Sometimes, writing this column can be a joy and sometimes it’s tough, but I can assure you that it’s always meaningful.
The ability to send a message and maybe, hopefully make a difference in someone’s life is an extremely rewarding experience. I know that to be the case from my discussions with many of the writers here at Concealed Carry Magazine. They care, and it shows in their writing, their topics, and the passion with which they approach their subject matter.
Like all of the writers, sometimes I receive a letter from a USCCA member, an Armed American Radio listener, or a reader of this column that really makes my day. The one I’m about to share with you now broke my heart … but beyond the pain in the letter lay a message that all gun owners and especially gun-haters need to hear. Here’s how it came about.
In the laundry room he pulled out a .40 [caliber] pistol and shot her in the head.
Recently some of the Delta Media staff and I decided to put together a “giveaway promotional package” in conjunction with our sponsors on the national radio broadcast at our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/armedamericanradio). It’s very simple: we announce this week’s sponsor giveaway package, the fan “likes” the post, and the fan’s name is automatically entered for a chance to win the drawing. So far it has been a huge success; the sponsors have been great and we’ve been able to give some valuable and educational materials to the lucky winners.
One of the recent winners was a gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Tony Walker. The day after notifying Tony of his good luck, I received the following reply:
Dear Mr. Walters, I’ve wanted to get in touch with you and tell you how your book helped me deal with my mother’s murder but didn’t want to bother you. But, since I won the AAR Giveaway what better opportunity! I work on 3rd shift Sunday nights so I did not hear the show live. I download the podcast and listen usually on Tuesday afternoons. About 2 a.m. I was checking my Twitter feed and I saw the tweet from you that said my name, and I screamed. Someone at work said, “What is it?” and I said “I GOT IT! I GOT IT!” I wish you could have seen the scene!
Just so happens, I bought and read your book you co-authored about three weeks ago [Lessons from Armed America, with co-author Kathy Jackson]. I am sure that it has helped a lot of people, but I read it from a perspective that most people haven’t. And I can honestly say that it helped me deal with some things. It’s hard to put into words, but as I read it, it took me back almost 20 years ago just like it was yesterday.
I am 28 years old now. In 1994, my step dad (my real dad is unknown) murdered my mother when I was a 10-year-old boy. I was in my room playing with a neighbor when my step dad came in the front door. I recall hearing my mother say, “Don’t do it!” but I never heard the gun shot. (Your book was the first time I have heard the words “auditory exclusion.” I’m not sure how one would explain the non-shooter experiencing auditory exclusion but it happened even though neighbors heard the shot go off from their homes.)
Even though I didn’t hear the shot I “knew” something happened (God/intuition?) I immediately ran through the house and right there it seemed like time sped up and slowed down all at once. I saw my mother lying on the floor. I still remember how she was lying against the wall. I didn’t stop to look. I kept running until I exited the house and ran to a neighbor’s house.
I grew up in a home with a step dad of hate and guns used to promote fear.
But that scene will never leave me I guess. When I exited the house he reached for me with his bloody hands and I ran away. Before I went to bed that night (my baby sitters became my parents that night and still are today), I took a bath and I remember washing my mother’s blood off of my arm. Tough for anyone, much less a 10-year-old boy.
After the events transpired and we went to trial I learned everything. He put a .22 in her mouth and tried to shoot her but the gun jammed. It left a circular cut on her lip, which I had to look at a picture of and say that that wasn’t there earlier in the day. After the gun jammed she ran out the kitchen to the laundry room. In the laundry room he pulled out a .40 [caliber] pistol and shot her in the head. The bullet entered the bridge of her nose, exited out of the back of her head, went through a window, and hit the side of my neighbor’s house.
They said she died immediately. After a couple of hours they took him to jail and they told me in the driveway that my mother was dead. That was March 22, 1994, three days before my mother’s birthday.
After witnessing my mother suffer beatings, stalking, threats, and ultimately being shot, I didn’t swing to either extreme. I am not anti-gun in one ditch. I also am not in the other ditch repeating the violence I grew up with. I got my CWP in 2006. This month on March 24 my wife will take her CWP class.
I consider myself blessed that I was adopted by people who love me, grew up in a home that was stable, became a Christian, and gave my life to serve the Lord. I have a wife, a 2-year-old daughter, and 5-month-old twin boys and it is my job to protect them. I love them. I grew up in a home with a step dad of hate and guns used to promote fear. I want my family to grow up with a dad of love and see guns used to know that I will protect them because I love them.
I have wondered what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Evangelism, missionary, church planter, pastor have all crossed my mind. I used to think I knew; now I am not sure. I do know however that the Lord has protected me and a life that could be bitter and hateful is one that is trying to serve Him, I am just not sure in what capacity yet. I have had a small radio program since 2004 that airs weekly here in Anderson, SC, the Bible Broadcast. I also have my life story and radio archive on my website, www.preachertony.com
It seems lately though I have been thinking a lot, a whole lot, on what happened that day almost 20 years ago and how I can use it to help other people (and make sure it never happens to me or my family also).
Sorry to write such a long letter! I’m glad that my name was picked for the prize and I hope that my story has been a blessing to you. If nothing else you can tell people that just because someone grows up around violence doesn’t mean they will turn out that way, and you know someone to prove it. Thanks so much!
— Tony Walker
I know. I can hear what you’re thinking. Like you, I sat and tried to place myself in Tony’s shoes. How on God’s earth would I handle something so horrible? Where do people who experience such pain and tragedy gather their strength? How do they go on? It is almost impossible to comprehend surviving such tragedy unscathed and I can only hope that God would give me the strength that Tony has found.
Tony and I exchanged emails and he brought his life story to Armed American Radio on the March 18, 2012 broadcast (hour 1 if you would like to listen at www.armedamericanradio.com in the archives).
Tony now spreads the message that guns in the right hands, the hands of law-abiding people, do good things.
It seems that whenever we hear of a tragedy when a gun is used to murder, rape, or rob a good person, the media always blames the gun. I was fascinated with Tony’s response to witnessing this horrible event that changed so many lives around him and thought it incredibly important to bring his message, with his blessing to as many people as we can reach. The message being that we cannot blame an object for the death of his mother, but rather blame must be placed where it belongs, on the person who chooses to use the tool for evil deeds.
Too many times, the media, gun-grabbing groups such as the Brady Campaign, The Violence Policy Center, and too many politicians to count demonize us as gun owners. Tony’s message of responsibility is a powerful one. Evil people, not inanimate objects, commit evil deeds. He told me that he couldn’t place the blame for his mother’s murder on Mr. Glock or the piece of polymer and steel that he invented. No, Tony understands that bad people do bad things … that things by themselves can be neither good nor bad, but it is people who choose to commit evil deeds.
Tony now spreads the message that guns in the right hands, the hands of law-abiding people, do good things. This is a message that needs repeating every day to those who would choose to demonize us as gun owners or the object itself rather than focus their attentions on the criminal.
Spread the message.
(Believe it or not, Tony’s stepfather was given a total 30-year sentence and will be eligible for parole in the next two years.)
[ Mark Walters is a NRA certified instructor, co-author of the book Lessons from Armed America, and a vocal Second Amendment activist. He is the nationally syndicated host of Armed American Radio, which airs Sunday evenings at 8-11 pm EST (5-8 pm PST) from coast to coast. Mark encourages fans to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him at www.armedamericanradio.org ]