Packing Heat and Trusting Providence: Why I Own a Handgun
So I wasn't surprised to read in my local newspaper that a new shooting range in my area is attracting a significant portion of female clients. Locations around the country reflect similar patterns. A poll conducted by Gallup in October 2011 reported that 43 percent of women surveyed reported having a gun in their house, a record high since 1993, and 23 percent of women polled said they own a gun. Interestingly, in Texas, the fastest-growing group of concealed handgun owners in the state is black women. Also not surprising is the spike in firearms sales immediately after the Colorado movie theater shootings.
I know that Christians in favor of tighter gun control laws argue that as Christians, particularly ones like me who strongly identify as pro-life, we, of all people, should "love our enemies" and "turn the other cheek." But while as a Christian I try to cultivate my willingness to lay down my life for the sake of the gospel or for the life of another, I don't believe I'm supposed to risk my life for a would-be rapist. To me, being pro-life means protecting my own life, too.
Some might say I should simply give up my love of the outdoors and running (which I've enjoyed since I began running cross-country in Junior High), join a gym, maybe, or drive 20 miles one way into the city to run in a more populous area. But surrendering my freedom and giving in to evil so willingly doesn't seem like the call of the Christian either. Matters of stewardship play into the equation, too: stewardship of my time, talents and my physical and mental health. More than anything else, running meets these needs in my life.
Besides, the handgun is a self-defense strategy of last resort. I now run with a phone. I pay attention to my surroundings at all times. I text the plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles (or those whose drivers offer me a ride) to my husband's phone, and call immediately if I am alone on a long stretch and encounter an unfamiliar, parked, or slow-moving vehicle. And I gave up running on the beautifully forested road where the man in the truck accosted me the first and second time (the final time was on my own road).
Ultimately, in my running, as in all things, I must put my trust in the Lord, yet without testing him.
I was reminded of God's sovereign protection in yet another incident. I was running uphill on a two-mile stretch of a private, uninhabited dirt road when I saw an older model car with an out-of-state plate parked up ahead. A man was leaning against the car smoking a cigarette. Quickly, I pulled my phone from the pack that holds all my necessaries and called my mother, whom I knew to be home. I stayed on the phone with her as I ran a wide berth around the man and his car. As I crested the hill, I saw a police car sitting at the top. Unbeknownst to me, the officer, from his elevated position at the crossroads, had been able to see us the entire time and waited for me to arrive safely.