How I Became an Anti-Gunner, Part 2 – The Conversion

Jeremy S. for TTAG

[ED: This is the second part of a two-part article. See part one here.]

By Bill Frady

After my unfortunate role as the teenage trigger man in a negligent discharge that almost claimed the life of my friend, I was forced to deal with what happened alone. Not because my parents didn’t care, but simply because I internalized what happened.

In 1976, there was no Internet. Cable TV was in its infancy. I had never heard of Jeff Cooper. I was in a new city with no friends. There was only me and I blamed the gun, as well as myself.

After all, if there hadn’t been a gun I wouldn’t have shot my friend. And I wouldn’t have felt so guilty and ashamed. Ipso facto.

My first step on my journey towards becoming a gun rights advocate happened in October, 1983.

Terrorists had bombed the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon. Suicide bombers detonated two enormous truck bombs claiming the lives of 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and three Army soldiers. The blast injured sixty Americans, some of them horrifically.

Like all anti-gunners, I believed it was OK for the military to train with and use firearms. I was mystified as to why the guards at those barracks were carrying weapons, but no ammo. A warning flag dropped inside my mind. I ignored it.

Whatever the reason, I believed war was on the horizon. With the draft still a relatively fresh memory, I decided to enlist. I figured that by volunteering, I would have a little input as to what I would do while working for Uncle Sam.

Fast forward to April of 1986. The US had just bombed Libya. We who were stationed in Europe were put on alert. It was never proven, but the bombing seemed to lead to some retaliatory incidents for those of us who lived off post. About a week later, I experienced my first DGU (defensive gun use). But I didn’t play the part of defender.

Parking my car—with its US Army Europe tags—outside of our apartment was like a bright neon sign advertising that a soldier lived there. Three Libyan males tried to gain entry to our apartment. They were met by my landlady, the jovial and maternal Frau Wagner…and her trusty Walther PP Super.

The visitors decided to turn tail. Having been on duty for the previous 24 hours, I slept through the entire encounter. While I was thankful that Frau Wagner had a gun to defend my life and the lives of my comrades, I still didn’t feel the need to arm myself. Not yet anyway.

My road to Damascus began in February 1985, when I learned about the Long Island Railroad shooting.

A man named Colin Ferguson boarded a commuter train and opened fire on unsuspecting passengers. Ferguson murdered six people and wounded nineteen.

During the media hysteria that followed, the press put Ferguson’s Ruger P89 front and center. Like so many spree killers, Ferguson purchased the gun legally (including a 15-day waiting period). He had “high capacity” magazines (15 rounds)! He carried 160 rounds of ammo!

But it wasn’t the gun. After watching Ferguson defend himself in court, I knew the shooter was insane. I kept picturing myself on that train. Would I have been as brave as Michael O’Connor, Kevin Blum and Mark McEntee, the men who tackled Ferguson and stopped the bloodshed?

I asked myself a simple question: why didn’t anyone shoot back? Statistically someone should have been armed. Relying on courageous disarmed citizens to stop the bloodshed during a break in the slaughter didn’t strike me as “common sense.”

I knew New York gun control laws—laws that I had supported— had left Ferguson’s victims defenseless. They were lambs to the slaughter. And all the media could seem to talk about was the gun.

After I was honorably discharged from the military in July, 1990, I went to work in the delivery business. Milk, beer, bread, early morning hours. I worked alone.

In 1993, a criminal abducted one of my customers from a convenience store. She endured a horrific two-day sexual assault. She was taken five minutes after I’d left her store.

I wished I’d been there to help her. But what could I have done? Anything I could have.

I felt the same guilt I had felt when I’d shot T decades earlier—only different. In this case I wish I’d have been there to stop a crime. Ready, willing and most importantly able to do so. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was heading towards a sort of tipping point.

In 1994, my wife and I bought our first house in what turned out to be a neighborhood crack hub. Trouble never knocked on our door, but it was all around us. I couldn’t sleep thinking about the possibility of someone mistakenly—or intentionally—invading our house. I couldn’t let my wife suffer the same fate as my customer had endured the year before.

My anti-gun fervor was gone, melted in the crucible of my own self-interest and my desire for other law-abiding Americans to be able to protect themselves from criminals and crazies.

I knew, better than anyone, that guns are dangerous. But I realized that life is dangerous. And some dangers are worse than others.

I bought a GLOCK 22.

I know most of you believe in keeping gun ownership on the down-low, but I let certain people in the neighborhood know that I was legally armed, trained and prepared to defend myself and my family. I’m sure it was a deterrent.

As a conservative talk show host focusing on gun rights, I know that violence can strike anywhere. Closer to home, I’ve received credible death threats. Everyone in my family carries now.

In 2009, I finally hooked up with the boy I’d shot again, thanks to the magic of Facebook. T’s forgiven me. We’re still tight to this day. I feel very fortunate that the ND wasn’t any more damaging than it was.

It’s been a long road becoming the pro-Second Amendment, pro-gun, pro-freedom man I am today, but I finally know the truth about guns. They are a tool that must be respected. Without firearms we, as a people, as individuals, are defenseless. And that’s no place to be.

 

Bill Frady is the host of Lock N Load radio. 

comments

  1. avatar GS650G says:

    Watching looters after Hurricane Andrew help themselves to people’s belongings in Dade County while homeowners stood there defenseless watching convinced me 911 is not going to cut it.
    Seeing a city come apart because of a court ruling or a OIS of a black by a white cop showed me how close to losing control we really are.

