Friday, October 24, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

One of my favorite shows was Jericho. It was about nuclear bombs going off in several American cities on the same day. The show followed the survival tactics of the people of Jericho, a fictional city in the state of Kansas. One of the nuclear bombs was in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government was gone.

What did they do when everything modern shut down? The most important immediate needs for their survival was to get food (they lived in a community that could grow their own), water (again, they weren't dependent on running water), and to find a way to communicate with the outside world to get news.

So these people depended heavily on their guns. When conditions get really bad, the need for guns becomes urgent. I think of this when I think of the upcoming election.

There is a great video on You Tube with scenes from Jericho. The video features the song "World" by Five for Fighting. Watch the video:

Listen to the song. Think about what's at stake.

"Be careful what you wish for. History starts now."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mothers with guns

I am getting some comments from people who have read my blog and think I made the wrong decision when I decided to arm myself. "It won't help against terrorists." "Guns are dangerous to have in the house with children." They give me their statistics and facts.

I understand how they feel. I used to agree with them.

I know that having guns won't protect me against a terrorist flying a plane into a building or against a bomb, etc. It won't protect me against something I can't see like a sniper. I may never even have to use it (and I hope I don't!) .

But what if I do?

There is one thing that no man can understand, and that's how it feels to be a mother. I am much smaller than most men. I could never win in any kind of physical confrontation, and there's not too much I can do to protect myself. I've been there when some man thought he could take advantage of that. It's a pretty scary thing to go through your life feeling vulnerable. But I thought I just had to accept it. Add to that the responsibility to protect your children. If I can't even protect myself, how can I protect them? I would give my own life any day to protect theirs. Those teachers at Cooper Middle School and at Virginia Tech would, too. Sometimes there's absolutely nothing you can do, like when my daughter died. I was helpless. But maybe, just maybe, I can protect someone some day. And even if I never do, I don't feel like a walking target. That in itself is a big thing.

No man can ever understand how it feels when a woman realizes, for the first time ever, that she is not defenseless. More women should know what it's like.

Here's an example. One of my daughters is married to a firefighter. His shift takes him away from home for days at a time. She lives in a different state, far away from me. My daughter spends many nights alone with her baby girl. One night two houses on her street were broken into. The burglar entered the homes through the garage which all have automatic door openers. He somehow could get the doors open without tampering with them. My daughter called me and told me that when her husband heard about it, he went out and bought a gun for my daughter and took her shooting. She now feels safer in the house during the many nights he is gone. I feel safer knowing that she could protect herself and my granddaughter. She, like her mother, does not just leave the gun lying around where children can get to it. She is actually taking the opposite view to "It's dangerous to have guns in the house when you have children." She has concluded that it might be dangerous NOT to have guns in the house when you have children.

We can't stop everything. But some women have stopped intruders in their own homes. Some have stopped killers who were trying to shoot other people. I remember the woman who stopped a shooter at her church in Colorado. The press called her a "Security Officer." She was just a volunteer, and she saved lives. I wish there would have been someone like her at Virginia Tech.

I've always focused on "Guns Kill People." Guns also save people. Maybe I will save one someday. Maybe not. But there's a huge sense of empowerment that comes with knowing that I have a choice.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What gun control really does

In response to my "Anti-Gun Rights to Pro-Gun Rights: My conversion" a man posted the following reply:
Thanks for that most eloquent post. I am strongly anti-gun, helped partly by the fact, I admit, that I live in Rome Italy and not Newark NJ.

I seriously question (often on my blog) whether arming ourselves is the answer. Does it not lead to a never ending escalation of the very violence that you cite?
My response:

That certainly seems logical, doesn't it? More guns should equal more violence. I used to think so, too. However obvious that may seem, my experience actually tells exactly the opposite!

I moved to Virginia eight years ago from California. I had lived in California for most of my life, and that's where I developed my anti-gun attitude. When I came to Virginia I found that crime is different here, and it's even different from the crime in Maryland which is only a few miles from where I live. For years it didn't make sense to me.

We have never had our house broken into in Virginia. Not even an attempt. It's a much better house than we had in California, and we have more belongings. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my son bought a rental property. What I didn't mention is that it's in Maryland. The house was broken into within the first week of his ownership. He replaced the windows and door locks, and it was broken into again as soon as he was finished. After that, he did what almost everyone else in the area did. He put bars on the windows. As I drive through Maryland neighborhoods, I see bars on lots of homes. When I drive through Virginia neighborhoods, I rarely see them.

