Do you have a plan? Do you have a plan for if your home becomes infested by snakes, rats, or murder bees?
A plan for a flood?
A plan if the lights go out during a storm?
Do you have a plan for if your home catches on fire?
How about a plan for if your home is invaded by an unwelcome visitor or two... or more?
I thought I had a plan, but after yesterday, I came to the realization that I needed plans FOR MY PLANS.
Becoming a 2nd Amendment Advocate, I have met some of the most awesome people, from so many different backgrounds. People who have some of the most AMAZING stories of survival that you will not hear about often in the mainstream media of today. (No matter how hard we try!)
Rhonda Ezell, who made history and went up against the Chicago Machine to help open paths for Firearms Education in the state of Illinois. (Ezell vs. Chicago) Rhonda is also one of the founders of Chicago Guns Matter and a Delegate for The DC Project.
Melissa Schuster, who survived sexual assault, a broken orbital socket from a beating, and being stabbed 17 times after a home invasion. Now she consults and speaks all over the country. Melissa is also a leader with 1MMAGC as well as a Delegate for The DC Project.
Alexis Moore, a domestic abuse and cyber stalking survivor, turned consultant, author and activist.
Kerry Sloan, a domestic abuse survivor turned activist and firearms instructor who specializes in teaching other domestic violence survivors through her organization, We The Female.
Nikki Goeser, a stalking survivor who's husband was murdered right in front of her... by her stalker, who now works tirelessly with The DC Project to bring awareness.
Lakasha Robbins, an abuse and rape survivor, turned activist and firearms instructor, Co-founder of Massachusetts Women Gun Owners, as well as a Delegate for The DC Project.
I mean... These are just a handful of the women (and there are some men out there) that I have had the HONOR of hearing their stories.
As for me... I don't have a remarkable story of survival... unless you count me getting to work on time in the mornings. I, honestly, just woke up one day, tired of the lies that Gun Control groups push onto the masses... that HIDE stories like those of the people I listed above. I'm just a small town, country bumpkin, Cop's Kid- raised in a farming community around guns all of her life. Other than my upbringing, I do not have a personal experience that dramatically links me to a need of a firearm... not until yesterday.
I have been working on getting certified to become a firearms instructor for a while now, and reason being, is because I know women and men who have been in positions that a firearm saved their lives... or could have made it easier to be saved. Like a lady in the state of Virginia (MY HOME STATE), who about 7 years ago, woke up to find a home intruder standing over her one morning... Note: IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, right before he sexually assaulted her. Or a mom in New Jersey, who's home was broken into by a dude, who beat her in front of her toddler, while her infant slept upstairs. She was even thrown down a flight of steps by her attacker! (Loony Tunes for that kid will have a totally different meaning later in life!)
Gun Control organizations like to make you think... and they've been quite successful in doing so... that guns are evil and they need to be destroyed completely in order to save "all the lives." They push stats and data... but not stats and data in their entirety, to confuse folks. They will argue that in the moment that a firearm is needed, one cannot actively "work" the tool in order to overcome their attacker. My experience yesterday, July 26th, 2020, during a Defensive Shooting class (DFS), will make Gun Control orgs HATE me even more.
Compared to the other stories above... as well as many from those in my DFS class, you'd think I'm pretty privileged in the "not a victim" camp. I wholeheartedly agree! My parents, as well as the "norm" within my hometown community, raised us kids to NOT BE VICTIMS. Not that people consciously raise their kids to be victims or look to be willingly labeled one (though some make you think), that DOES NOT MEAN that we "privileged NON VICTIMS" are safe from ever being such. Letting our guards down, could prove otherwise, but... on the outside... we come across as "lucky."
I met a lady yesterday who had been "jumped" by 4 or 5 other women, that beat her senseless while at work. I met a first time gun owner, who had feared firearms all her life. I met several instructors who were brushing up on their skills. I met a new mom, a deaf & color blind man, a business owner, a disabled man, independent personal trainer, who is also a mom of three, but works late... People from all different backgrounds, and all with an amazing story as to WHY they were taking that class. They value their lives... no differently than I do... I was just there because it was a required class for my instructors certification.
After going over several safety rules/ principles, that we were required to know per home learning before the class, we all loaded up in vehicles and headed to the open air range for the "Live Fire" (actually using the guns and bullets) portion of the class. I'd also like to mention that it was hotter than a whore's cheeks during her first church service. AS SOON as we got out of vehicles, we were all fanning. It was like 99 bagillion degrees out.
We set up and, long story short, we start the instructions. We learned how to manually eject rounds, switch out mags, finger placement, time our shots per a certain distance, increase our speed to make a shot count when our attackers are close, assess situations, determine "Need" to fire, draw from the holster, shoot with safeties, move and shoot...
Let's just say, our day started at 8:30am... it didn't end until around 7pm. So, it wasn't just "some little 8 hour day" of learning "little bits." The instructors were making sure WE LEARNED AND KNEW our instruction. Its hard to explain, but the class didn't teach anyone anything they didn't "already" know. We all know guns can be destructive in the wrong hands. Non Gun Owners can tell you that. The First Time Gun Owner that was in the class with me... that stood beside me during drills... told me, "Even never handling a gun, I know they can be unsafe. Its not rocket science, but that's why I'm here." She even admitted that she considered not coming to the class that morning because she was so afraid of them. She was actually willing to forfeit the non refundable fee of lots of money to take this class during a time where money is not to be forfeited so easily. LOL! That's how scared she was... but she came.