    Many people have their decision point to reference. Others just grew up shooting and hunting with guns all round the house. Then there are those who lived in gated secure communities who think the only thing you need to do is call for help. Ask Kitty Genovese how that worked out, except she’s dead.

  2. avatar dph says:

    “In 2009, I finally hooked up with the boy I’d shot again, thanks to the magic of Facebook. ”
    So because of Facebook you shot him again?

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      Well who hasn’t wanted to shoot somebody because of Facebook?

      1. avatar Marcia Mason says:

        LOL !!!!!! Like Zuck maybe?

        1. avatar Chris. says:

          I wasn’t gonna name names…

      2. avatar Aaron says:

        I wish there were upvote buttons for you two jokers!

        1. avatar Chris. says:

          FINALLY! Somebody that appreciates my humor! Please, tell my wife – I really am funny. sometimes.

  3. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    Not sure “hooked up with” is the best term in this context.

    1. avatar Chris. says:

      You never know… Wink Wink…

    2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      Maybe “reconnected” is a better word. I think of “hooked-up with” as a sexual encounter.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        Chef don’t judge…

        *Wink*

    3. avatar Unpopular Opinion says:

      Get your heads out of the gutter and just read the words. Projecting is the problem here.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        You can grow up if you want to, but not me. I won’t do it!;-)

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          *Fist-Bump* 😉

        2. avatar Unpopular Opinion says:

          Haha hey man I try my hardest not to. In the meantime I’ll be hooking up with my blow-hard friends to bang out some serious discussion about moist brownies and other words that dirty-minds have stolen.

  4. avatar Michael says:

    I support this tool in the exercise of his First Amendment. This doesn’t mean I need to read the 2nd part of his Bravo Sierra sob story. F-K-A

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Uhm… you might want to.

    2. avatar MEDIC says:

      That’s hilariously ignorant. I didn’t read the first part, but you were (effectively, and as intended) set up.

  5. avatar Bradley Carpenter says:

    There appears to be some mistake in this story about when the Long Island Railroad incident occurred with Colin Ferguson. That incident occurred during the Clinton administration, not during the time when Reagan was in office. Therefore, your date of this incident is about ten years off.

  6. avatar Tim says:

    I ran over a squirrel once with my Buick. Now I’m convinced that anyone who drives a car is literally Hitler.

    Disagree? You’re Hitler x 2.

  7. avatar Scott C says:

    Maybe if this guy had followed the most basic firearm safety rules it wouldn’t have happened in the first place, just saying.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Well that’s swell…nothing profound. I shot some as a kid. My neighborhood going to hell and advancing age “convinced” me to be a gun owner. Oh and having money. NEVER was an anti. No reason for a ” 2 parter” post😏

  9. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    I was critical at first, but I must say, thank you, for sharing this story. I’m sure it was a hard lesson to learn as most lessons are. I purchased my first firearm because of theft and arson in my neighborhood while I was in college dating my now wife. I was never anti gun, I just didn’t care until I criminal activity was so close I could no longer ignore it.

  10. avatar M. Murcek says:

    Takes a big person to blame the wetware instead of the hardware. What a hard road to go down, glad he seems to have gotten the right answer…

  11. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Assuming that the author’s story is true, it is simply another example of a “road to Damascus moment”.

    It is exceedingly easy to dismiss something that has never happened to you and has never affected you. When something actually happens to you and affects you, you will often times suddenly realize the gravity of the situation and change your position accordingly.

    Perhaps that should be our strategy going forward: try to get gun-grabbers to really and truly visualize in graphic detail (as realistically as possible) themselves in a situation where they REALLY need a firearm.

  12. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    So he’s off a few years on Fergeson, it’s a good example of what a good guy with a gun could have stopped.

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    I liked shooting from the first time I tried it, at age 8 popping off gallery shorts and winning a stuffed animal for my marksmanship.

    But I never realized what a$$h0les anti-gunners were until once of my neighbors told me very disapprovingly that he hated guns because their only purpose was killing. That was my epiphany. Now I’m as anti-anti as I am pro gun.

  14. avatar Alan says:

    Both you and your friend are very lucky that your carelessness did not have fatal consequences. As to the rest of it, it appears that some lessons were learned.

  15. avatar idaho hiker says:

    I grew up in a house with guns but were not taught in a classroom setting but by example. My brother and I don’t remember being taught the Cooper rules but we for sure knew that the barrel end of the gun was not to be pointed at anyone. It was just common sense. I also know that teenagers need close adult supervision when it comes to guns since I have had both teens and guns together in one place. Teens start joking around at the dumbest times but after quite a few sessions at the range, my teens, now all grown up, had/have a deep respect for guns and what they can do and have their own. Like Ayoob says, you have to gunproof the kid instead of kidproof your guns.

  16. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    I volunteer at a gun range when some youth groups come to shoot. We have a veteran with every youth when they are shooting . They are not allowed to touch a firearm without an adult immediately adjacent.

    There are safety classes before and we have people talking to the kids who are not shooting.

    We work hard to make it safe and fun, and they all want to come back again.

    We have even converted some of the “reluctant” mothers and had them shooting 22s and they were much more relaxed after that.

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