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Hands Off My Gun
Defeating the Plot to Disarm America
By Dana Loesch
Read by Dana Loesch
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How many people in America today are truly well-versed in the history of the Second Amendment, and why it was included in the Bill of Rights?
In HANDS OFF MY GUN, Dana Loesch explains why the Founding Fathers included the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights, and argues that “gun control” regulations throughout history have been used to keep minority populations under control. She also contends that current arguments in favor of gun control are primarily based on emotions and fear.
This narrative is a must-read for every Second Amendment supporter. Dana Loesch is a determined and fierce advocate for those rights and shouts out: hands off my gun!
When I was a little girl, my grandpa took me out in his backyard. He showed me how to shoot food cans with a BB gun, then he graduated me to playing with my male cousin’s little green army men. He was obviously the kind of person who Barack Obama had in mind when he famously and derisively mocked gun owners and other rural Americans as “bitter” “clingers.” Talking about visiting small-town Americans as if he were on some kind of safari, the elitist Harvard-trained community organizer, believing he was talking to donors in a private setting, confided his total contempt. “It’s not surprising then they get bitter,” he said. “They cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”
Well, I guess you could say my grandpa was an OBC, an Original Bitter Clinger. The man thought bankers were crooks, doctors were quacks, and that the only things you could count on in life were God, family, and a shotgun. He probably wouldn’t care much for Barack Obama—not, as Obama apparently assumed, because anyone who disagreed with him was a racist. Instead, it was because the president lacks what my grandpa had in abundance: common sense. Obama organized communities—whatever that means. My grandpa actually lived in a community, and my visits there really changed my life.
Their little bolthole in the Ozarks was a sanctuary for a kid like me. The nearest supermarket was forty-five minutes away. If you needed beer or cheese in a pinch, the Mini Mart had you mostly covered; otherwise you killed it, milked it, caught it yourself, or distilled it in a bathtub. My grandparents ate everything they killed—raccoon, squirrel, fish, deer, turkey—and were grateful for nature’s bounty. They kept goats and harvested fresh eggs from their chickens most mornings. Grandpa would take his grandsons hunting with him and bring back whatever they killed, then let us granddaughters watch him skin and clean it in the backyard. One time he made me hold a squirrel’s legs while he pulled the fur off.
When I stayed with my grandparents during the falls and winters, I loved to curl up with blankets by their wood-heated stove. That often meant I’d wake up with whatever Grandpa killed last night carefully laid out as a joke beside me, their lifeless eyes staring straight into mine.
Nothing my grandpa killed ever went to waste. That’s how bitter clingers work in a community: They live in harmony with nature because they rely on nature to provide and sustain them. Hunting out of season or thinning a herd too much meant destabilization. Bitter clingers are conservationists, not environmentalists. They don’t need bureaucrats in plush offices in Washington lecturing them about how to protect the land; the land is essential to their way of life.
My grandparents always had some of us grandkids staying with them. Bless them, they were never left to their own devices, and I’m not sure they would have known what to do if they ever were alone. They had a few bedrooms in their tiny house, but it didn’t matter: The youngest grandkids would all somehow find their way into Grandma and Grandpa’s bed and they slept there, much like a little kid crowds their bed with stuffed animals. As a result, Grandpa was always falling out of his own bed or some kid was falling and getting stuck between the mattress and the wall.
One summer night I slept in their bed with my younger cousin as the cool valley breeze blew through the window, rustling through the curtains. The chorus of frogs and crickets outside was broken by the sound of someone sobbing and running up my grandparents’ gravel drive. The storm door slammed and there was commotion. I learned at a young age that you hear more if you pretend to be asleep, so I did just that when Grandma rushed down the hall to check on us before hurrying back down the dark hall toward the light of the living room. The late-night visitor was their daughter, my aunt, clad in nothing but nightclothes. She had been assaulted by her estranged husband. In between sobs, she told them that she had escaped after her husband tried to take a knife to her throat. When he had gone for his gun, she managed to flee. As she sat in her parents’ house, shaking, she was terrified that he’d come for her. Grandma called “the law,” but in a rural county such as these parts, “the law” could be miles and miles away. While Grandma dialed it in, Grandpa silently strode into their bedroom. His every step rang simultaneously with anger and with careful purpose. He quietly opened his glass-and-wood gun case, removed his shotgun, and strode back through the living room. From there he went right out to the front porch, sat on the swing, and cocked it.
