This is a fashion post with a very personal and serious message. Please don't just scroll down to the pictures in order to leave a quick comment. Instead, please read with an open mind and remember that as long as it's respectful I welcome differences of opinion and encourage debate.
Throughout the course of my life I have found myself on both sides of the gun debate. Growing up as I did in New York City and Fort Lauderdale I was led to believe that only criminals had guns and, aside from the police, law-abiding citizens should be terrified of even touching a firearm, let alone owning one. At the age of 14 my position against handguns was heavily influenced by my father's death by his own hand using a pistol. Years later another person very dear to me ended his life in the same manner. There were senseless shootings on the news and murder statistics that got higher with each passing year. Guns were just horrible things.
But that's just not true. Just as the majority of Americans have a choice in deciding whether we want to own a gun or not, it's entirely up to us as to the manner in which we use it. My position on this issue didn't change overnight. Indeed, it is the end result of events and circumstances in my life that have led me to understand that I have the right to protect myself.
Because I am a woman with Cerebral Palsy I will candidly tell you that verbal abuse and/or "bullying", while prevalent in my adolescent years, was not the worst of my problems (bullying is it's own topic and completely irrelevant in this conversation). It's easy to overpower someone who can't run away or fight back. It was easy to force 15-year-old me into non-consentual sex because your girlfriend - my best friend - had her period. And he brought his buddy, too, because I had no way of defending myself.
This scenario, with variations in venue and participants, has sadly taken place several times in my life. Don't get me wrong; I've made plenty of bad decisions and done a myriad of stupid things. But I own my choices be they right or wrong. It's only when the ability to choose is taken from me that I take exception.
Being disabled paints a target on your back for anyone looking to take advantage of the disadvantaged. I have been robbed at gunpoint, had my front door kicked in in the middle of the night, burglarized multiple times, and shot at through a sliding glass door. The shooting, along with three of the burglaries, happened while I lived exactly two blocks away from the police department. It took them 47 minutes to respond to my call about the gunfire. The officer was very irritated and acted like I had wasted his time. He already knew who tried to shoot me. It was an 14-year-old that lived nearby and was under house arrest - for burglary. He told me if I didn't like it I should move.
So I did. But these experiences helped me to understand that my safety is my responsibility and it's important for me to be able to stop anyone that is truly threatening me, my husband, or my dogs, and to be able to deter anyone trying to steal the things we've worked so hard for. I am fortunate that Clint was raised to be proficient with firearms and he has taught me how to safely use a gun to defend myself.
It was not easy for me to smile for these photos. This is serious business to me. I am fairly proud of my results, though. I am no longer at the mercy of those that bear me ill intent and would prey upon me because I am perceived as weak.