My views on gun rights were formed early in life – before I knew about the Second Amendment, before I knew about the U.S. Constitution and before I ever fired, or even touched a gun.
It was when a Soviet border guard stuck a rifle in my face and threatened to shoot me when I was eight years old.
The border guard was standing in front of a doorway through which they took my dad. My parents and I spent the day in this third-world pit on the border of Poland and Ukraine, waiting to leave the Soviet Union. And since we were Jews, who wanted more than anything to leave the “motherland,” the border officials, the guards and the so-called “customs officials” made it their official duty to make our lives as miserable as possible while we were there.
I’ll never forget how helpless I felt – how demeaned and beaten my parents looked. And I’ll never forget that rifle in my face.
So, they rifled through our luggage, confiscating anything they deemed necessary – loosely translated it means they stole our stuff. They also did body searches – strip and orifice searches as well. Not because they really thought we were hiding something, but because they wanted to further humiliate the Jews. It made them feel powerful and strong. It made them feel more than what they actually were.
Meanwhile, we – my parents and I – were the disarmed, at their mercy, subject to their whims because they were armed, and we were not. I couldn’t put this concept into words at that time. I was just a kid. But I knew that they had power over me, because they could shoot me on a whim if I didn’t do what they wanted.
So when they took my father into another room under armed guard, I wanted nothing more in the world than to follow him. I wanted and needed my daddy. And that overwhelming feeling of need forced me to try and follow him into a dark hallway guarded by a uniformed soldier with a rifle. In the darkened hallway, I saw my father turn and look at me as the guard pointed the rifle in my face.
We were eventually allowed to rejoin my father, and we left the USSR for America. But I’ll never forget that day. I’ll never forget how helpless I felt – how demeaned and beaten my parents looked. And I’ll never forget that rifle in my face. At that point, someone had complete power over me and over those I loved. At that moment, we were helpless, disarmed and undefended.
When I began to study civics in high school, I had to participate in a debate about armed self-defense. I researched all I could the various methods of self- defense and why a firearm was the most effective tool to defend your life on the market. I recalled my experience at the USSR border, and I drew upon it to argue in favor of armed self-defense. I won the debate.
I was drawn deeper into Constitutional issues and gun rights when I was finishing my BA in International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Having studied history, politics, civics and government, I felt compelled to join the military. I spent a total of eight years in the United States Army, where I earned “Expert” badges with the M16-A2. And because my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was broadcast journalism, I also began to write and produce audio, video and public affairs materials for the Army. I fell in love with writing in the Army, and I continue to write today in support of gun rights and the Second Amendment.
I live in Stephens City, Virginia with my husband and three children. My son Daniel was born on September 11th, 1997 while my husband and I were both stationed in Germany. Three years later we adopted two little girls from Israel. Anna is fourteen years old and Sarah is eight. My husband and I have taught all three children the importance of being able to defend yourself. They know firearm safety, and they respect guns. Anna, who has recently begun to study civics, argued vociferously for gun rights in her class. She loves to shoot, and we have recently bought her a Glock 9 millimeter handgun for her practice sessions.
CCM: How long have you carried a concealed weapon?
Nicki: I started carrying concealed about three years ago, when I began working 65 miles from home and commuting each day.
CCM: What weapon/s do you carry?
Nicki: I started out carrying a Mauser HSc (.380), but after having spoken with our local sheriff on the subject of self-defense, I began carrying a Glock G23 (.40 caliber). The Sheriff informed me that I was carrying less firepower than I needed to stop a potential assailant. He recommended carrying nothing less than a 9 millimeter for self-defense. I took his advice to heart, and now we’re a Glock family. Both my husband and my teenage daughter have Glocks.
CCM: What type of ammunition do you carry?
Nicki: Federal Hydroshock .40 caliber
CCM: How often do you shoot/practice?
Nicki: I try to get out to the range at least once a month, but with my schedule it’s difficult. Sometimes I shoot twice or three times per month, other times, I may not make it out there for two months or longer. With three kids and a full time job, it’s difficult to set a range schedule. However, I do train daily by drawing my weapon and aiming at a specific target, drawing with both hands and from both sides (I’m ambidextrous), so that it becomes second nature to me should I ever need it.
