Forty-nine completely innocent people were murdered today less than three miles from where I live in Orlando, and nearly 50 more were brutally shot and injured in what has been one of the worst mass shootings in the history of the United States. I won’t post this for several days, because I’m still digesting the horror of it – whether it was in my own neighborhood or across the globe – and I don’t want to immediately immerse myself in the political and social debate of guns that is currently raging across traditional and social media. But it’s sadly ironic that this shooting took place on the very weekend we chose to launch our new business dedicated to women who shoot and embrace guns.
One of my anti-gun friends asked me today “how does it make you feel that you’re opening a business that supports guns in light of everything that happened?” I felt the question was asked intentionally in a very self righteous and condemning tone, but it did give me opportunity to think about her perfectly fair question and make me reflect on how indeed I did feel. An older woman I met at the gun show yesterday stopped by our booth today for a second purchase and stated it perfectly. She said “we had planned on staying home for a leisurely Sunday, but when we woke up to the news this morning, we said `we need to go to the gun show.’” It highlighted to me the complete polar opposition of perspectives and how differently something like this means to each individual.
My friend’s first response to this tragedy was: ban all guns, and at a MINIMUM ban assault rifles (regardless of whether or not she knew or even understood the definition of an assault rifle and the particular rifle used in this incident), because to her THAT is what will make our world safe. On the other hand, this woman at the gun show’s first response was “we need to focus on protecting ourselves.” I didn’t engage in a debate with my friend (I rarely do, because I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to change someone’s opinion on the matter once it’s made up, and disappointingly most people speak on topics they actually know very little about). I simply stated that I was very excited about our launch and the response we had gotten from customers and attendees at the gun show. I got the feeling she was disappointed that I wasn’t more defensive or that she didn’t make me feel badly about my decision.
I understand both ends of the spectrum on guns, and obviously my personal belief is that I 100% support the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and our right to bear arms, and even more importantly in situations like this, MY first response is “thankfully, I know I have a weapon I can use to try to defend myself and others if the need ever arises – at least I’ll have a chance.” I believe that if someone else were legally carrying a firearm inside that club, there may have been far less casualties.
I choose not to be a victim. I choose not to blame inanimate objects for destruction and problems in society. I choose to be a legal gun owner, and in response to my friend, I choose to open a business that supports my belief and passions.
My heart goes out to the victims and families of this and every other act of terror and senselessness. One of the downsides to having all the freedoms we hold so dearly in America is that sometimes those same freedoms are used against us. Sadly, I know it will happen again, somewhere, sometime, but I thank God that I am lucky enough live in a country that guarantees me the right to protect my own life if and when that happens.