Yep, that was my motto way back when, BG, Before Guns came into my life. It all came about because of a college girl in my town. She worked at a clothing store in the mall. One night, I went into her store with a little extra cash to buy the coolest new outfit in the latest style – layering. Remember back when it first became cool to wear two shirts at the same time? With the under one showing via rolled up sleeves and an extra unbuttoned button at the throat? It was all too cool, and I wanted two shirts to wear together. The clerk was marvelous, spending all the time in the world with me to make sure I had just the right two shirts. The underneath one was a hot pink T-shirt material, and the on top one was a purplish, bluish plaid. I looked so cool when I walked out of the mall that night, got in my car, and went home. Safely.
A few weeks later, that beautiful, wonderful, precious college girl who had helped me was dead. Her picture and story was front page news in our local newspaper. She’d been kidnapped leaving work one night while walking across the mall parking lot to her car. They found her body someplace else.
You know the awful details. We all do, and I have read similar stories too many times since, local stories about a girl who lived two blocks from good friends of mine, another girl who went to junior high school with my children, a woman whose home in our town was burglarized twice before she was killed by the thief on his third foray into her home.
At the time of the college girl’s death, I swore to myself that I would die in the parking lot before I let anybody take me anywhere. That I would fight to the death, either my attacker’s or mine, before I would let myself be terrorized, raped, burned, beaten, mutilated or anything else. The list of atrocities is endless. Death I could handle, but not the rest of it, not without a killing rage welling up inside myself that screamed “FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE OR DIE TRYING.”
Then along came the Steele Street boys. They had guns, lots of guns, and they knew how to use them. As the author of these operators, I figured I should get to know guns. I’d never even held a handgun, so I figured that would be a good place to start. I was right, and it was while shooting a Springfield 1911 that I had a life-altering epiphany: “There is nothing like a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol to level the playing field. Any playing field.” To hell with dying in the parking lot.
Now, after years of shooting and training (TRAINING IS IMPORTANT!!!), I am still amazed that owning a gun and knowing how to use it for my own self-defense never crossed my mind before I started writing the Steele Street novels. The fact astounds me. Unless you really are Skeeter Bang or Red Dog, a woman is at a severe disadvantage in a physical struggle with an attacker. A .45 or a .38 or a 9mm changes the odds, drastically and in your favor, if you are willing to learn and train and step up. Let me repeat that last part: STEP UP. That’s right, step up and take responsibility for your personal safety.
A woman I know lives alone up in the mountains and thought maybe it would be a good idea if she got a gun, but her friends (friends????) convinced her that if someone broke into her home, they would only take her gun and use it against her. I could only stare, slack-jawed, at the mountain woman while she was telling me this story. When she finished, I said, “Well, they won’t take your gun and use it against you if you shoot the bastards first.” Duh. This is called Tactical Thinking, and I highly recommend it, especially when it comes to personal safety.
As for the woman who was killed by the thief, I still wonder why, in the very least, she didn’t get a big dog. The burglar only stole her underwear, which is so creepy, and ended up being deadly for her. She, of course, reported the incidents to the police, but even if you’re married to a policeman, he’s not going to be with you 24 hours a day. We all need to be responsible for our own safety – that’s the prime directive.
Until next time, GunDiva and I will be out there, practicing, practicing, practicing, putting those rounds downrange, armed and in charge.