It was the year 2001 and I was at Sig Arms Academy in New Hampshire just two months after Shannon McNamara was murdered. It was the first time I ever learned to shoot a gun. I was there to get my peace back – because after staring into Shannon’s open casket, any feelings of security I’d ever known had vanished.
After hours of instruction on how the gun works, how to clean it, how to load it and memorizing safety procedures, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a line pointed at paper targets. I was shooting alongside some pretty bad-ass people, mostly military and law enforcement. Intimidation does not begin to describe how I felt, but I was simultaneously almost weak in the knees at the power I held in my hand. I couldn’t help but think, “I have the option, at this very moment, to turn to my training buddy and blow off his knee-cap.” Obviously that’s a sick and twisted thought, never in a million years would I do something like that. But it’s the true power of guns – the fact that you can. As my mentor Bob Martin always says, “Violence is the ultimate bargaining tool.”
When it comes to a person learning to protect oneself, I have taken a fairly neutral stand on exactly how people go about this. I’m more focused on inspiring women to make that first move and even think about learning to become their own best protector. Some women do this buy buying a DVD or reading a book or taking a self-defense class at a local martial arts studio. Others (especially my Southern gals in VA and TX) go and get a gun permit.
I’ve always been torn about guns as self-defense just because I clearly see both sides. On one hand, I believe we already have way too many guns on the streets illegally, many used to kill innocent people. On the other hand, people like Seung-Hui Cho (responsible for mass murders at Virginia Tech) went through the entire process to secure a firearm legally, and made purchases despite past medical records of mental instability. Kinda makes you think how that bloody day would have turned out if responsible people had guns to offer up any sort of resistance.
Therein lies the slippery slope of this debate. It’s almost like we have to make a choice – either everyone has a gun or nobody does. Banning guns from the street doesn’t seem like a realistic goal anytime soon. So does that leave just one option of an armed nation? Scary thought when you picture riots that periodically break out or a bad day of auto gridlock and road rage erupts.
Check out the above video of last Sunday’s episode of 60 minutes. I thought it was an interesting take on the issue. What’s your take on the future of gun ownership in America?