Back in the early 1980s I was a housewife and student in Corvallis, Oregon. My husband worked swing shift and I was generally alone at home. On the night this happened it was raining; because the house was tightly sealed, I had cracked the bedroom window in order to reduce the condensation and chance of mold growing.

I was lying on our bed, reading for a Biochem course when I heard the window screen fall. I looked up in time to see a man with a ski mask, no other visible clothing, and a knife getting up on the window ledge. I started to back along the bed, along the wall to the bedroom door. The telephone was on the desk immediately beneath the window, and where he was starting to step down. I realized that when I reached the end of the bed that in order to open the door and leave the room I would step within his reach.

The man was talking to me, saying stuff that the general gist of was that if I did what he said he might let me live. I couldn\'t really hear him, I felt like I was underwater, my vision seemed really narrow and sounds seemed far away. He watched me and he seemed very happy; it was too weird. I can\'t even describe how happy he sounded while he was saying this stuff. It was terrifying. He seemed to be watching, waiting.

As I backed off the bed I stepped on something - my then husband\'s semi-automatic rifle - we had been gone rabbit hunting that day with a friend and had loaded the small rifle with .22 magnums. We hadn\'t fired a shot since the friend had brought spaniels and his goshawk and we had used the dogs to flush the bunnies, and the hawk to catch them. I grabbed the rifle and put it against the inside of my leg, the barrel pointing straight at the man\'s chest. I let off the safety and pulled the slide as I brought the rifle into a brace position against the inside of my left leg. Since he was on my right, and almost within grabbing distance I didn\'t dare try to bring it to my shoulder because there wouldn\'t be time before he could grab me.

The man then began to tell me how I didn\'t want to hurt him, how I should put the gun down. My finger went into the trigger guard, and he rolled off the window and went off into the night. I never actually fired the rifle; he fled when he realized I knew how to shoot and would if he stayed.

I was too afraid to go to the window and close it. I sat there for a while, and then finally my husband came home ane we shut the window. I called the police, told them about the intruder, no one came out.

The next day the paper told about how a woman a few blocks away had been raped and beaten and pricked with a knife by a man who matched what my attacker had looked like.

Years later I was talking with a retired police lieutenant and told him my story. The retired policeman told me I had done the absolute right thing, that this person had done this before, and was waiting for me to reach a \"decision point\" when I would be distracted and he could attack more safely for himself. He figured that the guy would have jumped while I tried to open the door. It was comforting to hear that, because over the years when I have told the story to other women, I have been criticized and asked why I didn\'t try to run away or talk the man out of it. I have been made to feel like a more violent criminal than the happy man on the window who was damn near giggling while he told me what he was going to do to me.

I am now an NRA instructor and an NRA member. I cannot imagine not having a firearm in my house. I consider the right to exist my most fundamental right, and I consider gun control to be a form of murder. Even though I successfully defended myself that night, it cost me. I no longer feel safe in my own home; and I have been made to suffer guilt by people who don\'t believe in the existence of evil, and who believe that somehow, if I were a better or more noble person that that man would have gone away if I could just have said the right things to him.