Although we have had no home burglaries, we have had four car breakins. One was when our car was parked in front of a friend's house. "They" stole a bunch of CDs that my son was dumb enough to leave where they could be seen through the car window. The other three times have been in our own driveway! They removed car stereos and a navigation system. I've been baffled. Are these criminals stupid? Why break into the car when we have better stuff in the house? Why not break into the house like they did in Maryland? Home breakins in Maryland and car breakins in Virginia. What's the deal?

Only after a long time did I realize what was going on in the minds of those criminals. People in Maryland don't have better things in their homes than people in Virginia, and Virginians don't have better property in the cars than Marylanders.

The difference is guns.

Maryland has very strict gun control. Law-abiding citizens have to prove that they need a gun to be able to carry one, and it's up to the police to decide whether your reason is "good enough." How about this reason, Maryland: "Because I'm afraid!" Sorry, that's not good enough in Maryland. Consequently, far fewer people in Maryland are armed. In Virginia I don't have to prove any "need" to carry a gun. I can carry it openly or concealed.

Here's the point: In Virginia a criminal can't tell whose armed. There's a fairly good chance that anyone might be. A potential burglar will have to spend some time casing a house to figure out when someone is at home or if the place is occupied by someone who is likely to be unarmed. In Maryland, the burglar can make a pretty good bet that the household is unarmed. In Maryland there's not nearly as much risk in breaking into a house. In Virginia, you can get yourself killed doing that.

Property crimes are much more prevalent in my neighborhood than violent crimes of any kind. It's just too risky to attempt to enter a house. However, a thief can easily tell whether a car is occupied. If he really wants more than a car sterio, he can quickly cross the border into Maryland.

So, to answer the question: "I seriously question (often on my blog) whether arming ourselves is the answer. Does it not lead to a never ending escalation of the very violence that you cite?"
I have to give an emphatic NO. Arming ourselves leads to LESS violence. Nobody in their right mind wants to mess with someone who might be armed.

John Lott understands this. He titled one of this books "More Guns, Less Crime." That was hard to believe, and even counter-intuitive, until I moved and saw what gun control really does. Gun control gives criminals free reign.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Concealed-Carry Reciprocity

It's ridiculous to have to apply for a permit to do something that is my constitutional right. I don't have to apply for a permit to go to the church of my choice or to exercise free speech. My First-amendment rights seem to be rights. My Second-Amendment rights seem to be privileges. Maybe the Bill of Rights should be called The Bill of Rights or Privileges.

I have my concealed-carry permit from Virginia, and I applied for my Utah permit. Why did I have to get a second permit from a state where I don't even live? Because my Virginia permit is only good in states that recognize Virginia's permit. So not only do I have to apply for a permit, I may need several in order to get anywhere. For example, my Virginia permit is recognized in Florida, but until this month it was not recognized in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. So how do I can I feel safe traveling to Florida?

If I have to get a permit to carry a weapon for my own self-defense in the United States, it should be good in all of the "united" states. But until that time, I will have to be satisfied with extending Virginia's reciprocity with other states. This month, Virginia entered a reciprocity agreement with South Carolina. That means that with my Utah permit (which is recognized in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but not in South Carolina) I can now get to Florida.

Today I found out that Virginia established reciprocity with Mississippi, so that's another great step in the right direction, but I wish all states would recognize permits from all other states. Some states, including Arizona and Utah, already do this. I'm grateful for sanity in a few legislatures.

I found out about the VA-MS reciprocity agreement by an email from the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). They are doing a GREAT job in Virginia, and I'm proud to be a member.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Utah Concealed Carry Permit

I just took a class to get the Utah Concealed Carry Permit. A Utah permit is one of the best ones to have, and many organizations throughout the U.S. offer this class. You don't need any prior experience to take the class.

To get a Utah permit, you need the following: the Utah application stamped by a Utah-approved instructor, a fingerprint card (the card should be supplied by your instructor, and if the fingerprints aren't taken during the class, you can get them taken at your local police department), a passport size photo, a photocopy of your driver's license.

Many websites (such as have maps showing which states have reciprocity with yours. Since I am a Virginia resident and have a Virginia permit, the Utah permit gives me an additional nine states where I can legally carry concealed. The Utah permit will be good for five years.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anti Gun Rights to Pro Gun Rights--My conversion

I have been anti-gun all my life. When my sons were little, I wouldn't allow them to ever own a toy gun. But events in the past few years have radically changed my views. It starts with September 11, 2001.

