This year I’m celebrating Mother’s Day as an actual mother for the first time. Not surprisingly, my anti-gun or non-gun owning friends have asked if my perspective on firearms and the Second Amendment has changed. They want to know if I finally believe that guns are too dangerous to have in my home now that there is a new pair of curious little hands inside.
The answer is no. In fact, the opposite is true. I treasure my right to bear arms now more than ever. But I’ll give them this: My perspective has certainly changed.
I now think seriously about legacy and heritage for the first time in my life. I think about learning to protect myself and my child from life-threatening scenarios that far too many mothers have had to face. And most of all, I think differently about safety for every member of my family.
For me, firearms have always been associated with a sense of pride, empowerment and capability. I fondly remember shooting a bolt action single shot .22-caliber rifle at camp as a kid, and I want my children to have that same opportunity. Like my parents did for my siblings and me, I’ll be teaching my son about gun safety early on. But I’ll also educate him on the fascinating role firearms have played in our American and world history. I dream about the days to come when my dad and my son will go quail hunting in the fields of west Texas, carrying on our valued family tradition. This is who we are as a family and as a people. I can’t wait to share that with him.
I train differently now. I have to think through the safest way to use my gun with one hand on a stroller or perhaps with my son in my arms. I now want to be even more prepared to protect my family. I know I’m not alone when I say that my mind often wanders to worst-case scenarios. As responsible gun owners, we train ourselves to think this way. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” as they say. But after becoming a parent, this concept takes on a whole new level of intensity. You are not just thinking about your own safety. Your heart now exists outside of yourself, and you have to protect that little one at all costs.
No one can prepare you for the emotion that hits with the realization that this helpless little being is your responsibility to protect. It’s an overwhelming, joyous and terrifying privilege. I know I can’t always protect my child. But I can prepare him.
When the time comes, we will educate him on gun safety with tools provided by programs like NRA’s Eddie Eagle or NSSF’s Project Childsafe. The most immediate priority, though, has been to store our guns safely and insist that family members and friends do the same. Whether in the car, on your body or at home, every gun must be secured from those curious and quick little hands. Thankfully, child gun injuries and deaths are dramatically down, but even one child involved in a gun-related accident is too many.
What I want my son to know as we make every effort to rear him as a responsible, proud American is that we must respect and defend our rights. We will educate him and his friends about just how precious our freedom is.
Because those rights are even more precious to me as I watch my son grow. I look forward to the memories he will make shooting and hunting with family and friends growing up, for protecting him and teaching him safety, and for the day he wants to do that for his own children. So no, I am not less inclined to own guns since my son was born—exactly the opposite. For his future and that of our country, I will continue to exercise and protect our Second Amendment rights.Natalie Foster is the host of Love At First Shot on NRA News and the creator of Girl’s Guide to Guns.