As I listened to him rock rhythmically, creaking back and forth in that swing, I never felt safer in my life. I fell into a sound sleep.
I later learned that Grandpa sat on that porch swing until a deputy arrived nearly forty minutes after Grandma’s call. People were expected to be able to take care of their own, with prejudice. I didn’t know it at the time—it was really the only world I knew—but the Ozarks were different. It was a place different from other parts of the country where you cannot be prevailed upon to do anything without the aid or permission of the government. Where my family is from, it never occurred to us to outsource our self-defense to a distant law enforcement entity that had huge rural counties to cover with just a few deputies. It also never occurred to me that our grandparents’ or parents’ firearms were toys with which we could play. We knew what firearms were and that you can’t unpull a trigger; we were taught that lesson from the very first moment we could walk. Guns aren’t toys. The lesson about guns was so ingrained in our communities that people had them in gun racks in their pickups, without any fear that a child might grab one. That was unheard-of. My grandpa’s own handcrafted gun case didn’t have a lock and was used more to display his collection than to keep them locked away. Our parents taught us not to touch a hot stove, not to run into the street, not to play with guns. Most important, we were taught a respect for life.
“You don’t put your finger on this unless you’re fixin’ to kill something,” my Grandpa once sternly told me as I trained the barrel of my cousin’s BB gun on a He-Man action figure. When we moved to the city I was shocked at how many of my friends weren’t taught this. My mom kept a loaded .38 revolver in her nightstand; I knew it was there, and I knew that I was to never mess with it except as my last hope of defense. I mentioned it once to a girlfriend during a sleepover. She was shocked and wanted to see it.
“No,” I told her. My family also taught me respect for privacy. “My mother will ask you to leave.” And that was the end of that.
Living in St. Louis, I didn’t need to hunt for my own food, since supermarkets were minutes away. We had a few guns in the house for security, but that was the extent of it.
It wasn’t until I got active in politics that my life and the lives of my children were threatened that I got angry. Kids can tell when their parents are afraid. They can sense when their safety isn’t assured. I never wanted my family to have that feeling. I wanted my children to feel as secure as I did that night at my grandparents’s house, with my grandpa keeping watch on the porch, creaking away on his porch swing all night long.
How I Learned to Fight Back
I began blogging on politics in 2001, under a pretentiously ridiculous handle, “Catalyst.” I was twenty years old, struggling prematurely through a midlife crisis, and working out my political evolution online. I created a website with some friends and wrote about politics and pop culture. It received a fair amount of traffic and made the lists of various promoters, publishers, and PR flaks who constantly sent me materials. We covered music, interviewed some A-level indie artists, attended screenings, and penned film reviews; we wrote about politics with an unaffiliated, libertarian-infused, independent conservative perspective.
By the time I had my first child, as most mothers would understand, I didn’t have the energy to keep up with the site anymore. Plus many of my friends were getting married and moving away, so it didn’t make sense to continue. But I learned a lot during my stint as a web publisher. During my time as Catalyst, I experienced how nasty the Internet can be when empowered anonymous nobodies sitting in their bedrooms and hating the world think they can spit fire at you with no accountability. But that didn’t turn me off to the Internet. Despite this, or maybe because of it, the Internet felt like the Wild West. I could give as good as I got. I loved it. My voice grew stronger because of it.
When I had my second son in 2004, I began a new site called Mamalogues, and chronicled what it was to be a young mother who never set out for the idyllic family life I had created. Readership grew. I pitched the site as a weekly column for the daily paper; it was accepted and over time it became one of the most popular columns on their website. I suppose I could have just written about vanilla-wafer, noncontroversial things like where to get the best deals on diapers, but that wasn’t really my style. I was never someone who was afraid to stir things up. Readers were aghast when I wrote a column in support of public breast-feeding, but nothing matched the complaints that flooded into the paper when I penned another column about how I was a mother and a gun owner and kept firearms in my home, where my children lived and slept.
