Moms With Guns by Diane Alden
by Diane Alden
June 2, 2000
In the mailbox the other day was a fat envelope
filled with lots of neat stuff. Coupons, an insurance policy, a sticker for my
car, a plastic membership card with my name on it. My eldest son's belated
Mother's Day gift, a membership to the National Rifle Association. It is what I
asked for, and because he is a lifetime member he decided we would make it a
family affair. Now you have to understand I grew up in the prairie and woods of
Minnesota. It used to be a place where grandfathers, father, uncles, aunts,
siblings all learned how to use firearms at an early age. In the case of my dad
and his brothers it was a matter of putting meat on the table during the Great
Depression. Later that knowledge of guns and marksmanship helped all three Alden
boys, my dad and his two brothers, through World War II.
In the case of my brothers, my sister and me it
was just something we learned how to do along with learning how to ride a horse
and a bicycle. Consequently, I acquired a healthy respect for guns but was never
afraid of them. That is, unless they were in the hands of some untrained or
inexperienced dimwit, a criminal or a nut.
Later on as the wife of an airline pilot, with
three small children at home, I learned that guns were not just for hunting or
target practice. After several intensely bad experiences with break-ins and a
near home intrusion, we moved from Atlanta to a small town in west Georgia. Out
in the hinterlands I thought we would be safe at last. The kids could walk to
school, and I could leave the doors unlocked. As it turns out, even small towns
can be home to evil people with no good in mind.
Our house was a big 100-year-old Southern-style
home, better known to those who have tried to fix up an old house as the
"money pit." It had lots of glass doors and windows on the ground
floor. However, rarely did I worry about the fact that this might give someone
more options for breaking and entering. My whole attitude toward guns and my
naivete in thinking I was safe in a small town changed one hot night in July
My husband at that time was away on an
overnighter, airline parlance for a two-day trip. I didn't expect him back until
late Sunday. Used to being alone, I never gave it a second thought. Around
midnight I fell asleep watching Kirk Douglas in "The Detective." At
about 1:30 I was awakened by the barking of the neighbor's dog. The dog was
always barking, so I didn't pay much attention. Nevertheless, I couldn't go back
As I lay there in the dark I heard sounds
underneath the long row of windows next to the bed. Stealthy footsteps making
crunching sounds in the leaves. Of course right away I thought the neighbor's
dog had decided to use the bushes or some raccoon was on a rampage.
Nevertheless, the cold sense of dread in the pit of my stomach grew to the edge
of panic. That feeling born of instinct that women with children have; the one
that tells them when something is seriously wrong.
An enclosed porch was attached to the bedroom,
a kind of outdoor garden room that was nice to sit in and take the air on hot
summer nights. On the dark side of the house, the outside screen door was
difficult to see from the street. Through that door was a terra cotta tile floor
and the two full-length glass doors leading to the main house. This was all that
stood between me and the unknown shadows trying to break into my world.
A choking sensation rose in my throat. I knew
there were two of them because I could hear two voices as they fumbled with the
tools they would use to break in. For about five seconds I couldn't move. All I
could do was pray that they would go away. But they didn't go away.
I forced myself to peep out the curtain that
covered the glass door leading onto the porch. I saw two shadows, and I knew
then it was real. I knew I had to do something. Three small children were
sleeping upstairs, and they were depending on me.
Of course my first thought was to use the phone
and call the sheriff. There was no 911 back then, only the operator if I could
get through and the sheriff's number I couldn't remember. The phone rang and
rang for nearly a minute, and no operator answered, and I couldn't waste any
more time. The noises outside were growing louder as I heard them fiddling with
the wrought iron lattice that covered the screen door.
I remember praying to God to help me - to tell
me what to do. Then I knew what I had to do. I had to crawl on my hands and
knees across the library floor, the living room, the hallway and then up 22
steps to the second floor where my husband's gun was kept in a locked closet. I
can remember crying quietly to myself for what seemed like hours and waiting for
the crash of glass. That would be the moment I would find out if my aim would be
straight and steady. It would be a life-changing moment, deciding what is
important to you.
The flashlight shook in my hands as I found the
key to the closet and opened it and took the telephone and the phone book in
with me. The .38 wasn't loaded, and that was my first priority. My hands
trembled as I put six bullets in the chambers while all I really wanted to do
was throw up.
