Sexual assault survivor speaks out for gun rights

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

When it comes to all the heinous things people can do to one another, perhaps one of the worst is sexual assault. Not only is it horrible in the moment, but it leaves scars for years afterward that many people have a hard time getting by.

Those who oppose gun rights often seem to believe that guns facilitate such assaults. They figure rapists will use a gun to gain the compliance of their victims.

And, to be fair, I’m sure that happens. I’m also sure that those who would do so aren’t going to be picky about where they get a gun, though, so bypassing laws meant to keep them disarmed wouldn’t be a big thing to them.

But as one victim of sexual violence notes, gun rights help victims.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and later rape during my college years, my life’s journey is marked by determination to be more than what happened to me, constant dedication to the work of healing, being willing to push through the scars that abuse left, and committing myself to whatever it takes to never be unable to protect myself in life-threatening situations.

As a young woman, trying to put back together the shattered pieces of my life, I promised myself I would not allow my trauma to define me nor would I ever be a victim again. That led me on a journey to learn everything I could about self-protection.

Like many Americans, I did not grow up in homes where firearms were present.  As a result, I relate to those individuals, frequently women, who are intimidated by firearms. I was first exposed to handguns for personal protection when I was gifted a handgun and concealed carry class for my 30th birthday. I was empowered by this experience and soon began spending more and more time at the range and learning to be proficient in self-defense.

The author, Kristin Benton, goes on to note how she became a firearm instructor and eventually created a business around firearms.

It’s a positive end to what had to be a horrifying experience. Not everyone gets those happy endings, though. The scars of their experiences–and not just for sexual assault survivors–can last a lifetime.

And that’s why Benton is speaking out against red flag laws.

According to the federal government, approximately 8% of women and 6% of men will experience PTSD at some point in their lifetimes. ERPOs have the potential to leave millions of Americans, people like myself, veterans, mothers dealing with postpartum depression, and women escaping an abusive relationship defenseless.

Such orders infringe upon the rights of citizens who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime.

Honestly, that’s an excellent point.

A lot of people have PTSD from a number of causes. Some are depressed for a number of reasons. Many, if not most of them don’t actually represent a threat to themselves or others.

But seeing someone suffering is concerning. Well-meaning friends and family may seek out a red flag order, infringing on the individual’s gun rights, all because they’re worried over nothing.

Benton, a survivor of two different kinds of sexual assault, has decided not to be a victim again if she can help it. I respect the decision and even applaud it. It’s not easy to come to terms with awful things and use them to fuel your desire to prevent it from happening again. It sounds simple, but it’s not.

Her gun rights make it so she can decide that for herself. Red flag laws risk that, which is why they need to be overturned and put to an end for all time.