By March Twisdale
The path leading to my first gun purchase has been long. It began in the summer of 1992. I was a young, healthy, and carefree college student, riding my bike along the American River Bike Trail in Sacramento, CA every day, to and from college, work, and just for the fun of it. Until the rapes, attacks, and bike-jackings started.
The common advice, for young women in particular, was simple: Stop. Stop using the bike trails. Stop riding alone. Stop riding entirely. Just stop.
The trouble with that advice is that it teaches a person (especially a young woman) to accept the loss of liberty for the sake of perceived security. I stress “perceived,” because riding on the road meant you might get hit by a bus. Driving a car during rush-hour traffic meant you were more likely to die in a car accident. Only riding when you could bring along a friend meant getting out of shape, making it harder to ride away from an attack – and even then, the front page story might end up being about two girls who didn’t make it home. How is that better?
So, when the world told me to lock up my bike and give up on hundreds of miles of convenient, smooth, and useful bike trails, I said, “No way.”
Yet, I’m not stupid. I love life! And safety is important. The trick is to increase one’s safety, protect one’s life, and make intelligent choices – without giving up on freedom. Live smart, not scared. I began to read the news stories about the attacks along the river. It wasn’t just women. Men were also getting pistol-whipped, or robbed at gunpoint, the thieves riding away on bikes worth many thousands of dollars. Soon, I noticed a pattern. Then, I formed a defensive plan.
Around the same time, another deadly crime began to gain traction in the Sacramento area. Carjackings, where the assailant would walk up to a car, stopped at a red light, hop into the passenger seat, and threaten the female driver with a deadly weapon. First, she’d drive to an ATM machine, and then she’d drive to a deserted location, where she was inevitably raped and murdered.
Okay. Now what? As a female human, was I supposed to not drive, ever? Or not drive at night? Or always have another person in the car with me? Like a woman chaperoned by a male family member while shopping in Saudi Arabia? No, no, no!
Again, I read, listened to, and watched all the reports. And again, within the emerging patterns, I found an answer to the problem. A potential way to avoid what was becoming a sadly predictable outcome. And I rehearsed. I practiced. I ran these scenarios through my head, again and again, until I believed I would act instantly, in a way that increased the odds of my own survival. I trained for the moment when my actions – not those of an assailant – would make the difference between life or death.
These two years were the beginning of my evolution as a gun owner.
Not because I went out and bought a gun. I didn’t. In my evaluation, for the crimes I sought to avoid, a handgun wouldn’t help. What would help, in these two situations and many others to come, was a deep realization that I have a role to play in my own protection. Our world is dangerous. Pretending it’s not, and expecting others to keep me safe, is risky and illogical.
Personal responsibility is the number one reason I chose to become a gun owner. What’s your reason?
This series will touch upon many aspects of this worthy conversation. If you are a gun owner and have thoughts to share, feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.