I kept thinking this isn't happening, it can't
be happening. This isn't Atlanta, for crying out loud. But it was happening and
I decided I would use that gun if I had to. I had three kids under 10 sleeping
in their rooms just down the hallway, and I had no choice.
Finally, someone answered the phone at the
sheriff's office. I stood in the small dressing room listening through the open
window to the sounds below, trying desperately to be clear so that the
dispatcher could tell the deputy who I was, where I was and what I wanted. The
two men had cut through the wrought iron lattice and the screen, and then I
heard the crash of glass. In just four minutes I could see lights but no siren
as the sheriff's car came down the hill toward the house. Luckily the deputy had
been on patrol on my side of the county. With even more good luck he had been
only three blocks away when the call came. If he had been in the other half of
the county it would have taken him 20 minutes to get to our place. I heard the
intruders drop tools and under the bright street lights watched as a white van
with red checked curtains in the back window drove down the street and out of
The sheriff's deputy took my statement, which
is all he could do. I was too far away in an upstairs dressing room to see a
license plate. He looked at the .38 sitting on the table and said: "I hope
you were planning on using that, ma'am. Remember it's better to be judged by 12
than carried by six." He needn't have told me that; I had made the decision
In a couple of months the two intruders were
caught trying to break in somewhere else. One of them was a young man I had seen
around town, and he had seen me and admitted to stalking me. The other was a
rogue police officer from a town south of where we lived. Both of them had been
high on something or other. What they had in mind I can't imagine.
To this day thinking about that night makes me
break into a cold sweat. But one thing I know they wouldn't have gotten to me or
my children. My dad taught me to shoot steady and straight.
It was a hot July night 20 years later, when
the little girl who slept through the incident in a small Georgia town in 1978
found herself backed into a corner. On her way to a night shift as a disc jockey
in Atlanta, my daughter developed car trouble. With no cell phone and about half
a mile from the nearest exit on I-20, like a sensible person she raised the hood
and waited for the highway patrol. A car stopped behind her, and she quickly got
back into her vehicle, opened the glove compartment, and put her .22 pistol on
the front seat next to her. The man who had supposedly stopped to help demanded
she get out of the car and give him her money. Then he saw her reach for the
gun. He ran back to his car and left in a squeal of tires.
She later told me, "I remember that day,
Mom, when I was little, when you told me sometime in your life you may have to
find the courage to do a terrible thing."
Unlike Rosie O'Donnell, Oprah Winfrey, Katie
Couric, Susan Erbe, Barbara Walters or Hillary Clinton and her
"million"-mom-march stooges, some of us reside in the real world. Some
of us don't live in high-security buildings, nor can we afford to pay for armed
protection for our children. Some of us don't live in gated communities with one
exit and a guard tower. Some of us depend on ourselves and always have.
Moms with guns are a lot better off than moms
who wait for 911. As the latest joke on the Net goes, "What are you going
to do when someone breaks into your home?" A. Call Rosie O'Donnell and tell
her to come over and nag the crooks to death. B. Wait 30 minutes for the police
to show up while your ex-husband is breaking through the door screaming,
"If I can't have you, no one will." C. Tell the bad guys that they are
breaking 28,000 gun laws then show them chapter and verse. D. Write down the bad
guy's life story for a Barbara Walters special while commiserating with him on
his miserable childhood.
Well, my handsome and successful No. 1 son just
helped me take a stand one more time. He has always been grateful that when the
crunch came he had a mom with a gun willing to use it should it become
necessary. By making me a card-carrying member of the NRA he reminds me why the
Second Amendment is so important to women like me, who for the most part have to
depend on themselves. My three wonderful grown kids know how to use a gun and
will do so if their lives or the lives of those they care about should ever
depend on it. After all, the apples don't fall far from the tree.
Diane Alden is a research analyst, writer,
historian and political economist. She writes a column for NewsMax.com,
Etherzone, Enterstageright, American Partisan, KeepAndBearArms.com and many other online
publications. She also does occasional radio commentaries for Georgia
Radio Inc. Reach her at email@example.com
or look for http://www.inflyovercountry
after June 10, 2000.