2A activist offers live-saving advice to stalking victims

2A activist offers live-saving advice to stalking victims

I’ve been blessed to call Nikki Goeser a friend for many years, and her countless efforts in support of the right to keep and bear arms and the innate right of self-defense have had a big impact, both in her role as executive director of the Crime Prevention Research Center and as the survivor of a horrific act of violence in which a violent stalker carried a gun into a “gun-free zone” and murdered Goeser’s beloved husband Ben in front of her. Goeser possessed a concealed carry license, but because the bar where she and her husband were running their mobile karaoke business was a “sensitive place” under Tennessee law at the time, she left her gun in her vehicle that night as she was supposed to; completely unaware that, as she details in a new op-ed at Fox News offering advice for others on how to protect themselves from stalkers, one of the regulars at their events had a deranged and deadly obsession with her.

Thirteen years ago, my husband Ben was murdered in front of me by a man who was stalking me. My husband and I owned a mobile Karaoke business in Nashville, Tennessee, and my stalker was a karaoke customer who became somewhat of a regular singer on karaoke nights. He sent me inappropriate messages over social media until I deleted/blocked him, and my husband ended up asking him to leave me alone. There were no threats, but the messages he sent were what most women would describe as creepy and flirtatious.

So how does something creepy and flirtatious escalate to something as severe as murder? Obsession, jealousy and mental illness. That’s how.

I hardly knew my stalker at all. He was merely an acquaintance, and I only knew his first name. I did not realize I was being stalked until the very night he murdered my husband. It wasn’t until the murder trial that I learned he was delusional and an erotomaniac.

My stalker continued to stalk me, even from prison. He sent twisted love letters to me for years from behind bars that were meant to torment and terrify me. I then worked with legislators in my state of Tennessee to establish a new lifetime order of protection law for victims of the most serious violent crimes.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, and Nikki has penned a very powerful column advocating for stalking victims to protect themselves, even while they work within the system to get justice.

Stalking resource experts advise victims to change their lives dramatically for safety. Seventy-eight percent of stalking victims take some protective action. For some victims, that action may be calling the police, changing their name, a job change, moving, or obtaining an order of protection, etc.

But one piece of advice is consistently ignored or minimized by these so-called “experts.” The basic human right of self-defense. It is my own opinion that getting professional firearms training, situational awareness training and carrying a gun for self-defense is the best security measure a person can make, especially for women. Research has suggested that carrying a gun benefits women 3 to 4 times more than it does for men.

A gun is a great equalizer, putting a female on equal footing against a male attacker. Your job is not to go and apprehend the person who is a threat. Your job is to keep that threat away from you and protect yourself if necessary.

That said, it is essential to understand the laws in your state regarding justifiable use of force and when it is actually legal to use a gun in self-defense. Carrying a gun does not guarantee your safety. But it does give you a fighting chance when you may need it. Because when seconds count, the police are likely minutes away.

A gun is not a suit of armor any more than an order of protection is, but as Goeser says, having one may at least give someone a fighting chance when and if they need it. In anti-gun states from California to New York, however, lawmakers are intent on making it as difficult as possible to obtain a carry license while making it a crime to carry a firearm almost everywhere; laws that aren’t likely to dissuade a homicidal stalker or abusive ex but may very well prevent a potential victim from being able to defend themselves from an assault.

Unconstitutional infringements on a fundamental right harm all of us, but the damage is especially grievous in nature to those whose need for self-defense is most acute. Imagine reaching the point that you’re concerned enough for your personal safety to take the step of buying a gun, only to be told that first you have to take an eight-hour class, provide documentation from your local police in order to obtain a “permit-to-purchase” (which will take a few weeks to process), and only then will you be allowed to go through yet another background check (this time at a gun shop) and purchase a firearm… though there may also be a 10-day waiting period between your approval and when you can actually take possession.

It’s insane, and it leads to terrible tragedies like the murder of Carol Bowne, a New Jersey woman who was killed by her ex while she was waiting for her New Jersey pistol purchase permit to be issued. Meanwhile, as Nikki points out, when women do use firearms to protect themselves and their families from stalkers or abusers, the news rarely captures the attention or interest of national outlets.

I hate that the love of Nikki’s life was stolen from her by a depraved and twisted individual who didn’t give a damn about the state of Tennessee’s “gun-free zones”, and I will always admire her courage and conviction in speaking out; not only for herself but for everyone at risk from another’s deadly obsession with them. I greatly appreciate her activism and friendship, and I encourage you to check out the entire conversation with Nikki Goeser below.