Owning and safely operating a gun saved my life. There is no other way to interpret my situation; without my gun, I would not be able to sit here, alive and breathing, and thinking of ways to share the importance of smart gun ownership with you.

I was violently attacked in my car by a man on January 26, 2016. I am a young, 5’3 attorney who probably was seen as an easy target. My attacker mistakenly perceived me as weak and stalked me into an elevator, which took me on the slowest and scariest thirteen second ride of my life.

I correctly listened to my instincts; I had a feeling that my life was in danger in that elevator and prepared myself mentally for what was potentially to come. I ran to my car in an attempt to escape and, before I could even get my entire body in my car, I was tackled by my attacker. This man quickly overpowered me, stabbed at me with a knife, clamped his hand over my mouth multiple times, and repeatedly tried forcing me in the passenger seat of my car while telling me, “We’re going.” The entire time this was happening, a rusted, serrated knife was being stabbed towards my abdomen and held at my face. I had been hit in the face, thrown over my driver’s side console, and had rips in my tights from his hands trying to force my legs up and over into the passenger seat.

There are some individuals that think gun owners are “trigger happy” and wanting to pull their weapons out at the first opportunity. There is nothing further from the truth.

The night I was attacked, I fought like hell for my life before reaching for my gun. I kicked, I screamed, I had all ten fingernails ripped off and bloodied from scratching and trying to fight my way out of a literal life and death situation. Ultimately, I accessed my gun, shot my attacker multiple times, and saved my life. He will be spending years in prison for what he did to me.

Using a gun in self-protection is not a decision one makes lightly; in fact, I never dreamed that I would be forced into a situation where I would have to do so. However, I also never imagined such evil existing in the world so that I would be powerless, wounded, on my back and unable to physically force my attacker off of me.

I owned a gun and had been trained on how to use it. I know how to safely carry and that a gun is a serious and significant weapon; it is not to be used carelessly. Naysayers and people with opposing opinions may try to undermine my situation with hypotheticals. I cannot answer these questions. All I can do is tell the facts of my story and the true account of how I saved my own life.

What I want you to know on Gun Awareness Day is that a gun in the hands of a potential victim is not improperly placed; it can be the only thing keeping her from being brutally raped and murdered. Without my gun, I would not be alive today. Guns are not the problem in America; men like my attacker -- who are willing to violently change one person’s life for no reason except for pure evil – are the problem. Be safe at all times. Be aware of your surroundings. Trust your instincts. Always be able to protect yourself. Refuse to be a victim, and instead be a fighter and a survivor. Live to tell your tale and make a criminal regret the day he chose you as a “soft target.” My gun saved my life, and one could save yours too.
 

Kristi McMains is a private attorney, specializing in health law. After sustaining significant health injuries from the attack, she moved back home to Indiana to be near her family.