We go through our drills SEVERAL times, until the instructors feel that we "get it." They walk us through a few times, then they let us complete the steps many times on our own- until the trained movements and nature of the drills become natural to us. Typical teaching philosophy that many use to instruct others. We are also suggested (directed) many many times after each instruction, to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. (Training vs. Practice... big difference)
At the end of the class, you're put through a drill, individually, without the rest of your classmates. The instructors set you up in a little area, away from everyone else, and they "walk you through a possibly real life scenario," where you have to react with the skills you've learned in the day. All day long, when it was time for my group and I to go through the team drills, I was one of the first on the firing line. I was so excited to learn more, build upon my already learned skills, as well as to "perfect" others... and just to be with other like-minded folks, that I'd rush to the occasion. One of the instructors, who's also a professional competition shooter, even said I reminded her a lot of herself when she got started. Anxious (in a good way) and determined. Because I consider myself a "forever student" in this advocacy (and life), I took a lot of pride in her saying that. Meant a lot... considering I'm not a "perfect" or a pro shooter, nor am I a "Survivor," like many of the others that were there.
With all of that said, you'd think I was pretty confident in how I'd do with my turn at the final drill. I mean... I used to run restaurants and bars. I have LITERALLY thrown out obnoxious men twice my size, chased down vehicles of individuals who dined and dashed, for either them to stop and pay me... or to get their tag numbers. (I was always packing) I have managed several employees, more hard headed than me... so to bark out orders? I'm perfectly used to it.
After letting a few folks go before me, cause I didn't want to come across as too overzealous, it was my time up at bat. I skipped and smiled big at the instructors... kind of giggling all the way to the designated area for the drill. I get back there and one of the instructors is giving me a preview of what I'm being asked to do. I was like, "Ok! Let's do this!"
Instructor 1: "Great! I'm going to narrate for you. Instructor 2 will be the police dispatcher and Instructor 3 will be our noise maker for the attacker, so to speak."
He has me unload my firearm and place it along with a magazine in a tiny safe, sitting next to an old cell phone (that I was to use to call the po po). Behind me is a folding chair. He then starts the drill...
Instructor 1: "Sit in this chair. (I did.) You're home. You're in your bedroom, chilling... then you hear noises coming from the hall."
Instructor 3 starts banging on barrels and tables of the range. Loud noises. My brain immediately focuses... but not on my firearm. Call it an over- active imagination, but I immediately start thinking about my husband and kid (who are not there). I start thinking about "the plan" we already have in place. The plan where I AM to take my kid and hide in our bedroom's bathroom, and escape out of the window to call the police, while my husband... the USAF Vet... covers us.
In this scenario, though, I TOOK MY HUSBAND'S PART!!
I didn't "PLAN" for that part!
Then little flashes of info started popping into my head. Stories that many of the women and men that I have spoken with over the course of my advocacy, who've been in similar situations... IN REAL LIFE, THOUGH... started headlining in my memory bank. As I'm trying to process what I needed to do in order to save my own ass, during this supposedly realistic scenario that my firearm's instructors are putting me through, I couldn't help but place myself in the positions of the many survivors I've met in my life. THEIR stories became MINE at that moment... but they included my husband and child, too, now. Needless to say, tears filled my eyes (like they are now as I write this), I started shaking, and I could barely speak.
I am not a "crier." Usually, I'm very down to earth and analyze things to get myself to effectively start problem solving, but being someone who doesn't "have a story," this drill opened my tear filled eyes to a whole new perspective.
Gun Control Groups will tell you that you cannot effectively handle a firearm in the midst of a home invasion. In this DFS class, you'll learn about how tunnel vision becomes a necessary evil when training with firearms... which PROVES that theory made up by Gun Control Groups... WRONG. I AM proof of this. During this drill... WHICH ONLY LASTED SECONDS, but felt like hours of torture because of my brain going into overdrive, the surprise of the scenario, the chaos of what my brain was processing, and the supposed threat at hand, I still performed my skills that I learned throughout the earlier part of the day. Even correcting myself intuitively, because those new skills have been effective in other people's real life experiences of the like, and my instructors helped train me into realizing it. My brain absorbed that info, subconsciously stashed it, and was waiting for the moment to activate it, using situations I WOULD understand, but told to me by others that I care so much about... all because of knowing it WOULD BE effective if I needed it. My brain recognized it!
Were my reactions perfectly orchestrated? No... I am my own worst critic for 99.9% of everything I attempt, so, my boo hoo moment doesn't discredit the fact that I DO NEED TO PRACTICE WHAT I LEARNED... BUT! Did I "effectively" save myself, and the thought of my family, from my imaginary assailant that I did not plan for? YES! Yes I did! See, the entire time I was struggling with the "What Ifs" of the moment, my brain was utilizing its "Fight or Flight" neurotransmitters and processing the new skills that I learned prior, and putting them to work. My life and that of my family's, even in the fakeness of the moment during that exercise, depended on my abilities to keep "us" breathing. In Conclusion: My brain knew there was a tool within reach to help guarantee that, and I went for it, and I used it.
Finally, we get ready to leave. Myself, and 3 other women, rode with our main instructor for the class. We hop in her SUV and pray for A/C. As we are heading back to the classroom to debrief, our Instructor asks, "Who needs a nap!?!" Four out of the five of us say, "YES! And we want foooooood!"
That new gun owner/ first time shooter I have mentioned a few times in this long, novel of an article, puffs up, "What are y'all talking about!?! I want to go shoot some more! That was so much fun!!!!"
Can't wait for DFS 2!!!!
~ Jill S. McDaniel
Creator of Mom-At-Arms
East Coast Region Lead: 1MMAGC
Virginia State Director for The DC Project