Life in an anti-gun state can wear down the best Second Amendment activists, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I spoke recently at the New Jersey Second Amendment Firearms Education (SAFE) Conference. What I found was a packed room full of hundreds of gun owners—happy warriors all—who were eager and ready to strengthen and secure their rights. In fact, many of them have been working tirelessly for years, and it was really an honor and a privilege to get to meet them.
There wasn’t one “type” of gun owner in the room. There were men and women, young and old, people of all colors and creeds, from rural, suburban and urban areas. But they were all bound by one common idea: They have a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, and that right is worth fighting for. And with that common tie, this disparate group of Americans has forged other commonalities—interest in learning about what’s happening in their statehouse and in other states around the country; efforts to work with their local lawmakers whenever possible to advance their cause; and a concerted push back against those lawmakers who seek to curtail the exercise of their rights.
Fact is, self-defense is a human right, and human beings across the country are exercising that right on a daily basis, though their stories are often ignored by the national media. Consider a couple of recent stories that appeared on local television newscasts, but never got the attention of any national networks.
In rural North Carolina, for instance, a 13-year-old girl defended herself and her younger sister with her father’s rifle after three men broke into their home. We can all imagine what could have happened had that young lady not been able to scare away the intruders, but thankfully her family had taught her how to handle that gun. Even the local media in North Carolina neglected to mention the fact that anti-gun politicians like Rep. Ed Markey want to make it a criminal offense for that 13-year-old to touch her father’s rifle. In fact, if Markey had his way, Dad would be looking at prison time and the possibility of losing custody of his kids, all because he taught them gun safety.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Ala., mother-to-be Marquita Turner used her firearm to defend herself and her unborn child when someone broke into her home for the third time in seven months. Turner told WVTM-TV that she’d owned her gun for two years, but had never visited a range before having to use the firearm in self-defense (I imagine that there are several ranges in Birmingham that would be happy to host her for a visit any time she’d like). However, her visit might have to wait until after she moves, because Turner says after this latest break-in, she’s had enough. Her gun, however, will be making the move with her.… mother-to-be Marquita Turner used her firearm to defend herself and her unborn child when someone broke into her home for the third time in seven months.
“You have to protect yourself,” she told the local TV station. “Without a doubt. Take matters into your own hands. Get some type of protection. Don't take anything for granted. You got to protect you and your child. Be strong. If it comes down to that, then that's what you have to do. Don't be scared.”
Anti-gun advocates will never mention Marquita Turner, unless it is to deride her as an “unwitting tool of the gun lobby.” The national media will never tell her story. Politicians hoping to curry favor with Michael Bloomberg will never talk about what happened to the mom in Birmingham. But one day, Turner will tell her child about the day she used a gun to protect them both, and how grateful she was that she wasn’t helpless in the face of danger.
Whether you live in Bergen County, N.J., or Birmingham, Ala., the right to keep and bear arms is your right. The right of self-defense is your right, too, whether you lay your head down at night in government housing, a Manhattan micro-apartment, a suburban split-level, a ranch on the range or any other type of domicile. And until places that are hostile to the Second Amendment, like New Jersey, actually acknowledge and protect those rights, we as gun owners will be working hard to increase our numbers—those determined to protect and promote their constitutional and human rights.