The day after the most deadly gun-related massacre in America, I took my 15-year-old daughter out to shoot guns.

I’m a firm believer in refusing to be a victim, and this philosophy carries over to the way I’ve raised my children. We had planned to take a course together from a new instructor for a while. My daughter, 15, hadn’t ever shot a gun before our class. Since I lived a good part of my adult life in Canada, I’ve only been using guns a couple of years myself.

When the day dawned, we were eager to get out the door and be there early. We didn’t turn on our computers or check the news.  I took a cute photo and posted it on Instagram and Facebook, and we popped a CD in the player in the Jeep.


It is a beautiful day to shoot guns

When I posted that photo, I had no idea that a man pledging his loyalty to the Islamic State had opened fire at a gay nightclub in Florida and murdered 50 people. With a gun.

If I had known, I might not have posted that particular picture with that particular caption. Tact isn’t always my strong point, but even I can grasp that some would find it upsetting.

But I definitely would have still taken my daughter shooting.

Guns are the greatest equalizer.

On Friday night, the very night before a man with a gun took lives in a horrific mass shooting, a woman with a gun was safer because of having it.

It was after supper when the dogs in the back began barking. A car had come down my long private driveway and pulled to a stop. I live way down a long country road, and my driveway is the last one on the road.  Uninvited visitors are extremely rare. We’re too far out there for the usual smattering of Jehovah’s Witness, little girls selling cookies, and neighborly drop-offs of homemade jam.

I looked outside and saw that two men had gotten out and approached my daughter while one waited in the driver seat of the car. My daughter, 15, was doing some of the after dinner chores. I had a bad feeling immediately. I knew it,because I was adamantly told by that gut instinct that doesn’t hint something is wrong, but pounds your heart like a drum to get your attention, and screams it inside your head. 

I stopped for just long enough to grab my loaded Glock 19 and for the first time since purchasing it, I racked the slide and chambered a round for a reason other than target practice. For the first time, I did so because of another human being. I did so because there were 3 men out there with my child and they were bigger than both of us. They were undoubtedly stronger, and we were outnumbered, and I knew that there was the potential for something bad to happen.

I stuffed the gun into the side pocket of my hoodie and hurried out. I asked the men brusquely, “Can I help you?”

One was the talker. He was bearded, overly friendly, and ingratiating. The other hung back. He was blond, thin, and moved constantly. I never got a good look at the driver due to the tinted windows in the vehicle. But I noticed the older, beat-up vehicle had no license plate. Another warning sign that this was not right at all.

The bearded one, the talker, told me that his vehicle was overheating and that they needed to come in and make a phone call. I said, “No, you’re not coming in.”

He asked if they could at least have some water.

I wanted to hustle my daughter into the house right that moment and lock the doors and call 911 and wait for a speedy rescue, complete with sirens and flashing lights.

But they were closer to my daughter than she was to me, so that was not an option.

I let them have a bucket of water, even though I could tell that the car was not overheating. The bearded one kept up a friendly patter the entire time, pretending that the radiator cap was hot, jumping back as if to avoid billowing steam that didn’t exist. While he pretended to work on the car, the antsy blond fellow was whispering to the driver.Without me bringing it up, the chatty one said, “Can you believe our license plate just fell off? If you noticed we don’t have one, that’s what happened. We just discovered it at the gas station.”

“Wow, that’s a shame,” I said, playing along. “They’ll charge you an arm and a leg at the DMV.”

I finally positioned myself to the point that I was between them and my child. Whether they’re 5 or 15, in moments when you fear for them, they are your precious child, and they are every age they ever have been and ever will be. Any person who has ever loved a child can easily imagine the relief I felt.

“You need to leave.”

The bearded one looked hurt. The blonde one looked watchful. I still couldn’t get a good look at the driver.

“I just need one more bucket of water and then we’ll be on our way,” the bearded one said, putting his hands out in a manner meant to calm me down.

“No. You need to leave now.” I put my hand firmly on the gun at my side.

