In love and strength

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{If this offends you, please, just move along.  I’m quite done with being blasted with hateful, rude words and defending myself.  If you cannot be kind or rational, go about your business and leave us be.  Thank you.}

Yesterday, my sweet city suffered a horrible tragedy at the hands of a radical terrorist.  49 of our citizens, one of whom I personally knew, were gunned down in a hateful, bigoted act of terror by a man who’d never met them…all in the name of ISIS.  Our city grieves and is in shock.

These were our friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, family, loved ones… our fellow Americans.  And as we’ve been going through these last 24 hrs, I have been absolutely stunned, both in good and bad ways, by what I have witnessed.

I want you to know that I have wrestled with this next bit.  The decision of whether or not to address what I’ve seen…but I know that the conversation is already taking place and I feel being heard is important.  I also feel that, since I was verbally accosted today by a complete stranger, I deserve to, without being screamed at, give my response.

THE GOOD

Our citizens and even those outside the city and outside our state have lined up in droves (in line for upwards of 5 hrs) to give blood.  KEEP IT COMING!  There are still many in the hospital and numerous listed in “Grave” condition.  The blood supply will need to be replenished many times over the coming weeks.  Please, if you are able, go to your local blood bank and give!!   And others have showed up to bring ice water, snacks, provide port-a-potties, and fans.  You are all amazing and we appreciate every single kind act!  Watching our state unite to hug, pray, support, give…it makes me so proud to live here!  This was an attack on our freedom as Americans…and we need to stand together and stand STRONG against these terrorists!!

THE BAD

Let me begin this passage by saying I am ashamed of those of you advocating the violation of our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights in the aftermath of this tragedy. You are running about like scared children, blaming everyone and everything but the radical islamic terrorist scum of an individual that committed this heinous act of terror.  Demanding the ban of firearms.  Demanding “assault weapons” bans and confiscation.  I am stunned that individuals have immediately hijacked this tragedy of our loved ones to further their political agendas.  I am shocked that, as a firearms owner, I’ve actually had to defend myself to people who’ve never met me, have NO connection to this tragedy, and have NEVER even SEEN the firearms used in this terrorist act.  People seem to think that their fears, opinions, and political agendas are more important than those we lost, those who grieve, and those who are law abiding citizens and have NEVER committed a crime.  I am so angered that, in the midst of our grief, we must even field this conversation.  I don’t want to have it.  But, I know the right thing to do is to meet it all head on.  I am sick and tired of being attacked by individuals with erroneous information, insane accusations, and absolutely insane & unconstitutional demands.  So let’s get this over with so I can go back to my life.

THE UGLY (TRUTH)

I want to tell you the truth.  From my heart.  I want to, as a Constitutionalist, challenge you to look beyond your fear & opinions and see the facts and the law abiding citizens on the other side of your fear & seething hatred.

I was told (screamed at) today (by a mean, vicious, insensitive individual) that all guns are “evil”, are unsafe, should be banned, and that as a firearms owner, I’m a primitive fetishist without a brain who lacks forward thought or the ability to care about anyone but myself.  Well, tell us how you REALLY feel!  Sheesh.  You don’t even know me, but, by all means, pass your judgement.  *knuckle crack*…let’s tackle this first bit about “guns are evil”.

First of all, basic English (the language & the subject…you know, that thing in school you were supposed to be taught) makes that statement absolutely untrue and obliterates the argument immediately.  Inanimate objects have no ability to possess, act, or be anything but inanimate.  They can do NOTHING.  Firearms possess no consciousness, no autonomy, no life.  Firearms require a human component (or a gross lack of adherence to the safety rules) to cause harm.  A firearm cannot load itself. A firearm with no chambered round cannot chamber it’s own round.  Now, let’s address “guns are unsafe”.

Here again, we find this statement is made erroneous merely by sentence structure and basic rules of the English language.  However, let’s move beyond this and dive into something I mentioned above: firearms safety rules!  These are basic rule that EVERY SINGLE firearms owner should adhere to, obey, and respect.  If you cannot or do not, you should not own a firearm…PERIOD!

