pie have earned a lot of money contractingrnto develop this thing, and thenrnthrough that same money source theyrnrun it through the government. Andrnwhen you have that kind of resource behindrnyou” —$5.6 billion —”you can buyrnyour way into a lot of places.”rnKatherine Dalton writes from HenryrnCounty, Kentucky. This article is basedrnon a J 997 interview with Kent MastersonrnBrown.rnGUNSrnDistaff Defensernby Heather E. BarryrnThe Second Amendment of thernConstitution reads “a well regulatedrnMilitia, being necessary to the securityrnof a free state, the right of the people tornkeep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”rnThis amendment meant veryrnlittle to me growing up in a small townrnon Long Island. I thought the right tornbear arms meant that people in the “old-rn— LIBERAL ARTS —rnMAYBE YOU’RE ON TOrnSOMETHING, TEDrn”I really believe that there are hugernforces arrayed against us. The forcesrnof ignorance, lack of education andrnprejudice and hatred and fear. Thernforces of darkness in general. . . .rn”How can we not win? We’rernsmarter than tliey are. . . .rn”I’ll put my money on the smartrnpeople against the dummies. If thernsmarts can’t beat the dumbs, we’rernreally not that smart, are we?”rn— Ted Turner, acceptingrnthe Leadership Award fromrnZero Population Growth,rnquoted in the Population ResearchrnInstitute Reviewrn(January/February 1998)rnen days” had the right to hunt for food tornfeed their families. Then three yearsrnago, while attending Pepperdine University,rnI heard a professor, Roger McGrath,rnspeak about the Second Amendment inrna very different way. After class, I told Dr.rnMcGrath that I was curious about howrnhe came to his understanding of the SecondrnAmendment. Delighted that he inspiredrnone of his students, he providedrnme with a brief bibliography of booksrnand articles and sent me to find out forrnmyself why the Second Amendment isrnan essential part of the Bill of Rights.rnAfter extensive reading, I soon realizedrnthat the Second Amendment is notrnan antiquated right pertaining solely tornhunting on the frontier. The first hardrnlesson I learned made it clear that thernBill of Rights does notgfve people rights.rnThe first ten amendments protect thernrights that the people already have —rntheir inalienable rights—from infringementrnby the federal government. ThernSecond Amendment states only that therngovernment cannot violate the right tornkeep and bear arms. For the FoundingrnFathers the principal purpose of the SecondrnAmendment was to guard againstrnthe development of tyrannical government.rnAdditionally, the right to bearrnarms is also needed for personal protectionrnagainst criminal activity.rnI am a single 23-year-old graduate student,rnand the right to own a firearm is essentialrnfor my self-defense. Wliile growingrnup, I always had my father at home tornprotect me —and I felt safe. However,rnwhen I went away to college, I soon realizedrnthat if I did not want to be easy preyrnfor some mugger or rapist, I had to learnrnto protect myself Although I am an athleternand quite physically fit, I am not capablernof overpowering most males. Havingrnrun tiack, I used to cling to the naivernbelief that I could outrun an attacker.rnHowever, losing a few races against severalrnof my male friends who were notrnregular runners enlightened me. Menrnand women are different: the average femalerncannot outrun the average male.rnOnce I decided that owning a gun wasrnthe only way to protect myself effectively,rnI realized that I knew nothing aboutrnguns, let alone how to shoot them.rnMoreover, I was afraid of them. Then, Irnheard about a woman, Paxton Quigley,rnwho taught self-defense and gun-safetyrnclasses to women. I immediately signedrnup and attended. I found women atrnthese classes who had a similar fear ofrnguns but who also knew the importancernof self-protection. I soon became awarernthat a gun is a useful but dangerous toolrnthat should be respected but not feared.rnAfter I realized the importance of thernSecond Amendment, I began discussingrnmy findings with classmates and professors.rnTheir responses ranged from ignorancernabout the Second Amendment tornthinking that I was part of some militiarngroup. Not many ofthem allowed me tornexplain my position.rnSeveral of my peers said I was wrong tornbelieve that I needed to protect myselfrnwith a gun because the police would protectrnme. Unfortunately, the police cannotrnbe at every street corner, parkingrngarage, and house to provide protectionrnfor every individual. Even if the policernare called in an emergency, it usuallyrntakes 15 to 20 minutes for them to arrivernat the scene, which is long enough forrnthe attacker to commit his crime andrntake off.rnA few people suggested that I use “lessrnoffensive” weapons, such as a knife, pepperrnspray, or even karate. However, thesernweapons are often more dangerous to thernvictim. A knife is a weapon that requiresrnclose contact, and this creates the potentialrnfor a bigger and stronger attacker torntake the knife away and to use it on hisrnvictim. Pepper spray is also a close-contactrnweapon that often only aggravatesrnthe attacker and makes him more vicious.rnKarate is the ultimate close-contactrnweapon and, like all martial arts, requiresrnyears of hard training. In the end,rnnone of these weapons is as effective as arngun.rnFor an average female like me, a gunrnprovides the best defense. A gun is anrnequalizer between large and small,rnstrong and weak, men and women. Irnhave an inalienable right to self-defense,rnand without this right, I cannot considerrnmyself a free person. Even though I havernnever been attacked and hope that I neverrnam, I will be prepared. I have oftenrnbeen told that chances are, even if I haverna gun when attacked, I will not be able tornuse it or that the gun may be used againstrnme. However, studies indicate that justrnthe opposite is the case, that those whornare armed and fight back suffer less severerninjuries or are less likely to be killedrnthan those who do not defend themselves.rnI have made my choice. I shallrnnot weakly submit.rnHeather E. Barry is a doctoral candidaternin history at the State University of NewrnYork, Stony Brook.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn