Amanda Collins was raised to take care of herself. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, she also has a carry permit so she can protect herself and her family should the need arise.
Yet when she was attacked and brutally raped in ¬2007, she was unarmed due to rules forbidding her from carrying her gun on a college campus—even though it would have been perfectly legal just across the campus boundary line. Now, Amanda speaks out for the rights of women to protect themselves regardless of where they might be.
All my life, I’ve been told there is a war being waged on women. Until recently, it was a fight I could agree with—a right to education and workplace equality. Lately, though, it seems the focus has shifted to whether we can have the ultimate control over our lives by exercising our right to self-defense—and that debate stands as a new war on women.
In October 2007, I was a student at the University of Nevada at Reno, studying to be a teacher. My parents required me to get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do before I could drive and encouraged me to get a carry permit. The college, however, wouldn’t allow me to carry my firearm on campus, so I was defenseless when a man attacked me from behind, put a pistol to my head and brutally raped me on the floor of the parking garage.
That serial rapist now sits on death row for the rape and murder of his third victim.
I’m infuriated with the lawmakers and administrators who rendered me defenseless that night, but I’m even more frustrated with the passivity of other women, especially women legislators. So many of them criticize others for trying to impose personal views about a woman’s “right to choose.” Where were they to defend my choice?
Those claiming to champion a woman’s independence and dignity are the same ones who encourage a woman being violently assaulted to urinate, vomit or claim to have a disease or be menstruating. They teach us that “no means no,” but they take away my ability to say no to someone bigger and stronger than I am.
Essentially, I was legislated into being a victim. Had I been able to carry my handgun that day, two other known rapes could have been prevented and a young life would have been saved.
That’s why I was willing to testify before the Colorado legislature when lawmakers there were considering a ban on campus carry. I was appalled by the rudeness of some lawmakers, particularly women, during my testimony.
After giving the most graphic and emotionally draining testimony since confronting my attacker in court, I was met with Sen. Evie Hudak’s patronizing response:
“Actually, statistics are not on your side, even if you had a gun,” she publicly chided me. “Chances are that if you had had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you.”
My response still remains, “Respectfully, senator, you weren’t there.”
Ultimately, Colorado’s attempt to repeal campus carry failed that year. But it was an eye-opener to the attitudes of many claiming to stand up for women.
I’m mortified that instead of standing up for meaningful defense, lawmakers with an agenda want to give me a whistle and sweep me to the side. I’m adamant that I will never again be defenseless against someone wanting to violate my dignity, but even more adamant that no one—whether the vice president or a state legislator—will violate my dignity a second time by trampling my right to defend myself no matter where I am.
I’m grateful for the NRA and so many others who worked (and are still working) to defeat bans in Colorado and elsewhere. I can’t wait for the day I can begin teaching my daughters to protect themselves. And I pray that, unlike their mother, they won’t be legislated into being victims.