I wanted to be a good mom. So I got a gun.
- When neo-Nazi websites published my home address, I filled out the paperwork for a permit
Mar 9, 2018-A few months after my father left our family home for good, my mother heard me screaming in the middle of the night. It was the kind of scream that made her grab her rifle in one hand and some ammo in another.
It was a spring night and I was sleeping with my window open, which was right above my bed; I loved breathing in the fresh air. That night, in that open window, I heard the banging of a ladder, and by the time my mother made it into the room and began loading her gun, a man was about to climb in.She said something along the lines of: “Bethany, come over here. I don’t want you to get his brain matter on your face.” I backed up behind her and my mother raised her gun. The would-be intruder slowly backed down the ladder. As he climbed down, my mother approached. The barrel of her rifle was inches away from his face and she told him, “Next time you come here, I won’t hesitate.” She had her gun pointed at him through the window on his way down, and as he went down the ladder she grabbed the top and shook it, just to put the fear of God into him one last time before he fled.
My mother admired Ralph Nader and voted for the Green Party
candidate during every presidential election I walked into a booth with her. There was not an issue on which she was not the most progressive person in the room. And yet, she owned guns.
They weren’t “weapons of war” to us, nor were my parents “gun nuts”; they just had a camper trailer in upstate New York, where bears were common campfire intruders. And soon, she had reason to keep them around the house for self-defense as well.Right around when my dad left, when I was 3 years old, our neighborhood on Long Island experienced a crime wave of burglaries, which led my mother to keep guns in various parts of the house in case she needed one at a moment’s notice. That decision turned a story with a potentially tragic ending into one about a heroic single mother and her young daughter. Our incident won’t show up in the statistics about gun use in self-defense scenarios. I doubt my mother ever reported it to the police.
While it may seem counterintuitive to those who didn’t grow up around guns, in our house we saw them as tools of protection and empowerment for two women living alone.
After my first child, a daughter, was born I must have printed the paperwork required to obtain a gun permit in New Jersey a dozen times. Despite what many may think, the process is not simple nor is it quick, which led to my procrastinating for several years.
Over the Republican primary season, I was an outspoken conservative critic of then-candidate Donald Trump, and a torrent of hate rolled my way. I would later learn just how much: The Anti-Defamation League named me one of the top 10 Jewish journalists to be attacked by the so-called alt-right during the election season. After years of receiving death threats for my conservative views, months of being attacked by the alt-right and then having our address published online by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, I pushed myself to finally go through the process of asking friends for letters attesting to my character, obtaining fingerprints and submitting to background checks.
I was given a reason to feel that I needed to defend myself and my family. And I acted on it.
In the wake of every mass shooting, there are renewed calls for gun control, and a demonization of the National Rifle Association (of which I was but am no longer a member). We are told that it’s not our guns—the guns of legal and responsible gun owners—that would be taken away, but those of the bad guys. But when those advocating bans don’t even understand the mechanics and basic terminology of guns, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
All Americans should expect law enforcement agencies, which missed opportunities to stop not just the Parkland shooter, but also the shooters in the Charleston and Sutherland Springs churches and the Orlando nightclub, to be able to protect us. You can forgive conservatives if we don’t believe that giving federal law enforcement officials more authority is the solution to shootings they bear some responsibility for.
That’s, in part, why many gun owners insist the answer isn’t a ban, but rather evaluating who can obtain these weapons. President Trump is now reportedly considering the idea of gun restraining orders, which have the ability to quickly take firearms away from those considered dangerous, like the shooter in Parkland. A variation of this law is already on the books in California. In 2016, 86 of these restraining orders were issued, and 10 were extended past the initial 21-day period they were granted for. Our side insists that people are the problem, not guns, and to make good on that we need to come to the table with ideas on how to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who have no business holding them.
This idea, popularized in a piece by National Review’s David French after the Parkland shooting, isn’t a panacea. But it is a middle ground for gun-rights supporters and gun-control activists to meet. Many supporters of the Second Amendment know something is broken, just as its opponents do, and ideas like French’s can bring many more to the negotiating table than calling for outright bans on guns or the notion that there are no legislative solutions to the gun violence issue.
But such a compromise will require gun control activists to confront the lie of one of their favorite talking points: that gun rights supporters care more about guns than children. For many, support for gun rights is motivated precisely by our devotion to protecting our kids.
Mandel is an editor at Ricochet and a columnist at The Forward
—©2018 The New York Times
—©2018 The New York Times
Published: 09-03-2018 08:21