My college experience didn't go as planned: I was the victim of rape. It was something I thought could never happen to me. This was something that only happened to other people, something you see on "Law & Order: SVU." Instead of Detectives Benson and Stabler swooping in to save the day, I was left completely broken – replaying the events of that day over and over again in my mind wondering where I could have gone wrong.
I was raised around guns and was taught about responsible gun ownership at a very young age. When I turned 21 years old and was legally able to carry a gun, I immediately felt safer. Nothing could harm me because my firearm was the great equalizer.
There was one minor issue: my Second Amendment rights didn't exist on my college campus.
My right to self-defense should not be up for debate. I was naïve and believed what they told me during orientation: that there was no need to worry because campus police are only a phone call away. All was well until that fateful evening when I became another statistic.
The details of that horrific event don't matter. What does matter is this: Research has shown that women aged 18-24 are three-to-four times more likely to be victims of sexual violence compared to women in general. Given my background, I would be lying if I said my sexual assault turned me from a gun-grabber to a Second Amendment advocate, but I did have one big realization.
My rape made something very clear: My right to self-defense should not be up for debate.
It does not matter if you are a bleeding-heart feminist who actively tries to fight against rape culture. It does not matter if you believe rape culture doesn't exist. It really doesn't even matter if you don't even believe my own account that I'm disclosing to you now.
What does matter is that women deserve the right to choose how to defend themselves.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 11.5 million females this fall on colleges and university campuses across the United States, compared to 8.9 million males. Women are clearly the majority of our college campuses, and yet we are not doing everything we can to empower them to defend themselves against possible harm. We must empower women and give them a choice: the choice to take their security into their own hands by legally carrying a concealed firearm on their public university campuses.
I am a law-abiding citizen and have jumped through all the hoops required by the government to get my concealed carry permit. I have proven that I am competent with firearms and have taken the necessary safety class. I allowed for the government to run the mandatory background check on me. I even paid the $50 Virginia application fee. I'm allowed to protect myself in movie theaters, malls, and most other public places, but my right to self-defense is suddenly negated on most public university campuses. Why?
I can't even begin to tell you how much safer I would feel if I knew I had a reliable method of self-defense available to me. After my rape, I took time off of school to emotionally recover, and after much consideration, I decided the best thing for my mental health would be to withdraw from my previous university and move back home. I currently attend a university in my hometown and am set to graduate in May. While I've picked up my life and actively work towards healing myself, the issue remains.
In order to graduate in a timely manner, I have to take night classes. Four nights a week, I leave campus after dark. I can't even begin to tell you how much safer I would feel if I knew I had a reliable method of self-defense available to me -- but on my public university campus, I don't.
I'm left defenseless.
I still carry with me the emotional scars from my rape, but I have chosen to speak out. I refuse to ever be victimized again, and all I am asking for is to be able to utilize the rights guaranteed to me by the Second Amendment of the Constitution to ensure that I will never again be a victim.
Reprinted from The Washington Examiner