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From "Anti-gunner" to "Firearms Instructor" in Four Months

Through the Looking Glass and Back Again

From "Anti-gunner" to "Firearms Instructor" in Four Months

by Susan Erline White

May 6, 2002 -- In December 2001, I was a member of the "Brady Bunch" and a woman afraid of having my father's guns in my home. By April 19, 2002, I had applied for a concealed carry license, been certified as a pistol instructor, had purchased my own 9mm Beretta, and had applied for CHL instructor training. This story tells something of my change in path from living in fear to proactively committing myself to promoting self-defense education and gun rights activism ...

My darkest days began in mid 1980, at the age of about 21, after I was attacked by three white supremacist males who were suspicious about my knowledge of some of their activities. One of them held a gun to my head as I was beaten. That experience sent me into years of depression, of hiding in warehouse jobs, and moving from place to place with fear as my constant companion.

As time passed and I realized I needed to take control and get my life back, I became involved with a local Jewish community and the light began to shine again in my life as I shared many years living with a Holocaust survivor named Sarah. I interacted with other survivors and listened to stories, watched as they carried on with living after such horrendous psychological and often physical trauma -- we laughed, and sang, danced and cried, often in one evening... I started to put things in perspective and live again. By 1990, I was enrolled in college and in the next ten years completed my bachelors degree, two masters degrees and received professional certification in my field of study. During this time, my political activities had been based on fear that had rendered me very much in favor of virtually all gun control legislation and I voted and funded politicians and organizations who supported gun control initiatives. All seemed well until I was forced to think once more, not only about the my past ... but about the societal ramifications of supporting gun control initiatives.

After moving my mother into a retirement facility, I sold the family home and had to bring family belongings to my home. Among these belongings were my father's ammunition and guns. It was not until I began handling the guns and had them in my home that nightmares returned and flashbacks occurred -- all kinds of subtle mind-trash.

Fate entered the picture. Within month or so of all this "stuff" happening in my mind, I fortuitously accepted an invitation to lunch from a consultant with whom I had worked on a project. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was gun owner and staunch Second Amendment advocate and activist. I soon casually learned that he owned guns and I offered him my father's ammunition and guns. I was desperate to get the guns out of my house due to a fear of having them there. This kind man protested and began to try to educate me concerning my self-defense, but I was adamant in my desire to get the ammo and guns off my property. 

In February 2002, under protest, he took possession of my father's guns, but continued to question me about why possession of firearms bothered me so. My friend continued to question me and share some of the statistics compiled by John Lott concerning gun related issues. I started to seriously think and probe into the nature of my fear, and over time I began to see how that fear had affected my philosophical and political activities. During this time, my friend and his son invited me to their family farm and I shot a pistol for the first time in twenty years. 

In March 2002, I began reflecting on my psychological, philosophical, and political stances concerning possession of firearms, and my research and work on overcoming my fear of possessing a firearm began to escalate exponentially. I came across the JPFO website and landed on Dr. Sarah Thompson's Article, "Raging Against Self-Defense." This was a difficult article to read and apply to myself, but well worth the internal struggle. The logic, reason, and presentation of the facts and statistics exercised by gun rights advocates in their debate and discourse puts the uninformed and overly emotional rhetoric of gun control advocates to shame.

Having internalized much in a short period of time, I put my re-found understanding into action and marched myself down to the local indoor shooting range, paid for basic pistol instruction and began shooting. I decided to apply for a conceal carry permit, and did so. I decided that I wanted to be able to teach basic pistol to other women who might have the same aversion or fear of firearms as I had, so I became certified as an instructor through the NRA. I purchased my own handgun from another woman who took the pistol instructor training and was influenced by her and the Range Officer to apply for CHL instructor training that will take place in August 2002. 

Along with simply overcoming my own trauma-based fear of possessing a firearm, I began to read about the deadly impact of gun control legislation historically, and the impact such legislation currently has on American liberty -- the outright infringement of our individual right to bear arms. I reintroduced myself to basic civics and the understanding that Western Civilization has at its foundation a cumulative set of declarations and laws that evolved over time and are rooted in an understanding and respect for the most ancient wisdom concerning the rights of all citizens to life, liberty and property. At the very heart of these laws lay the doctrine and wisdom collected over centuries of living, colonizing, metropolis building and the reality of war and the enslavement and/or extermination of mass populations of people by the force of governments. Over time, it has been well understood that a government's tyranny does not begin until there has been a concentrated and well-orchestrated movement to disarm citizens. Early historians, philosophers and religious leaders held a deep understanding of the mechanisms that drive the evolution of cultures, cities, and governments, and it is out of this understanding that religious and political doctrine evolved to inform and guide civilizations. These doctrines were written on parchment, conveyed by word of mouth, translated, cherished and passed from one generation to the next. The right to self-defense lay at the core of this wisdom in that there exists for all an unalienable right to freedom from harm. This right to self-defense is the ultimate right of all individuals to preserve life, regardless of race, religion, cultural background, or gender.

In the wisdom of our forebears, we have in this country a Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment Right states that, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed". In the 20th century, we have born witness to and noted in our history texts account after account of mass extermination of people. What most people fail to understand, however, is that the precursor to these events of extermination came the disarmament of citizens, sometime specific groups, through the legislative vehicle of "gun control." This "gun control" legislation surfaced in the form of penal codes, decrees, ordinances and acts which required permitting, collection of lists of gun owners by the government officials, bans on possession of handguns, and in many cases lead to firearm confiscation.

I contacted the Second Amendment Sisters (at the suggestion of my consultant friend) and began reading articles and networking in cyberspace with some of these folks. When I became more grounded in some basic information, I ordered Aaron Zelman and Richard Stevens's book, "Death By Gun Control, the Cost of Victim Disarmament" and have become increasingly convinced that radical thinking and action are needed to educate fellow citizens about the reality of the threat to our freedom and liberty posed by gun control initiatives.

I've recently received and currently reading Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman's, "The State vs. the People: The Rise of the American Police State." These ideas may be too radical for an initial encounter by those testing the Second Amendment waters. In fact, too early an introduction to these issues could have a negative effect, if the fear of the firearm has not first been neutralized. Eliminating fear of the firearm amongst a large voting population (females and minorities) is a first step. The reason and logic of supporting the Bill of Rights will evolve for itself once the fear of the firearm is vanquished from the psyches of so many ill-informed, traumatized, or apathetic citizens.

To people who have an inordinate fear of guns:  If you currently believe that you are in favor of gun control legislation, I encourage you to examine your deepest self to determine if there is some fear or misinformation that drives your philosophical and political view about firearms. I now have a clear knowledge that most gun owners and gun rights advocates are people who are actively seeking to protect my Second Amendment right (protect our Bill of Rights), and are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-gender group. Gun rights advocates not only tend to be well educated, but act on their strong respect for our Constitutional rights. The gun rights advocacy network reflects the diversity of the people of this nation, a fact most often concealed by "anti-gun" propaganda, in which Second Amendment advocates are depicted as the stereotypical "commando," "racist," or "gun nut." This could not be further from the truth and I reflect that reality.

The transformation process is not without struggle and cost, but it can be much more graceful and easy if you stick to reason and logic -- and question what you currently hold as true. Your family, friends, and co-workers -- used to "the other you" -- might balk at your newfound understanding and passion concerning your second amendment rights and your voicing of concern over legislation that threatens our liberty. In their confusion, they may turn a deaf ear or shut you out for a while. Stand firm in your transformation and you will find yourself in wonderfully sane and good company.

Related Reading:

Archives for People Who Oppose Firearms Freedoms