Just a mom and her gun – and her thoughts on gun control

GunGoddess Facebook fan Brandi Shurtz-Huffmaster says it so well, after the shooting that took place in the movie theater in Aurora, CO on July 20:

I have been teased, in love (mostly) by both family and friends for making the decision to carry a concealed weapon everywhere I go. When I have carried both into church and movie theaters I have most definitely gotten the “eye roll” from many of my friends and family. You see, I do not advertise that I carry a concealed weapon, but most people I know saw me go through the process of gun purchasing as well as time in the range shooting and then the classes I took to receive my concealed carry permit in the state of California. That said, I frequently get asked by my friends and family, “So, are you packing heat now?” If you ask, I will tell – knowing full well I am going to get the typical response of, “Oh, Brandi!” OR “Do you really carry your gun everywhere?” AND my favorite, “You shouldn’t live in fear.” The reality is, I do not live in fear. Especially now.

Almost two years ago when I had a man follow me out into a Target parking lot with a taser gun going off in his hand….yes, that made me fearful. Especially, since I did not have anything on my person, except my own common sense to protect myself. The only thing that scared him off was me charging toward him, pulling my hand to my hip in a pretend “draw position” and yelling, “I will kill you!” He then made a quick left into a sea of cars and I retreated to my vehicle. That was the first time owning a gun became a serious consideration for me. Not even a week later my home alarm went off in the middle of the night. Someone had lodged open my outside garage door. Not having any guns or weapons in our home, my husband did what so many husbands do when someone attempts a break-in in the middle of the night. He opened our back door and walked out to the garage completely unprotected and vulnerable. As soon as he stepped outside I was horrified. I became sweaty and clammy and my stomach started to turn. This, was what living in fear felt like for me. That moment in which you feel like you have no control over what could happen to you and to your family. It turned out that whoever it was ran away…but what if he had not? What if he had held a gun to my husband’s head and marched him straight back into our home? What if the intruder had a weapon and decided to use it on my unarmed husband, and then do God knows what to me and my five defenseless children? It was that night that made me realize that this was not a chance I was willing to take. The next day I was in a gun store for the first time in my life and purchasing two weapons….a pistol grip shot gun and a Kimber .45 ACP.

I had never even touched a gun until that day. I realized that I had a lot to learn, safes to purchase, and classes to take. I decided to take this serious. If I was going to own a gun, I sure as heck wanted to have the common sense in how to use it safely and accurately. I was as scared as they come to pull the trigger on that .45 the first time at the range. Would I drop it? Would the sound horrify me? Would I pull that trigger once and hate it so bad that I would never want to pull it again? The answer was a solid, no, no and no. In fact, with the eye and ear protection on, I was surprised how smooth the first shot was, how protected my eyes felt from the flying casings and how much the ear protection dulled the impact of the noise. I found I loved the thrill of target shooting. It became great stress relief as well as something both my husband and I liked to do together. I am not competitive person by nature but am very competitive with myself. This was the perfect sport for me. I love going to the range, I love challenging myself to become a better shot, I love cleaning my gun, and yes, I love the smell of gunpowder and lead. I am officially a gun junkie.

In light of what has happened in Aurora, we are again facing the sneers and jeers of those who think that taking away the right to own guns is going to stop the nut-jobs from carrying out their senseless acts. My thought this weekend while watching this horrific tragedy play out was, “What if there had been someone in that theater carrying a legally concealed weapon, who could have popped off a magazine of shots at the armed invader?” Yes, I know that he was wearing a bullet proof vest and a gas mask. However, even in a bullet proof vest, eight rounds to the chest with a .45 ACP is going to stop you in your tracks, most likely knock you off your feet and at the least take your breath away – not to mention be an unexpected stunner. Would this have made a difference? Perhaps it could have possibly allowed more people escape while the gunman composed himself and regained his bearings. Would perhaps it may have given an unsung hero the chance to take advantage of the situation and tackle the gunman while he was down and reassessing his own health or a new plan of attack?

In the aftermath of this tragedy these are questions we will never have the answers to. When hearing about this incident I immediately thought about every time I have conceal carried my gun into my local movie theater. There have been times I have not wanted to carry into the theater because holstering a weapon during a two and a half hour movie is not necessarily the most “comfortable” movie experience. But I have to think, did the people attending that movie in Aurora ever think in their wildest dreams that a gas-masked, bullet proof vested gunman would storm the exact theater they were sitting in and start taking out humans like it was open season? I extremely doubt it. This is a day and time in which we should not live in fear, but we should be wise enough to realize that there are desperate people in this world, who at random times and places, act out in such a way that can be devastating and life-altering to those who happen to be innocently standing, or in the case of the Aurora theatre massacre, sitting in their path of destruction. For every time I have had the thought cross my mind that maybe I am being “over the top” or “obsessed” by carrying my gun with me everywhere I go, the incident in Aurora made me give pause and realize that we never know what a day holds for us. I will never again second guess my instinct to take advantage of my right to bear arms and legally and lawfully conceal carry my weapon into any movie theater, church, grocery store, shopping mall….well, you get the picture – I will carry everywhere that I legally can.

So, all this nonsense about gun laws. What makes us as a society so stupid to think that stricter gun laws are going to stop a criminal or a total whacko from carrying out their evil agendas. People who act out in these ways are going to get their weapons one way or another. If they have no criminal past, yes, they may get them legally. If they have a criminal past they won’t be stopped by the DROS process. They will just get their weapons illegally. Guns, and weapons of any sort for that matter, will always be easily obtained illegally by anyone who wants one bad enough. Criminals will not be stopped by tougher gun laws. If the gunman in Aurora had not been able to obtain a gun legally, do you really think he would have just given up on his notion to wreak havoc in the theater that night? Not a chance. Taking away the right to “legally” bear arms or making the laws so strict that it is impossible to obtain a “legal” gun, only hurts those of us who are responsible citizens and are already “law abiders”. If we fall prey to this notion and way of thinking, only the criminals and whackos will be bearing arms while the rest of us…just sitting ducks.

I have been called “obsessed” and “over-the-top” when it comes to how much and how often I conceal carry my gun. After this weekends chain of events, I am okay with that. In fact, very early this morning at 4:30am when my house alarm began blaring throughout my home, for the first time I had the sense of no fear. Instead of that feeling of panic and being defenseless, both my husband and I calmly popped open our bedside safes and pulled our Kimber .45s out. I am glad there was no intruder…only for his sake. So, the next time someone rolls their eyes and tells me, “You shouldn’t live in fear”, I’ll just smile. Fear….I have never felt so fearless in my life – thanks to my Second Amendment right. God forbid it is ever taken away from us as Americans.

Brandi Shurtz-Huffmaster
written 7/23/12

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