Victors, Not Victims - Christine's Reflections Following San Bernardino Attack

The text alert hit my phone a little after 11 am yesterday. Active shooter in San Bernardino, California. Calling my husband at work to find out what was going on (not even thinking to turn on the TV), he told me where the situation was. I breathed a little easier – a good 15-20 minutes away from both of us. The boys and I were about to head out to run errands in Fontana so I did not have immediate concerns for our safety. Something caused me to turn on the TV before we left, just to see if there was more information. I watched, waiting… waiting… waiting to hear the shooter had been apprehended. It took about 15 minutes for me to realize what wasn’t being stated clearly just yet: the suspects got away.

            Got away? Where are they?

Through my training and studies, I knew this situation was unusual. TV reports of two or three shooters? Body armor? Pipe bombs? At a center providing services for the disabled? No suicide mission confronting the police? This was not a single shooter with an ax to grind—this was something bigger. Without knowing the status of the shooters, for our safety I decided errands would wait. And then, like most of our community, I sat glued to the TV the rest of the day, praying.

I woke up this morning to a plethora of blame game articles and comments. I woke up to some of my own friends calling for gun control, blaming the NRA, and spitting the words “America’s gun obsession” through clenched teeth. I wanted to post my own rant, but why would they listen to me when they believe I’m part of the problem? What they might not know is that just four years ago, I would have had the frothiest mouth among them. I was an anti-gunner.

Guns were the cause of all evil. If we could get rid of guns, this violence would stop happening. Why do so many people have guns? You’re seriously scared to go to the grocery store? Why won’t we pass stricter gun laws to stop this insanity?

In 2009, I had an extremely volatile argument about firearms with a family member. Without delving too much into personal matters, we didn’t speak for three years because of it. He could not see my point of view, and I sure as hell was not going to see his. As a matter of fact, shortly after our first child was born, I forced my husband to get rid of his gun. I didn’t want it in the house. But then one night, the first week of December 2012, my husband was out of town and I thought I heard someone in the house. I awoke with a start, panicked. And my imagination took off like a freight train.

I’m too embarrassed to share the horrible thoughts that went through my head while hiding under my sheets, breathing as little as possible, straining to hear these possible invaders. I lived in Daytona Beach, Florida during the Deltona Massacre of 2004 so I had plenty of ideas to draw from. Let’s just say that a horror movie wouldn’t come close to the carnage I envisioned.

I decided to come up with a plan. How can I protect our children? What do I have? A heavy glass lamp next to the bed?  Well, grab it through its center, swing it, and knock someone upside the head.

And then what? What if there are two intruders? Three?

Fortunately there were no intruders that night but it was a wakeup call. Not just about our family’s protection but about my own fear. Fear of the unknown had me paralyzed. Fear of the unknown had my imagination going a mile a minute. Fear of the unknown was creeping its way into my home.

My husband and I realized soon thereafter that as parents we are tasked with the protection of our children and the protection of our own precious lives that God gave us, but we agreed we were failing in that particular mission. We decided it was time to purchase a firearm for the protection of our home.

But we were not about to run to the gun store, slap down a credit card, and wait dutifully for 10 days for the state of California to decide we were approved. We decided to get training because we were not going to bring a firearm into our home without knowing how to store it and use it safely and responsibly.

In the years since, I have taken countless trainings and have even become a certified instructor through the NRA and The Well Armed Woman. That’s a long way to come in just three years, but I’m here as living proof to tell you that it is okay to change your mind on gun control. In my experience, that change came on that night in December, thinking about the ugly stuff, the horrible scenarios no one wants to consider.

Because of the events in San Bernardino, I had a friend contact me today saying she is considering buying a gun. She has no experience. What should she do? The answer: training. TRAINING. Whether you’re new, whether you’re seasoned, the answer will always be training. Training is preparing to win the fight. Remember, you will not rise to the occasion, you will fall back on your training.

I am not going to discuss the San Bernardino shooters or their motivations; what should have been done or what could have been done. That’s for greater minds than mine to sort out. But I will say whether it’s workplace violence, domestic terrorism, international terrorism, or the drug dealer down the street, evil exists. There will always be evil in the Hearts of Man and there will be no legislating that into extinction.

I was angry at what I saw my friends post today in the wake of what happened in my community. You want to make it harder for me to procure the tools I need to defend my family? The state of California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Those gun laws did not stop yesterday’s attack or any of the shootings that occur in this state. I know it’s cliché but criminals do not follow laws. The only people that follow laws are law-abiding citizens like myself and the many responsible gun owners I know. For some reason, these law-abiding citizens, the millions of members of the NRA, and the 2nd Amendment of our own Constitution are being blamed for yesterday’s attack when there are only two people to blame. New gun legislation will do nothing to make law-abiding citizens safer. The laws will only leave us defenseless against those who do not follow laws.

It is interesting (now that I am on the other side of the fence) that my anti-gun friends think I live in fear and that’s why I “cling” to my guns. That I fear the man who barricaded himself in his home down the street two years ago, forcing SWAT to take over our neighborhood. That I fear the person who broke into our neighbor’s house last week. That I fear the criminals who are dancing through the revolving door of California’s criminal justice system.

These notions couldn’t be further from the truth. I am aware of the dangers that face us each day and through training I am prepared to meet them. I am aware of the fact that while my chances of being a victim are slim, I am prepared if that day should come. I am aware and prepared so that I do not live in fear. There is a problem and I don’t have the answers, but I am confident that I will do what is necessary to stack the odds in my favor. I will give myself and my family the chance to be victors and not victims.

My prayers continue for everyone who was affected by yesterday’s attack. My heart breaks with every news story I read of each and every victim. My deepest gratitude is sent to our law enforcement agencies and first responders who have pledged to run into the danger and not away from it. God bless you, San Bernardino.

Written by Christine

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