CCM: Which concealment holsters do you use? Which is your favorite?
Nicki: I have a pouch inside my purse specifically for my firearm for the occasions when I wear form fitting business clothes or dresses. This reduces unsightly bulges. But most of the time, I carry Uncle Mike’s Kydex Paddle Concealment holster for my Glock.
CCM: Why did you decide to carry?
Nicki: I have always supported Second Amendment rights, but I never gave much thought to my own safety. When I was in the military, I spent most of my tour in Germany, where I was not authorized to carry concealed weapons. When I returned stateside, I worked two minutes away from home, and I never considered carrying a concealed firearm. But after I quit my radio job, and got a writing job 65 miles away from home in Vienna, Virginia – a few miles away from Washington, DC, I realized how vulnerable I was.
My daily trip to work takes me through rural areas and mountainous terrain with little or no cell signal. If my car broke down on the way, not only would I have no way of calling for help, but I would be at the mercy of any thug or psychopath who decided to take advantage of an unarmed female stranded in the middle of nowhere. I swallowed my pride (I never considered asking the government for permission to exercise my Second Amendment rights advisable) and grudgingly applied for a concealed carry permit, which was promptly granted a couple of weeks later.
CCM: Have you ever had to use your firearm in a defensive situation?
Nicki: I’m thankful that I have never had to shoot another human being. The closest I ever came to using my firearm in a defensive situation was in a situation very similar to the possible scenario that prompted me to begin carrying a concealed weapon in the first place. I was driving through the mountains on a cold November day, and I had a tire blow out. I know how to change my tires, so I pulled over to the side of the road and began dragging my spare out of my trunk.
An old pick-up truck pulled up behind me and a man got out and offered to change my tire for me. I had no idea who he was, and I wasn’t going to take any chances. So, while he was getting his jack out of his truck, I quickly ducked inside my car, pulled my gun out of my purse and put it inside my coat pocket, just in case. The man was a gentleman. He changed my tire and refused my offer to pay him. But I have read too many reports of women getting victimized on the side of the road, and I’m glad I had my firearm with me just in case. I’m also glad that I didn’t have to use it, but I train for that situation every day, so that I’m never caught by surprise.
CCM: Nicki, what do you do for a living?
Nicki: I am a writer. I write fund-raising material for conservative educational and political organizations, I do a bi-weekly column on Second Amendment rights and freedom for Armed Females of America, and I am News links Director and Featured Writer for KeepAndBearArms.com. I am also a former contributing editor for the NRA’s Woman’s Outlook magazine.
CCM: Do you have any advice for our readers?
Nicki: My advice is twofold. First, I have found that carrying and being proficient with my firearm has given me a sense of pride and personal responsibility. All too often, I have seen those who don’t know much about firearms and those who are afraid of them give me “the look” when they find out I carry concealed. It’s a look that says, “I’m not comfortable with having this armed person work in the same office/shop in the same store/live in the same area as I do.” I never let that bother me, and I proudly told my coworkers and neighbors that I do carry a weapon with me everywhere I go. I could tell some of them were uncomfortable with that information.
However, all this changed during the “sniper” attacks in the DC area in 2002. Mohammed and Malvo had the people terrified – too scared to go outdoors, too frightened to fill up their car at a gas station. All of a sudden, during those days, I had co-workers asking me to go to the gas station with them and neighbors who no longer regarded me with uncomfortable glances. Knowing I had a gun made them feel more secure, and many of them realized what a valuable tool a firearm can be. So my first piece of advice would be: take pride in the fact that you have taken a step toward being personally responsible for your safety.
My second piece of advice is train as much as possible. Practice target shooting and retention drills. Get comfortable with drawing your weapon in a variety of situations. Criminals learn how to disarm their opponents in prison. Many of them are physically strong. Learn to draw quickly, so that you never allow them near enough to disarm you. And practice retaining your weapon, so that there is less of a chance of an assailant using it against you.