wanted more, so he took it. He grabbed my arm, bent it back and he grabbed my money and he shoved me to the ground (this is the first time I have publicly shared that part of the incident). I have no idea what his plan was for me because by the grace of God, 2 cars pulled into the parking lot and he took off. Even after the bad guy was bad, I still didn’t cause a fuss. I didn’t call the police; I didn’t even call it a mugging. For the longest time I didn’t tell anyone except for the people who live in my house. I played down the incident to anyone I did tell the story to, calling him a bad guy and leaving the attack part out of the story. I did a lot of things wrong that day, but one thing I did right was decide that I was done being nice.
I got a gun, I learned how to use it and I have spent the last year honing those skills. I have done everything in my power to prepare myself so I can stop the cycle of compliance and so I can teach my kids how to fight back.
I am no longer afraid or guilty or angry. I am no longer conflicted about what the right thing to do is. I am calm and I am confident and I am teaching my kids how to shoot. I can not guarantee that my children will always be safe, that no one will ever try to cause them harm, but I can guarantee that there is no way any of my children will be standing in a parking lot willingly being assaulted.
My husband and I spend time with our kids teaching them to shoot, but we also spend time talking to them about how valuable their life is and how they have every right to fight for it. We make sure they understand that being loving and kind does not mean they have to stand by and let someone hurt them.
I sleep better at night knowing that I am doing everything I can to protect myself and my kids, but also knowing that I am teaching my kids how to protect themselves.
A Girl and Her Gun is a former anti-gun advocate that become a hard core second amendment supporter and avid gun nut.