I remember what it felt like the first time I had my sense of newly built security ripped from me. I had just turned 19. I was so young. I was just a kid. Like most young people, I never thought that it could happen to me.
At the time I was in the military, living off base in Missouri with a female roommate. After about a week of noticing things were “off” in the house (the back door would be unlocked, then open physically, etc.) I brought it up at work.
Some of my co-workers said I was working too much. They even suggested I go speak to someone in mental health… but I kept listening to my gut instincts as I have done my entire life. That ultimately is what ended up keeping me safe.
Shortly after informing my work about what was happening in our house. The break-in happened. The local police got involved, the base got involved… everyone knew. As a result, my commander ordered us back on base because that was all he could do to keep us safe.
My roommate and I had been targeted and as a result, the only way to avoid us being put directly in danger was to be ordered onto a military installation with 24/7 security.
Soon after, I received orders to move down to Florida. I had gotten married and thought after moving I’d feel safer.
I was wrong. In fact, things got worse. Even at home, I didn’t feel safe. I had no way of defending myself. When it got dark outside, I’d go around making sure every door and window was locked. I couldn’t even sleep through the night. I had regressed to an almost child-like state of being afraid of the dark. I felt weak, afraid, even violated.
My husband was getting ready to deploy, so he was gone most of the time. I bought a big dog, but that didn’t help. I was suffering from a form of trauma, and it was a major problem.
But then a friend, a technical sergeant, explained to me what a concealed-carry permit was — and it changed my life forever.
In the military and law enforcement, guns are a tool that we all learn to use that allows us to defend ourselves. There is a misconception in parts of our society that label guns as “dangerous, evil weapons for destruction,” but that wasn’t my experience.
I quickly applied for my concealed carry and I was (until recently) able to sleep through the night again. I felt at that time that I could defend myself. I finally felt like myself — a young woman able to live her life to the fullest.
It was a wonderful transformation — one that I expanded on recently in an episode of my podcast, “Luna Talks with Anna Paulina.”
With my sense of security restored, I felt I had to share my story. I wanted people, especially women, to know they had an alternative way of dealing with fear and trauma. Little did I know this endeavor would cause such backlash, especially on social media.
My civilian friends didn’t understand why I needed a gun, even though I went through a traumatic experience. And these women’s clothing companies with which I was working wanted to cut ties with me after I began posting online about my story and using firearms.
The strangest response was people saying they didn’t want me to be political. I didn’t think I was being political. To me, the Second Amendment isn’t a political issue. It’s a matter of basic protection. I was simply sharing experiences to get people to realize that self-defense is an option. Was I not exhibiting the ultimate support for women by empowering them to feel safe and secure?
Yet I was being called a “terrorist” and “a baby killer.” But I didn’t care. I knew there were people out there who would benefit from my story.
This issue is especially relevant after COVID-19. According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, incidents of domestic violence spiked more than 8 percent nationwide in 2020 following lockdown orders. And mind you, these were just the reported incidents; so many victims don’t come forward.
What I went through was only a fraction of what many women endure. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, one out of every six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. What a sad and horrifying statistic.
Yet self-defense for women isn’t promoted in mainstream society — especially not in our schools — and there’s often a stigma around firearms (I know firsthand from the demonization I endured).
But if we truly want to empower women to be victors, not victims, shouldn’t we teach women how to defend themselves? Shouldn’t we demonstrate for girls how to feel secure and confident in a cruel world? Isn’t that a better long-term strategy than, say, decrying the patriarchy during a college seminar?
So, let me conclude with this: Thank God for the Second Amendment.
I want to pass this message on to people everywhere — especially women and victims of domestic violence. Because if we truly want to help, we should be empowering them, not hindering their God-given right to self-defense.
Anna Paulina Luna is host of the popular podcast ‘Luna Talks with Anna Paulina’ and candidate for Congress (FL-13).