I received a message not long ago from a 73-year-old woman named Lynette who made a fantastic point, one that I had not thoroughly considered. Through sharing her story, she presented the importance of women being able to protect themselves, not only so they can remain physically safe, but also so they can remain legally safe and potentially protect the men in their lives. How? An armed and trained woman does not have to depend on someone else. She does not have to wait for help or wait while a husband, father or loved one takes responsibility for protection and defense. Additionally, a woman may not have to face the same harsh review and criticism in court that a male counterpart might encounter under the same or similar circumstances.
Here’s what Lynette had to say:
“In the 1970s, I was living in San Diego, California, with my then-husband David when we heard glass break in the spare bedroom of our home. David jumped up and grabbed my .22 rifle to protect me. I froze because I was nude and had no idea what to do. My husband shot the burglar after the man swung a screwdriver at him. The burglar then ran off down the alley and died.
“After the incident, we were in fear that David would go to jail, and it was very close. It didn’t seem to matter that the man he shot was a burglar who had broken into several homes. The defense that eventually saved my husband was that he was in fear for our lives when that burglar violently swung at him.”
Undoubtedly, the experience was very frightening for Lynette. After the crime, she got her concealed carry permit as soon as she could. But Lynette mentally struggled with her actions — and lack thereof — during the attack.
“I was appalled that I’d frozen,” she said. “But I knew why it had happened. I was in a situation I’d never thought I would be in. Since that time, I’ve made a point of imagining myself in the same and other threatening situations and thinking through what I would do. I refused to be afraid. I knew I had to prepare to deal with fear, especially if my son was threatened.”
Time passed, and Lynette eventually found herself in another state with a different husband and a grown son. Unfortunately, she’d let her concealed carry permit lapse. “And I found myself in another unsafe situation,” she explained. “I was in a parking lot preparing to cross the street to go into a church for exercise class when a ruckus occurred. I was completely unprepared — again. A 77-year-old woman was getting out of her Prius when a young man jerked opened her door and demanded her car keys. She said in amazement, ‘Huh?’ Again, he demanded, ‘Give me your keys!’ In a daze, she reached for her purse, and when she reached inside, the man pulled out a pistol and pointed it at her. Notice that he did not show the gun until she reached into her purse. Bad people fear that you will be carrying in your purse.
“Happily, this woman was not hurt. One of the custodians at the church saw what was happening and called the police. They later caught the criminal just a few blocks away. He claimed he was ‘only trying to get home to mama,’ who lived a couple of states away.
“Needless to say, I got my permit to carry as quickly as I could. It was an easy decision for me because I’d been in the military, the Navy Reserves. And I was raised to see myself as a protector, not someone who would have to be rescued. Think of the books and movies you’ve seen and how you see yourself. I was raised on watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and western heroes who righted wrongs.
“But there was another important reason for me to get my carry permit. My husband is a fine man, generous to a fault. And I figured two things. While he would try to defend me, that might not be the best idea. I’m a tough old woman even though I look like a 5-foot-3, white-haired little old lady who could be easily knocked over. I’ve got to stop an attacker because I am fragile. I’ve broken bones, and getting knocked down will break more. I know police will not arrive before I am hurt. And I’ll be dang-blasted if I will live in fear.
“And while that is important, there is a second aspect to consider. If my husband has to shoot a burglar or someone who sees me as a ‘little old lady,’ the police will look more carefully at him. They may think he could have done something else. They would probably see me as justifiably defending myself when threatened. And the same goes for my son, and even more so. Since he is big and musclebound, they will look more critically at him if he ever uses a firearm.”
Lynette definitely has a point, and I hope it encourages everyone to be prepared — physically, mentally, legally and financially — if we ever have to use a firearm in self-defense. As Lynette asks, “Ladies, are you going to defend your men or just let them go through the courts because it is easier to do nothing?”