These days, when I retire in the evening, I am afforded the comfort of assured security. I rest peacefully, my thoughts centered firmly on my many blessings, the butterfly tickles indicating the life growing inside of me, and my renewed confidence that America can weather most political storms, only to emerge stronger than before.
What brings me such peace of mind? Is it the strapping giant I call my husband, nestled in the bed alongside of me? To a degree, yes. Is it my comfortable home, located in a quiet neighborhood? To a degree, yes. Is it the security alarm that monitors my home continuously, warning against unwanted intrusion? To a degree, yes. Ultimately, the source of my peaceful rest is the 12 Gauge 28″ Accu-Choke shotgun and case of 3″ shells under my bed.
I did not always know this level of serenity.
In 1989, I decided to return to college to finish my Bachelors degree. I accepted a position for which many have rightly earned spots in Heaven; I became a Burger King night manager. While far from prestigious, it allowed me to work almost 40 hours a week and still attended college full-time.
In January of 1990, just four weeks into my new position, I experienced a typical Murphy’s Law evening… what could go wrong did go wrong. When I left the safe confines of my store, it was very late, very dark, and I was alone.
Well, not really.
Two armed robbers were waiting for me in the parking lot. At gunpoint, I was forced back into the store, forced to turn off the alarm, forced to open the safe, and then forced to the floor of my restaurant. The memory of the gun barrel shoved into the back of my head, as I lay on the floor face down, remains firmly impressed on my mind.
Thankfully, the robbers did not fulfill their threat to blow my brains out; I had complied without question, survival instantly becoming the sole focus of my being.
In the still sickening moments that followed their departure, I pressed every panic button in the store, retrieved what was left of the smashed phone, plugged it in, and desperately called the police. My words were tearfully jumbled, but recognizable, until I saw headlights swinging into the parking lot. In nanoseconds, my tone leapt from controlled distress to hysterical, rising two full octaves to a begging soprano as I screamed, “I have to hide! I have to hide! They’re coming back in to kill me!”
Thankfully, it was the police; they had come to my “rescue.”
In the grueling hours that followed, filled with police tape, fingerprint dust, and endless questions about the evening’s events, I was asked not once, not twice, but four separate times if the robbers had harmed me in any way. The last person to approach me with this question was a female detective, who gently escorted me to a private corner at the back to the store. “No,” I assured her, “I would tell you if they did. But I must ask, you are the fourth person to ask me about this. Why?”
I later learned that out of 14 stores, I was the only manager that was not assaulted. These robbers were not just robbers; they had raped, shot, and beaten other managers and employees. Apparently, at some point when they were “casing” my store, I must have done or said something that made them see me as a “human being.”
In short, I was lucky. Very lucky. Extremely lucky. Unbelievably lucky.
I was back at my job within 48 hours. I was convinced that if I didn’t return, I would have allowed the robbers to take more from me than a few lousy dollars.
I didn’t think of the robbery until four years later, when my husband began a new job that required him to work the graveyard shift. Suddenly, I was alone in the evenings, with no alarm to our apartment and no warning of an entry save my hearing. I became acquainted with insomnia and sleep depravation, jumping at every noise, fearful at every turn. When a rapist claimed his fourth victim in our area, I lived on caffeine, cigarettes, and an average of 3 hours sleep a night unless my husband was home.
On one evening in particular, my body simply gave out. I crashed upon returning home from work, only to be awoken at 5:30 a.m. by the shifting of my bed. I snapped out of sleep and lurched up from under the covers, recognizing that someone was climbing into the hazy darkness of the bed alongside of me. My full-throated scream woke my neighbors, one of whom banged on the ceiling of my apartment while the other called the police.
Thankfully, it was my husband, considerately trying not to wake me as he came home from work.
Why am I telling you this? I want you to understand that I didn’t purchase my weapon in a knee-jerk reaction to my “victimization.” It took me several years to see guns as trusted friends, not hated foes. I had to move past emotion to a place where logic prevails; I had to stop thinking like a victim, and start thinking like a survivor.
Moreover, I want to make people understand that anti-gun laws do no deter crime. This statement is the absolute truth for two reasons:
Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law.
Guns do not have a life of their own; they do not fly about randomly committing crimes. Guns are simply tools; they require human beings to operate.
If the anti-crime activists want to seriously address the issue, they should call for the arming and proper training of all law-abiding citizens. If they seriously want to level the “playing field,” they should make sure law-abiding citizens are equipped with the right gear to survive in the “game.”
The fact that some anti-gun groups call for the wholesale confiscation and elimination of guns tells me one thing…they want to see me naked in my desperation, clutching a telephone, begging for the police to come before the intruder violates my home, my body, my child. To secure their peace of mind, they would leave me exposed to certain victimhood, rather than allowing me to empower myself and defend my God-given right to live and to protect my family.
I have just four words for folks like that: Over My Dead Body. I will not play the victim for you. I will not trust the future of my security to things like “luck”. I will not be a statistic, just so you can feel as if you have “done something.”
My days of being a helpless female are over.