1. All guns are loaded.
– There seems to be some confusion on this.  Let me clarify.  ALL firearms are loaded.  If you unloaded the firearm, walked the ammo and magazines (NO, they aren’t “clips”…PLEASE don’t use that word…you sound stupid) to another room and returned to your firearm, it is STILL LOADED.  even after you clear the chamber, it’s STILL LOADED.  Are you understanding the point?  Treat every.single.firearm as if it is loaded, no matter what!  This step, if it were truly observed, would ELIMINATE the majority of “accidental” shootings (which we in the firearms world call “careless discharges” or negligence…because, if an “accident” happened with your firearm, you were NEGLIGENT/CARELESS/STUPID)! Yes, STUPID. I’m harsh, I know.  However, there’s NO excuse for negligence or carelessness in the presence of something that, when used improperly, can prove potentially deadly.  A healthy respect/fear of what could happen if you aren’t always safe is good…NEVER forget the potential power contained in your hands.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
– My granddaddy taught us this one as “Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction”.  This means at the GROUND, never at people, animals, or anything else unless you intend on blowing it away.  Unless you are aiming at a target, an animal you are hunting, or someone coming to kill you, you best have that thing in a safe direction.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you’re prepared to fire.
– I’m not sure WHY this one is so difficult for people.  When your finger is ON the trigger, you’re a gnat’s butt away from firing.  If you aren’t on target and 100% committed to firing a round at said target, get our flipping finger AWAY from the trigger!!  Don’t increase your trigger-pull pounds…just obey the safety rule.  Goodness.  And, you guessed it, if you cannot obey this rule, you shouldn’t own a firearm.
4. Always confirm your target, as well as what’s in front, behind, and around it.
– You are responsible for every round that leaves your firearm.  WHAT?  Let me say it again: YOU, and ONLY YOU, are RESPONSIBLE (I know, not a word you hear very often) for EVERY.SINGLE.ROUND leaving your firearm.  Careless discharges, misses, ALL of them!  THIS is why we practice!  If you cannot stay on target and be responsible for all your rounds, you have NO business owning a firearm.

“Guns should be banned”.  Stupidity should be banned.  Blerg.  I have the hardest time with people uttering these words because it is immediately clear they have ZERO grasp of our history or the significance of the Constitution of the United States of America, The Bill of Rights, or the foundation upon which this nation is built.  I get it, you want people to be safe.  You want to protect people from evil.  You want to stop these psychos from killing.  You know what?  I do too!  That’s one of MANY reasons why I own firearms!  WHAAAAT??  Let me share something extremely personal with you. (CAUTION: NOT for young readers)

I own firearms for skeet shooting, hunting, and personal protection.  Why?  As a young woman, I was the victim of a sexual assault.  I went out with my boyfriend at the time.  He became angry when I refused to drink and stay later at a party.  Embarrassed at how he was speaking to me in front of others, I walked outside. HUGE MISTAKE.  He propelled me by my upper arm into the alleyway.  He screamed at me, slapped me, and then violated me in an unimaginable way.  This was the beginning of a cycle.  It happened multiple times over the next few months.  Why did I stay? He told me no one else would want me.  I was a “broken vessel”, “Damaged goods” and NO ONE would ever believe me.  A friend finally convinced me to tell someone.  When I reported my sexual assaults, I thought I’d have an advocate.  I felt so relieved as I blurted out the horrific details.   “Finally”, I thought, someone would protect me from the monster.  Instead,  I was made fun of & told “You probably wanted it”, “We know him and his family…you’re a liar”, “If it did happen, it’s your fault for being alone with him”, “You kept going back so that’s you’re fault”, “Awe, look at her cry to make it more believable”.  I was crushed.  I ran from the building and buried my shameful secret.  Young, scared, and alone, I believed what they’d told me.  I lived that way for many years…embarrassed and thinking it truly WAS my fault because I didn’t do something to stop him.  Broken, weary vessel.  Thank goodness I met a wonderful, empowering, kindhearted man (and married him).  He made clear that I was not the broken vessel this monster told me I’d forever be in everyone’s eyes.  He taught me to become my own advocate and helped me learn how to use a handgun.  I had been proficient with rifles for my entire life but handguns and the realm of personal protection were something new.  So, WHAT does all this have to do with protecting people and stopping violence?

