by Rachel Lucas
“Victim of Beaverton sexual assault ‘yelled for help,’ but no one did anything,” read the headlines last month. In the TV interview, the anonymous victim pleads from the shadows for other victims to come forward. Her perpetrator’s previous attacks on other women, having met with no effective opposition, have since escalated to rape.
On a Nevada college campus in 2007, a young woman was raped at gunpoint just 50 feet away from the campus police station. A law abiding concealed handgun license holder, she was obeying the law on the “gun free” campus in her state and did not have her handgun with her. Her assailant went on to rape and murder a 19 year old girl a month later. The concealed carry holder says, “I was legislated into being a victim”…”had I been carrying that night, two other rapes would have been prevented and a young life would have been saved.”
Contrast these with the young mother in Georgia who successfully defended herself and her 9-year-old twins in January from an ex-con home invader, using her .38 revolver. The young mom shot the home invader when he opened the attic crawlspace where the mom was hiding with her two children.
This is not an anomaly. Across America, guns are used successfully by would-be victims to prevent crimes upwards of 2 million times per year. And in the vast majority of cases, not a single shot is fired. Let me say that again: 75 – 95% of the time guns are used for self defense, no shots are fired. But it still works to prevent crime, including rape and murder.
As a victim of sexual assault, with my perpetrator in prison, I know how violent crime can affect you and your loved ones for the rest of your life. Even after years of therapy, I still suffered when panic attacks returned, and I felt like the only way to keep my life safe was to stay small and keep hidden. It wasn’t working.
I didn’t grow up in gun-friendly family, and so I was surprised when my daughter suggested I get a concealed handgun license and learn to shoot. Little did I know how much it would change my life.
I quickly discovered what many other people like me who did not grow up with guns, especially women, have discovered – a newfound sense of safety and empowerment that I had never felt before. That wounded part of me that had been frozen in fear all these years finally had the power to defend herself in a real way. Therapy was a wonderful and invaluable healing tool, but it never touched that place inside where I was unable to defend myself against my attacker who was much bigger and stronger than me.
I hope I never have to use my gun in self defense, but I am grateful to have it as an option. I owe it to myself and to my family.
Rachel Lucas is the Executive Director for a new nonprofit organization, Safer Oregon, that advocates for self-protection rights on behalf of crime victims.