On September 11, my children were in school. I wondered if the teachers had turned on televisions in their classrooms. I wondered what they might be hearing. Most of all I wondered how many children in their classes were directly effected because we live close to Washington, D.C. How many of them lost parents or other relatives? I worried about how frightened my children must be. Needless to say, they were terrified. Even though we live miles from the Pentagon, we could smell the smoke. The children came home from school that day in what looked like a snow flurry except that it wasn’t snow; it was ashes. When I heard that the terrorists were not able to hit their second D.C. target, I wondered “When will they be back with another tactic?” I thought of the various possible scenarios including armed groups coming through our streets.

The following year my children were again terrorized by the “Beltway Sniper.” The sniper was shooting people in front of their own homes as well as in public places. He shot them as they walked into schools and shopping malls. He seemed to prefer areas with quick egress. One of my daughters was attending Cooper Middle School which is located less than a block from the Beltway. Because all K-12 schools in Virginia are “gun-free zones,” I knew that the only person with a gun would be the sniper. The school administration would not be able to protect the students.

My daughter talked about her school day. It is hard to understand that these conditions exist within our U.S. borders:

Day after day the story was the same. She told me that all of the windows in her school were blacked out, and she could not tell whether it was day or night. The school was locked so nobody could get in. The children were not allowed outside for any reason, and all after-school activities were cancelled. The school requested that all children be sent to school on busses. One day I said to her, “I’m glad you feel safe on the bus and in the school, but what about when you’re walking between the bus and the school?” I will never forget her answer, and neither will you. She replied, “The teachers line up between the bus and the school, and we walk between them.” I just started crying as I typed that. Those defenseless teachers had no way to protect the children other than to put their own bodies between the students and any potential bullets.

During that time I tried to stay home as much as possible. I heard that if you got out of your car, you should weave back and forth while walking so that you were a more difficult target. When I had to go to the grocery store, I ran and weaved like a madwoman as I went from my car to the store. I knew that I could not protect myself.

A year or so later, I went to a rental property owned by one of my older sons. On this day my son and I were pulling up to the house. A man ran up to my car and slammed into my window, screaming at me. I was too scared to listen to what he said, and I did not get out of the car. We restarted the car and drove off. Still shaking, I asked my son, “Why do you think he did that?” My son answered, “He was dealing drugs on the corner, Mom, and you looked at him.” I did not remember looking at anyone, but I knew that something as simple as an accidental look could put my life or my children’s lives in danger. I never went back to that neighborhood. I returned to my "safe" home.

My second daughter is very sensitive and more fearful than the others. In 2005 when she applied to colleges, she only considered those in Virginia and Maryland because she didn’t want to be too far from home. Among the best schools, she chose the one where she felt safest. She chose Virginia Tech. You know what happened there. She is still alive, although traumatized. She cried for days on end. She still cries. I remember one time in particular. She was sobbing, ”Look at what one person can do. Look at how many lives he changed–the 25,000 students at Virginia Tech, the more than 50,000 people in the surrounding community, the families, the friends. Look at what one person can do!” I said, “Yes, and conversely, look at what one person can do.” She immediately understood what I meant and said, “I have thought about that, and I wonder what I’m supposed to do with my life.”

It is well known that criminals, terrorists, and psychopaths choose victims who are likely to be unarmed. The problem with Virginia Tech is that it’s another “gun-free zone, ” which should be more correctly called a "criminal protection zone." The killer, Cho, wanted to do the most damage possible, and he reportedly was armed with 400 rounds of ammunition so that he could carry on for a long time. NOBODY could stop him. The entire campus is unarmed, so they had to wait for someone to come from the outside to stop his rampage. It was only when the police arrived that Cho realized he couldn’t go on, and he shot himself. If he knew in advance that students were likely to be armed, he may never have tried, or if he did, he would not have been able to kill as many people before someone stopped him.

Again, an unarmed teacher knew the only way he could save his students was to put his own body between them and the gunman. Professor Liviu Librescu blocked the door to his classroom so that his students could jump out the window. A survivor of the Holocaust, Librescu clearly had the will to live. He was shot several times through the door and lost his life saving his students.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech was the final straw. I was not going to be a victim anymore. My children were not going to be victims anymore.

I took my first gun safety class, and I got my first concealed carry permit. Some people may be surprized that I have changed. I am surprized that some of them haven't.