How I Evolved on Guns After a Terrorist Attack

In the wee hours of Friday morning, April 19th, I evolved on guns.

First, a confession: I’ve never owned a gun. I never wanted one in my home and, like a lot of moms, I wanted to raise non-violent children and thought keeping guns out of our home was one way to do that. When my kids were young, I didn’t want them to play with toy guns — in fact, I was rather insistent about it. Eventually, I realized that little boys will make guns out of just about anything — bananas, sticks, the dog’s paw, their fingers — nothing is safe from their imaginative minds. So I compromised and allowed squirt guns and non-gun-looking Nerf guns, but nothing that resembled a “real” gun.

My sensible (ex-military) husband indulged me in this when they were toddlers, but as they grew, he convinced me that our boys needed to learn firearms safety. He took them to firing ranges where they learned to fire weapons and even to enjoy them. Our 21 year old couldn’t wait to get his concealed-carry permit the minute he reached the legal age. I'm thankful now for my husband's insistence that our children not be raised to fear guns.

But I never wanted a gun in my home.

It probably goes back to my childhood. My dad always kept a shotgun in the bedroom closet, along with the ammo on the top shelf. He used it for his twice-a-year hunting trip with my mom’s brothers. As a bleeding-heart animal lover from a young age, it always pained me to see skinned bunnies and squirrels on the kitchen counter. So I have some "issues" — when I saw the gun in my dad’s closet my mind went to dead bunnies. And somewhere along the way (I don’t remember a specific conversation, but he had a way of doing this), my dad put the fear of God in me about touching that shotgun. The year my brother and I peeked at our Christmas gifts hidden behind the shotgun, I was terrified the thing would go off. I never, ever touched it. Not even once.

I realize it’s a completely irrational fear and in some ways I’ve always felt it was a betrayal of my strong support for the 2nd Amendment. Last year I dipped my toe in the water and experienced shooting for the first time. I enjoyed a trip to the Hillsdale College shooting range during Parents Weekend and it turns out I'm not a bad shot. Friends never understood why I didn’t own a gun and some urged me to purchase one for my protection. But still I hesitated because of my discomfort at having one in my home.