By Jessica J.
Allow me to introduce myself. That woman you see breastfeeding her baby at the table in the middle of a crowded restaurant? That’s me. The one walking through the grocery store with that same baby strapped to her? Me again. And the one snobbishly picking through the fruits and vegetables at the local farmer’s market looking for “only the best” to take home and puree into baby food? You guessed it. Me again. I am the quintessential traditional wife and mother. I left a successful and promising career in order to be a stay-at-home-mom, because I genuinely believe that is the best thing for my daughter. Oh, one more thing. The woman who hands over both her license and her concealed carry permit at a road block? That’s me, too . . .
Many others in my position would ask (and some have) how on Earth I can be such an avid supporter of all things natural and yet completely support the right to bear arms. It’s simple. I carry a gun for the same reason that I breastfeed, for the same reason that I make baby food, for the same reason that I left my job to be with my family. I carry a gun because my child’s safety is paramount, and because my own life was given all-new value the day that she was born.
When I was a young girl – not more than ten – my aunt, my uncle and their four children, all younger than me, were held at gunpoint by a man demanding my uncle’s wallet and keys. They escaped physically unscathed, but in recounting the story, both my aunt and my uncle would speak of how completely destitute they’d felt. They spoke of feeling helpless to protect themselves and their children. I knew, even at such a young age, that I’d do whatever it took to avoid ever feeling that way.
My husband was the first to truly introduce me to guns from a tactical viewpoint. Sure, I’d grown up hunting with my dad, but the thought of shooting someone to protect myself was foreign to me. To further complicate things, I was in nursing school at the time, learning how to save lives, not take them. More on that later.
When I started learning to use a gun as a defensive weapon, I presumed I’d use it to wound someone. To stop the fight, but never to do more than that. For years, my husband tried to drill into my head the importance of only pulling a gun if I were truly willing to use it in whatever way necessary to protect myself.
I pacified him with assurances that I was willing to do whatever it took, should the need arise, but I can now admit that I was lying. I wasn’t prepared to take another’s life to save my own. Simply put, I didn’t value my own life above that of another, even one who was seeking to harm me. Two events that are forever embedded in my memory finally changed my mindset.
In November 2011, days before my 24th birthday, a lifelong dream came true. I was pregnant. My husband and I were approaching our third wedding anniversary and had only recently decided to stop preventing pregnancy, so I was very surprised. However, I’d always known that I wanted to be a mother, so my surprise was immediately overtaken by elation. I immediately felt a connection to my child- a connection unlike any I’d felt before. I knew from the moment the test said “positive” that the baby was a girl, and I knew from exactly that moment that I would do absolutely anything for her.
Fast forward thirty-some-odd weeks to the second event that changed me. I’m at work, holding pressure on a gaping gunshot wound to the chest of a seventeen-year-old boy. Remember that career I left? I was an RN in a level two trauma center’s emergency department. During my three years there, I personally attended to no less than two or three dozen victims of gun or knife violence. Not one had had a personal defense weapon, but I digress.
As I was saying, at about 34 weeks pregnant, I found myself trying with all my might to stop the bleeding of a seventeen-year-old boy while the trauma surgeon searched in vain for the source of the blood. In the hallway I could hear both of the boy’s parents sobbing. Their restaurant had been robbed. Having no weapon to protect themselves or their property, they were being taken for all they were worth when their son jumped in and tried to defend them.
He was shot point-blank with a stolen .45. We worked on this boy for hours, pouring in donated blood in a futile attempt to stabilize him enough for surgery. He never had a chance. When I arrived at my car that night, I reached under the seat to check for my own pistol. It was there, but as I leaned over my burgeoning belly, I realized having a pistol in my car wasn’t enough. I applied for my concealed carry permit the next week.
The day my daughter was born, my life took on new meaning. I went from being “just another person” to being someone’s mother. I became completely responsible for another individual. The focus of my life shifted to ensuring that she grows into a successful adult and to preparing her to meet her full potential. That day the value of my life ceased being measured by the value of an individual and began being measured by the value of a mother in a little girl’s life.
When people ask me how I can be such an overprotective mother, yet raise my child while carrying a gun, I fight the urge to ask them how they can aspire to doing the same without one. Contrary to what we’re taught, mothers are at least as responsible for protecting our children as their fathers are. We carry them in our bodies for months, we endure anguish to bring them into the world, then we agonize over every decision in hopes of doing right by them. Shouldn’t protecting them by any means necessary be added to that list?