Suddenly, there was a shift. I wasn’t the one backing away. The bearded guy slammed the hood of the car and walked slow backward to the passenger side, while the blonde guy got in the back.

I never drew my firearm.

I never pointed it at them.

I never shot them.

But the very sight of my hand on the butt of it, and the fact that I was clearly determined to use it if necessary was all the deterrent that was needed in that particular situation.

Suddenly, a woman and a child were more than 3 grown men wanted to tangle with.

Suddenly, we weren’t weaker. We weren’t victims. We had the power to protect ourselves.

I want my daughters to be truly empowered.

Let’s talk about biology.

Biological fact: due to testosterone, in most cases, men are physically stronger than women. Obviously, there are exceptions, but if you were going with percentages, they’d be on the side of this fact.

As equal as people would like to say the sexes are, biology defies the politically correct ideals. If my daughters were to ever find themselves in a position where they had to fight to save their own lives, I would far rather they be armed with the handgun of their choice than any number of weekend self-defense classes. Nothing is going to empower them more than a firearm that they can use with comfort and accuracy. Nothing is going to be more likely to end a conflict before it erupts into violence than seeing that the person you thought was going to be your victim is willing to fight back with deadly force.

Anyone who is against the idea of women learning to handle a firearm cannot truly call themselves pro-woman. The idea that we all need to hand over our guns and then the world would be a safer place is nothing but a silly,  rose-colored daydream.  If that offends you, then you need to sincerely think about the fact that under your guidelines, the smaller, weaker person will alwaysbe the victim.

We all have the natural right to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  Why are some people so terrified of the idea of taking control of their own safety?

There is no way to guess how many times a firearm in the hands of a would-be victim deters a criminal and saves a life. I would hazard a guess that situations like the one that happened to my daughter and me are not unique. The mere sight of the firearm at my side did not cause violence. It prevented the violence that was brewing.

I’ve written before about the fact that those involved in the preparedness lifestyle need guns, and this horrifying incident in Florida only makes me more certain.

If a person at that nightclub had been armed, he or she could have at least stood a chance against a truly evil human being. Instead, people had to hide. To cower behind the flimsy cover of a bathroom stall door. To hear others die and not be able to do anything buy pray, cry, or text goodbye to someone they loved.

The same goes for Paris, San Bernadino, the New Years Eve rapefest in Germany…the difference between a victor and a victim is the ability to successfully use greater force. We may not like it that this is the case, but if you are faced with someone who is determined to commit evil, greater force is all that matters.

And I have to say it . If you analyze all of these scenarios, there is one common denominator that goes unsaid. Innocents were raped, disarmed, or murdered, but it seems politically incorrect to say that violence in the name of Islam was a factor in all 4 horrific events. So great is the cognitive dissonance that it’s just far easier to weep and blame the guns than it is to step on the toes of someone’s religion.

Even though guns weren’t used in all of these massive acts of violence, it’s easier to say “ban guns” than it is to say “ban a religion that tells it’s followers to murder non-believers.”  (And before the flurry of indignant messages begins, I don’t believe in banning stuff. Not guns, not Islam, not plastic grocery bags instead of paper.) But banning a religion because of some people who use it in a terrible way while most do not, is just as illogical as banning a firearm because of some people who use it in a terrible way while most do not.  In both cases, deaths occur.

If I said, “Ban Islam” people would think I was a horrible human being.

So why is it acceptable to suggest banning guns when they are the most effective way to meet such brute force head on? Is it just that people don’t really want the responsibility of taking the power into their own hands?

You can go hide in the bathroom if you want to. As for me, I carry.

Today was a beautiful day to shoot guns.

So today, I shot guns with my teenage daughter.

When we left the house this morning, we were completely unaware of the tragedy of 50 people who lost their lives to a religious zealot. When I learned of this, I was even more glad that I took her out to learn to safely and effectively handle a firearm from a fabulous instructor.

I won’t always be there to protect her but I can do something even better. I can give her the tools, the skills, and the power to protect herself.

And that is how you empower your daughters.

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