In April 2009, my husband was shot six times in front of me in the middle of a busy restaurant by a man who was stalking me. I have a permit to carry a handgun but because of the law at that time in my home state of Tennessee, I had to leave the gun that I normally carried for self defense, locked in my car that night.
My husband Ben and I ran our mobile karaoke business out of a restaurant that served alcohol and my gun was forbidden there. I obeyed the law but my stalker, who was carrying a gun illegally, ignored it.
I noticed my stalker (a former karaoke customer) in the crowd that night and I knew something was not right. This was a man that I had blocked from my social network account due to inappropriate messages he had sent me.
He had never threatened me or my husband but he was definitely creepy.
My husband Ben had asked him to leave me alone before he showed up at this venue where I had never seen him before.
I realized at that point I was being stalked.
I asked the management at the restaurant to remove him.When they approached him and asked him to leave, he pulled out a .45 semi-auto and shot Ben. He then stood over him and continued to fire five more rounds into my husband.
I could only watch in horror and helplessness.
Since that terrible night I have learned that gun free zones are a predator's playground. This is where my stalker found us and where we were defenseless.
We all have a fight or flight response when we sense danger. We make decisions based on the options we have at that moment. Decisions must sometimes be made in a matter of seconds.
My only option that night was flight. Fight was not something I would have been able to follow through with because I was denied that chance. That basic human right was taken from me by a Legislature that unintentionally helped a predator hunt down his prey.
I hope that lawmakers around the nation will begin to understand that when you disarm law abiding citizens, you do not help protect law abiding citizens. Instead, you actually make it easier for those with evil intentions to be met with no little or no resistance.
In one way, I was lucky on the night my husband was shot and killed -- and so was everyone else in the restaurant. A United States Marine happened to be in the crowd, he tackled the man who killed my husband and held him until the police came.
I have been told the police arrived within 3 minutes after getting the 911 call. I can tell you that when something so terrible is happening to yourself or someone you love, even three minutes seems like an eternity. The familiar saying "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away" is very true.
I respect law enforcement. They have a very difficult job but even they know they cannot be anywhere and everywhere at anytime.
The majority of rank and file police officers I have spoken with support right to carry laws. They would much rather find an innocent person with a smoking gun and a dead bad guy than the other way around.
Unfortunately, most law enforcement officers fear speaking out in support of right to carry laws for fear of retaliation by their superiors, who, more often than not, are attuned to politics and not inclined to support self defense laws.
Then there are those who fear gun permit holders might do something wrong with a gun or hurt an innocent bystander.
I personally am more concerned about a bad guy shooting indiscriminately with no regard for innocent life rather than a permit holder who has had state certified training and fears criminal and civil penalties. Those penalties act as very real deterrents for good people. Less than one percent of permit holders ever do anything wrong with a gun. I can't think of any segment of society that is more law abiding.
It's time for law abiding people, who have taken proper legal measures to provide for their own self defense, to be allowed to carry a gun to places where they have a right to be present.
Evil can visit us anywhere. Signs posted on doors declaring "no guns allowed" do nothing to protect any of us.
Since my husband's murder, the law has been changed in the state of Tennessee. Handgun carry permit holders can now carry their guns into establishments that serve alcohol -- as long as they are not drinking alcohol and as long as the establishment has not posted a "no guns allowed" SIGN.
At least this gives law abiding citizens the ability to try to protect themselves. A right that my husband, Ben and I were tragically denied on the night he died.