Written By: K. L. A. Alford

Part I

My first year as a police officer found me fresh out of the police academy and getting date-raped by another police officer who was three times my size. I did not have my gun with me at the time, but wonder if I would have used it simply because I could not believe that an officer of the law would commit such a violent act. Even afterward, I wondered if I had just imagined what had happened, if I had somehow caused it.

But I knew I was reasonable, sane. I knew what had happened. It was not my fault. Even though I knew these things, I began to feel the numb aftershocks of anger and depression any victim of violence feels. I began to resent myself for being too afraid of a lengthy trial to report it. The one other officer I did tell in confidence literally laughed at me and told me that I was mistaken. Attempting to escape the problems, I left that police department and went to another.

I loved my job as an officer, though being a young, energetic, white female placed in charge of night shift had its disadvantages among the male veterans. Two of my own officers attempted to sabotage me in a couple of different ways which caused me to start thinking: if these guys won\'t support me as a fellow officer, why on earth would they have any loyalty to me as a woman and citizen calling for help?

That unanswered question never went away, but I didn\'t stop trying to make myself into a good police officer. It was hard to do because I could feel the depression taking me over very slowly. I fought it viciously.

I was extra-sensitive to women who had been raped. When I was called to investigate a rape, I never told the victims that it had happened to me unless they asked me. They sensed my sincerity somehow, the way women do, and I believe I was really able to get through to them, to help them. I remember one day in particular, a young girl who had been raped by an older neighbor. I had been able to stay strong for her while we talked and she answered questions. When I left the house with my report to write and the sergeant to arrest the neighbor, I sobbed the whole way back to the station with the pain for her and the memories of what had happened to me. She would have these moments when the memories would come back as vividly as if she were experiencing them for the first time.

Through the years I saw the random violence, racial crimes, drive-by shootings, senseless and natural deaths, suicides, accidents, drug addicts, drunks beyond their sanity, bar brawls, domestics, stabbings, simmering mobs about to break into frenzies. I got into fights, got stuck with hypodermic needles, went under cover and found drugs in a local high school. I became enraged by the idiocy, the sheer satanic meanness of people who perpetrated violence. These sociopaths were everywhere in different stages of their sickness.

I pulled my gun if I had to, but luckily never had to fire it in self-defense. I relied heavily on its presence even when it was in its holster.

Violence, I learned, didn\'t pick and choose. I found violence in the worst and best neighborhoods. It effected the poor and the rich, the haves and have-nots. I was more sensitive to it because it had effected me, too.

Images burned into my mind, men and women of all walks in complete shock that something terrible and violent had actually happened to them. These people should not have to depend on us cops, I remember thinking. But what else could they do? What could they do to defend themselves when we cops weren\'t there? What tool, philosophy, martial art, or defense spray cold they use to defend themselves? The answer to my question was very simple, but not only could I not see it, but the anti-gunners had gotten to me subliminally. Citizens with guns? That couldn\'t be the answer.

Part II

Mike and I met in 1992. Burned out and frustrated with humanity in general, we quit our jobs as officers and got engaged. We finished up our last year of college and, when we started working full-time jobs, got married, moved in together in our own home, and settled as much as two stubborn, opinionated, independent 27-year olds can.

It was late in 1998 that the fur started flying.

I had begun emailing several people I had met over the internet. One of those people, who has remained a very good friend of mine, convinced me to look into the concealed carry laws, to learn why the laws were so important, and in a little less than a year, I was filled in on the details of the 2nd Amendment war at hand. There was no mistaking on what side of the battle I belonged. I had been a pro-gunner all along, but had never put a name to it.

Still, though, I have always been one for research, especially when such an issue seems to be as controversial as the right to keep and bear arms. After a lot of research on the topic of benefits of the concealed carry laws sprouting up in the United States, which included reading every tedious survey and statistic, John Lott\'s most wonderful book, More Guns, Less Crime, I decided I wanted my permit to carry. I brought it up to my husband. The subject went over like a lead balloon.

\"I do not want us strapping on a weapon. We left all that behind us in police work,\" he told me.

I read everything I could to him to try to convince him that a concealed weapon permit was the best defense for a woman. He was unmoved.

\"Does it not make sense to you,\" I said, \"that lawful, unarmed people are sitting ducks?\"

(Now, since I am not here to slam men, cops, or my husband, I am going to say nothing further of our conversations.)

Not letting go of my unanswered question years before or the images burned in my memory, I got on chat lines and posted topics on the subject: Should a married woman get a concealed carry permit whether her husband approves or not? How important is a concealed weapon permit to a woman who works outside the home? Who recommends getting a concealed weapon and taking it everywhere it\'s allowed? Does anyone have any information on how concealed weapons have helped to lower crime in the states with conceal carry laws?

I got an incredible amount of feedback in my favor. My topics started fights among the ranks between men who felt that the man was the leader of the household and what he said should go, and men who thought that everyone had a right to protect themselves and their families. Mike and I talked about it to friends, co-workers, our pastor, and some counselors.

But having been given a number of different answers, the battle still raged. And the more it raged, the nastier it got. For seven long months, we fought. We brought in other personal problems. Everything that ever bothered one about the other came out in the broiling arguments day in and day out. The .38 Taurus that I had bought the year before without talking to him first was one of the key issues. After our first pistol was stolen in a housebreak three years previously, he had said he wanted no guns in the house. But having hunted since I was merely six with my father and still carrying on after I moved out; having been a police officer; having qualified with my weapon every single time with the police departments, I knew that I was educated enough to handle a pistol for personal protection for the two of us. I had shotguns for my hunting, one of which my mother and grandfather bought for me for Christmas, but most would agree that they are awfully cumbersome for home and personal defense.

After that seven months, on Saturday, March 27th, 1999, the day after my 32nd birthday, I simply announced that I was going to get my concealed carry permit, that I had signed up for the class at a local gun shop, and that I wanted to do it for my personal safety.

I\'m not saying that things between us got better right away. I will tell you that something between us broke. I don\'t know what happened, and I may never know. But I will tell you this, my marriage today is better than it has ever been. We have a new respect for each other that we never had. Though the subject of my getting the permit to carry was not the only reason we were having so many problems, it was the catalyst that allowed us to get to the heart of the individuality every human deserves, which I believe includes the responsibility and right to personal protection.

My personal safety and that of my family is one of the most important things in the world to me. I understand what it means to be violated, and though that violation was 10 years ago, I still can see every moment of that rape. I can feel every moment of it, know what I was thinking, know how dull my mind felt, know how my knees would actually buckle in fear when I saw that same cop over the next few years.

But now, I refuse to be a sheep. I refuse to let someone have that power over me again. I am no vigilante, but I know that I have a right to be here as much as anyone else in the world, and some idiot who needs a buck for dope is not gonna take me out for a dime bag without a fight.

Because the world has dishonest people, I carry.

Because the world had murderers and thieves, I carry.

Because they could be the next person I meet on the street, I carry.

And because I refuse to be a victim again,

I will state without apology my belief in God and my right to keep and bear arms.

I will take charge of my own personal safety.

I will give myself a fighting chance by carrying my concealed weapon.

I will not depend on the government, the police, or others to protect me.

I will always obey the gun laws.

I will constantly be alert to my surroundings.

I will acknowledge and accept the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon.

I will not take unnecessary risks because I am carrying.

I will promote and continue to fight for my right to keep and bear arms as an American.

And I will always, always carry.