Updated: Dec 8, 2019
I struggled with that title for quite a bit. Everyone has a different image when they hear activist. Some are not pleasant. Even so, that's what I am. An activist for constitutional rights, specifically, but certainly not limited to, the 2nd Amendment.
On March 3rd, 1994, I was a democrat. On March 5th, I was very pro-2A, though I still believed that liberals believed in and would stand up for our constitutional freedoms. But this story isn't about left or right or how I became a conservative. It's about what you all are here to read. My story on how I became a staunch 2nd amendment supporter. I didn't just wake up and say, I think I'll become a 2A activist today. No, it was much messier.
Growing up, I lived in a very abusive home. My stepdad was an alcoholic ex-highway patrolman. Mad at the world for what were ultimately his choices in life, one of them drinking on the job, he was abusive and took it out on me, my mom, and my brother. Not knowing any other life, I allowed myself to be in an abusive relationship, with, let's just call him 'Jim'. I was 17 and he claimed he loved me. By the time I was almost 19, in November of 1993, I broke up with 'Jim' who was 4 years older than I was. I stayed friends with him, talking frequently, maybe even daily at one point. Soon, I was working two part time jobs to pay for college classes and he and I stopped talking as much. A week passed by without us talking to each other.
On March 4th, 1994, 'Jim' came by my work while I was at lunch. We talked and I told him I was going to be late and that I needed to go. He left and came back a couple of hours later. I was working in children's clothing on the second floor and saw him get off the escalator. If you watch people like I do, you'll see how they walk when they're angry. And, boy, was he angry.
In what I believe was an effort to cling to our relationship, 'Jim' argued with me and said he was moving. Tonight. I might have been 19, but I wasn't dumb. 'Jim' lived with his parents still and I knew they weren't moving that quickly having lived in that house for decades. Not to mention, he didn't say anything about it earlier. Suspecting it was a ruse, I told him to calm down and that I would call him later that night after work. 'Jim' then said, “I love you." He pulled out a .22 and shot me twice. Once in the head and the other in the stomach. Gratefully, God was on my side and I knocked the first shot aimed for the middle of my forehead, causing the bullet to graze the side of my skull. However, I was knocked down. During that time, 'Jim' shot me in the stomach. That one was a through-and-through, nicking my liver (the only internal organ that can regenerate itself). He then shot himself twice (and survived). Security was then on the scene, my coworkers and customers were rushing to my aid or tending to their children, and police was on the way.
'Jim' didn't own the .22 he used; he stole it. It took him at least 30 minutes to drive to his uncle's house (who was at work), the time to break in, and at least 30 minutes back to the mall where I worked. In all of that time, 'Jim' did not stop his plan. This was simply premeditated attempted murder.
Thankfully, I was only in the hospital a week (the food really is that bad). I temporarily lost sight in my right eye, I still have fragments of the bullet in my head. I have a huge keloid scar where they opened me up from the top of my abdomen to the bottom. No feeling in it other than intense itching from time to time due to the keloid. 6 months of headaches and opioids were my life at 19.
Surely he was locked up, you say? If by “locked up,” you mean 10 non-consecutive weekends in the county jail and 7 years probation is “locked up,” then,yes, he was. That's all he got! He only received a slap on the wrist. Plead down to a Class F felony even when he was caught in the act and on video surveillance.
I have no doubt that if I had a gun that day, I would have been the “good guy with a gun.” I mean, when I was face to face with it just 2 feet away, I knocked it out of the line of it's intended target. I wholeheartedly believe people, but especially women, should have some defensive training and absolutely be trained on a gun fitted for you. Then practice and often! But, one thing I don't do. I don't blame guns. Even if 'Jim' had been successful and killed me, you shouldn't blame guns either. They are inanimate objects! I hear you saying, “What is the problem? Where do we start?” People are the cause (mental health, recidivism). Lenient sentencing is the cause (elect more stringent judges). Recidivism is the cause (find ways to reduce it). But guns are never the cause, only a tool. Just like 'Jim.' I want to thank Mom-At-Arms for giving me a platform to tell my story and allowing me to write (a passion of mine) about something dear to me. If you'd like to hear more from me, sign up for the Mom-At-Arms blog and follow me at Twitter @HeatherIsTaken.