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Every time a tragedy like the recent one in Roseburg, Oregon takes place there is a knee-jerk reaction to blame the gun. Right on cue there are calls for more gun control, more background checks, and more arguments by politicians aiming to convince you that disarming law abiding citizens will stop senseless acts of violence. What you rarely hear in the media are the stories of people who have used guns to protect themselves.

Not “gun nuts” as some would like to call them, but regular, average, everyday people. People who at one time believed because they lived in a small town they were safe. People who grew up with a dad as a police officer and believed the police could always protect them.  People who never really even wanted a gun in their home. People like me.

Yes, it’s true; as a new mom I never really even wanted a gun in my home. That all changed several years ago.

I was preparing for bed in our master bathroom.  It was incredibly hot outside, and we didn’t have air conditioning so I cracked the window open slightly, just trying to get what little cool air there was into our room before retiring for the night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary: our infant son was asleep in his crib down the hall, the late night edition of the local news could be heard from the living room TV, and my husband was making his nightly rounds to check windows and doors before turning out the lights.

Something caught his eye as his passed by the main hall bathroom. Across the patio he could see a man peering into my bathroom window – watching me prepare for bed (while also fondling himself).  I heard my husband scream something unintelligible and I saw him run out the back door with a baseball bat. I had no idea what had actually happened until my husband returned moments later.

My heart sank. I was physically ill. I felt so violated. In my home I had always felt safe, but that safety and security was now gone. A million thoughts raced through my mind. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was the thought that I couldn’t protect myself or my son.  All we owned was a baseball bat. What if my husband wouldn’t have been home?

We called the police, and immediately after describing the events and the man at my window,  the officer had a good idea who had been in our yard. He fit the description of a known peeping Tom in the area.  A man who had an extensive record of criminal trespassing, methamphetamine use, robbery, and a slew of other offenses.

Later that night he was arrested just a few blocks down the street and charged with trespassing.

I wish I could report that the offender learned his lesson, served his time, and never bothered me again, but I can’t. Unfortunately, that night was just the beginning of a very long ordeal that would change me forever. He didn’t stop preying on me. In fact, he returned to our home at least four more times.

The last time was once again on a summer evening – but this time he couldn’t see me through the newly installed obscured glass windows.  I was tipped off to his presence by the motion detector lights that had been put up just days before. I saw his shadow through the glass in the back patio door.  As he approached, I grabbed another new addition to our home – a shotgun.  I chambered a round next to the door and the unmistakeable sound sent him running.

My husband was out of town that evening on National Guard duty, and I knew no one else should be in my yard.  It was just me and my son – and my shotgun.  I can’t imagine how differently things might have turned out that night if I had no way to stop him from entering.  Knowing what I know now about this man’s drug use and criminal record I have no doubt he would have entered my home if allowed.

This man wasn’t going to be easily deterred. Even after serving multiple jail sentences, his pattern continued and his crimes escalated. He repeatedly trespassed and stalked other women, but he never came into my backyard or near me again.  Later, during a court appearance, I let the judge and the offender know that I would protect my home, myself, and my children with deadly force if necessary.

I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment and a legal gun owner not because I want to be, but because I have to be. I have realized that no matter what laws are passed ‘to protect’ me, no one is responsible for my protection and the protection of my kids but me.

For those advocating for more laws, ask yourself why all the laws on the books didn’t stop my stalker from trespassing, entering my backyard, and peering into my window.  Laws didn’t stop him, but a shotgun did.

My stalker simply didn’t care about breaking the plethora of laws on the books, and neither did the gunman that shot up Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon killing nine innocent victims and also himself. It was already against the law to commit murder.  It was already against the law for him to bring a firearm into a gun-free zone. Even the gunman said himself that it couldn’t have been prevented. Laws didn’t stop him, and likely nothing will stop someone who is hellbent on destroying lives.

Continuing to focus on the gun sends the wrong message. We depend on guns to protect our President, our military, our first responders, and our celebrities.  And many, including me, have had to depend on guns to protect our own life and family.

Evil exists.  It is real.  And while my heart breaks for those in Roseburg who are suffering unimaginable loss, we need to point the blame solely at the shooter and not his weapon of choice.  Guns, like every other tool, when used improperly can cause great harm, but they can also save lives.  I’m living proof.

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