For more than a decade of my life, I had a tremendous fear of guns. I was not comfortable being in the same room with a firearm, let alone ever going near one.
And rightfully so…I’d been traumatized as a teenager. At just 16 years old, I watched my 15 year old best friend die from an accidental shooting. The kid that shot her was only 15 years old himself.
My friend, my 2 cousins and I had walked to the mom-and-pops corner store to get some snacks. Ironically, our high school was going to be on 20/20 that night because undercover law enforcement bought guns from students that attended our school. The purpose of the 20/20 special was to show how easy it was for kids to get their hands on firearms.
We made it to the store and the 15 year old was working this evening by himself. We knew him from the neighborhood and began talking to him about our school being on national TV. When the conversation turned to guns, he pulled out a revolver from under the register.
We watched him take the bullets out while we purchased our snacks. I bought a small bag of Funyun Rings that I ate right there in the store. When I was finished, I threw the empty bag out the door. He then jokingly pointed the gun at me and told me to pick up my trash. This made me uneasy and I said to the girls “hey let’s go.” But no one was listening to me or paying me any mind.
I picked up the trash and then went and sat on top of the steel ice cream bin which was right next to the counter where the register was. My friend was standing right beside me while both of my cousins were standing in front of the counter.
My friend and the guy started having a few words and teasing each other when all of a sudden he pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger. It all happened so fast that I don’t remember seeing her fall to the ground. I must have been in shock because I walked right over her body and out of the store hysterically wailing and waking up the entire neighborhood.
This happened the evening of November 21, 1992 and it changed my life forever. From that point on, I would have nothing to do with guns. They were evil. They were vile. They were murderous. I hated them for at least 13 years of my life.
But one single thought would change all of that:
How could I protect myself and my family from a life threatening situation?
Being only 5’6″ and 120 lbs (that was then, I’m a few pounds heavier now) there’s no way I could fight off criminals during a home invasion or a random attack on the street.
I was so busy being afraid of guns that it never dawned on me that I needed to be more afraid of the criminals with guns and less afraid of guns themselves.
I started to educate myself about firearms and safety. I took a firearms training class and started target practicing. I even got a conceal carry license.
Along with that, we educate our children about gun safety as well. They’ve heard the story of my deceased friend several times now and will continue to hear it. My 7 year old made me proud when he came and told me one day that he’d witnessed a family member breaking the #1 rule in gun safety….
Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
Guns are not toys, and should never be treated as such. Any person who plays with a gun should not own one because gun ownership requires maturity.
So, in closing, I now carry a gun because I’ll be darned if I sit back and let someone carelessly take away my only treasure on this earth….. my life or the lives of my loved ones. Not over my dead body.