As I train & practice, I become sharper each day.  I am empowered and feel safe: I can protect myself.  I am confident and don’t live in constant fear.  I don’t have to rely on someone else to “save me” should my life be in danger.  My firearms, both handguns and rifles alike, are “equalizers”.  What does that mean?  That means, as a woman, I don’t have to fear attackers that could overpower me…I have the means to protect myself from them.  So, when you talk about “banning guns”, you talk about taking away my ability to protect myself as a woman.  And, the AR-15 you’re losing your MINDS over?  It’s a beautiful, customizable platform upon which women (or men) can build a rifle for hunting or home/family defense.  If you don’t want people to lump all Muslims together based on this man’s actions, why do all firearms owners get lumped into the boat with his actions?  Terrorists, criminals, and mental whackos are NOT the majority!!  We need to stop punishing the many for the crimes of the few!!
*And before you throw that “need” word out there: No, right now, I don’t “NEED” an AR-15.  However, should someone enter my home or should I want to hunt, I will absolutely “need” an AR-15.  But then, you don’t NEED a fire extinguisher until there’s a fire or an epiPen until you’re in anaphylaxis.  Do you really need a big screen TV or a $40,000 automobile?  No.  But, you’re free to get them if you want them.  Why does need have ANYTHING to do with owning ANY legally obtained firearm??  It shouldn’t and it doesn’t. Another side note: our rights aren’t based on NEED.

Now, the last part of the accusations: Primitive fetishist without a brain who lacks forward thought or the ability to care about anyone but myself.  
Primitive: Well, I do eat Paleo, have solar power for my home, go camping and hunting and like old movies.  My owning firearms makes me “modern”…primitives didn’t HAVE firearms…they had spears!
Fetishist: Do you even KNOW what that word means?  I don’t think you do.  I actually don’t believe firearms have powers, supernatural or otherwise.  Only PEOPLE have power.  I also don’t believe objects have power over people.  So, guess what?  That means I’m NOT a fetishist.  Maybe I should buy you a dictionary for Christmas.  Oh, wait, you’re a PC Nazi, you don’t say “Christmas”.  Christmas. Christmas. Christmas. Ahem.
Without a Brain/Lacks Forward Thought:  What are we, 12?  Well, I OBVIOUSLY have a brain (duh).  And, if your definition of “forward thought” is violation of an individual’s Constitutionally protected rights through banning and confiscation, I don’t want to BE a “forward thinker”…because it’s backward….and primitive. Ahem.
Ability to care about anyone but myself: This one is my FAVE because my entire support of firearms and training and empowering people (especially women) to learn to shoot and defend themselves blows this one out of the water.  I don’t want anyone to have to WAIT on someone else to save them, protect them, advocate for them.  It’s our right and responsibility to protect our own lives.  We shouldn’t have to be beholden to someone else.

Look, if you’re afraid of firearms, in ANY FORM, or just aren’t educated on them, I want you to do me a favor.  Just do this ONE thing for me: Men and women ALIKE-Go and find a group of women who shoot (Well Armed Woman chapters, Pink Pistols, or Women’s NRA groups are super accepting and helpful) and 1.) TALK to them (be open and up front about your hesitations and what you’re doing).  Talk to them about WHY they shoot, own firearms, or concealed carry.  Don’t be inflammatory or rude.  Ask polite questions to gain information.  Fact find.  You NEED FACTS!  Ask about safety, rights, and their WHY!  2.) GO SHOOTING 3 times with them.  Shoot a handgun, rifle (an AR-15 if they have one), and shotgun at least 3 times each during these outings!  3.) At the end of your 3rd outing, revisit your beliefs with your newly gathered facts and experiences!!  And, if you REALLY want to go a step further, go to a gun shop and go through your state’s process to purchase a firearm (unless you’re a prohibited possessor).  Also, learn the difference between Semiautomatic and automatic…they are NOT synonyms!!

Now, I hope that, since we’re adults, we can move on.  I hope that I’ve suffered sufficiently and have now answered your rants and clarified my position.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, my family and I are going back to grieving for the loss of our friend.

Resources for you (if you REALLY care about facts, you’ll delve into these):

1.) http://thefederalist.com/2015/02/24/14-things-everyone-should-understand-about-guns/

2.) http://www.alternet.org/story/50039/pink_pistols%3A_gay_gun_rights_group_is_ready_to_fire

3.) http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/19/a-gay-friendly-shooting-club-just-won-this-big-gun-rights-victory-in-dc/

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