Right around when my dad left, when I was 3 years old, our neighborhood on Long Island experienced a crime wave of burglaries, which led my mother to keep guns in various parts of the house in case she needed one at a moment’s notice. That decision turned a story with a potentially tragic ending into one about a heroic single mother and her young daughter. Our incident won’t show up in the statistics about gun use in self-defense scenarios. I doubt my mother ever reported it to the police.
While it may seem counterintuitive to those who didn’t grow up around guns, in our house we saw them as tools of protection and empowerment for two women living alone.
After my first child, a daughter, was born I must have printed the paperwork required to obtain a gun permit in New Jersey a dozen times. Despite what many may think, the process is not simple nor is it quick, which led to my procrastinating for several years.
Over the Republican primary season, I was an outspoken conservative critic of then-candidate Donald Trump, and a torrent of hate rolled my way. I would later learn just how much: The Anti-Defamation League named me one of the top 10 Jewish journalists to be attacked by the alt-right during the election season. After years of receiving death threats for my conservative views, months of being attacked by the alt-right and then having our address published online by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, I pushed myself to finally go through the process of asking friends for letters attesting to my character, obtaining fingerprints and submitting to background checks.
I was given a reason to feel that I needed to defend myself and my family. And I acted on it.
In the wake of every mass shooting, there are renewed calls for gun control, and a demonization of the National Rifle Association (of which I was but am no longer a member). We are told that it’s not our guns — the guns of legal and responsible gun owners — that would be taken away, but those of the bad guys. But when those advocating bans don’t even understand the mechanics and basic terminology of guns, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
All Americans should expect law enforcement agencies, which missed opportunities to stop not just the Parkland shooter, but also the shooters in the Charleston and Sutherland Springs churches and the Orlando nightclub, to be able to protect us. You can forgive conservatives if we don’t believe that giving federal law enforcement officials more authority is the solution to shootings they bear some responsibility for.
That’s, in part, why many gun owners insist the answer isn’t a ban, but rather evaluating who can obtain these weapons. President Trump is now reportedly considering the idea of gun restraining orders, which have the ability to quickly take firearms away from those considered dangerous, like the shooter in Parkland. A variation of this law is already on the books in California. In 2016, 86 of these restraining orders were issued, and 10 were extended past the initial 21-day period they were granted for. Our side insists that people are the problem, not guns, and to make good on that we need to come to the table with ideas on how to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who have no business holding them.
This idea, popularized in a piece by National Review’s David French after the Parkland shooting, isn’t a panacea. But it is a middle ground for gun-rights supporters and gun-control activists to meet. Many supporters of the Second Amendment know something is broken, just as its opponents do, and ideas like Mr. French’s can bring many more to the negotiating table than calling for outright bans on guns or the notion that there are no legislative solutions to the gun violence issue.
But such a compromise will require gun-control activists to confront the lie of one of their favorite talking points: that gun-rights supporters care more about guns than children. For many, support for gun rights is motivated precisely by our devotion to protecting our kids.