Judging from the contempt leveled down on me, you would have thought that I was forcing them to embrace my lifestyle and demanding that they themselves purchase a gun and give a rifle to each of their toddlers for Christmas. Suddenly I wasn’t edgy and provocative. I was—quelle horreur!—controversial. As a result, my editors advised me to tone down my “bluntness”—the very quality, of course, that they originally found appealing. I knew what was happening. These guys were bending to the pressure from within the paper and from the outside community—a platoon of little old blue-haired liberals who formed a significant segment of their readership. Even though I had won an award from the paper’s rival, an alternative weekly, for best column in the city, my own paper dropped me from print.
The official narrative offered to their readers was that we had gone our separate ways, but the actual narrative was that I was too often covering issues through a conservative lens. The column on firearms was the final straw. My departure created a big controversy in the local media; the alternative weekly, gleeful that they had dirt on their competitor, wrote a piece on the fallout and later put me on the cover of their publication, dressed as a revolutionary soldier in period uniform. Next, I was invited to appear on a local radio program in St. Louis, and from that I was given my own Sunday night broadcast (I am now nationally syndicated through weekday afternoons) where I kicked off the tea party movement in St. Louis; one of the first tea party rallies was held in the cold February of 2009. To a lot of fashionable people on the coasts of America, the tea party was another group of bitter clingers who dared to petition and—gasp!—demonstrate against their government without anybody’s permission. I felt right at home. The tea party movement restored my faith in the American political system.
That summer in 2009, everything changed for me, though, in the parking lot in a St. Louis suburb where Democrat congressman Russ Carnahan was holding a town hall meeting with his constituents. Until the formation of the tea party, congressional town halls were expected to be boring affairs where one or two people show up to air hyperpersonal grievances. The congressman puts on a show caring for their issue and gets his picture in the paper shaking the hand of Grandma Voter before sealing himself back into his Washington bubble. That was before the tea party.
During that hot summer congressional town halls became the places to be, where scores of angry citizens gave their tone-deaf government what for after Washington policies led to a deep recession while they spent taxpayer dollars on a billion-dollar bailout of their buddies on Wall Street and in the auto industry. People were hot with rage, and rightly so. This being America, there were also clever entrepreneurs onsite who were trying to make a living selling T-shirts and other paraphernalia to tea party crowds that had gathered. In St. Louis, the Democrats didn’t like that, and neither did their left-wing allies.
Because Kenneth Gladney was a traveling vendor who matched his wares to his audience, he was profiled by the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) as a black conservative. The union thugs didn’t take kindly to his presence at the Carnahan town hall selling Gadsden flags to scores of tea party attendees; Carnahan volunteers were caught on tape mocking him and calling him “black man.” This didn’t seem to be a new tactic for the labor unions. Since these were a group of liberals, it long had been OK for them to be racists. But this time I was at this event—and so were citizen journalists with cameras; as everyone was leaving the town hall, SEIU thugs ratcheted things up a notch. They attacked Gladney, even as cameras rolled. Yet because this was Democrat-rich St. Louis, a proud union town, the blue-collar attackers got off scot-free.
I worked to bring attention to this story. I covered it on air, wrote about it on my website, canvassed my Twitter stream with links to video, conducted interviews with Gladney and the various witnesses on the scene. I worked with others to identify and contact everyone in the parking lot who witnessed the assault.
Greta Van Susteren at Fox News was the first national reporter in America to pick up this story. I had been in my car, in the parking lot of the school where Carnahan’s town hall was held, about to leave for an appearance on Fox when the Gladney incident went down. I had already been planning to go on the show for another purpose, but as soon as I was miked and in the chair, I informed her producer of the breaking news situation. They wanted video as soon as I could get them any, which I did in time for their broadcast the next evening.
After my appearance on Greta came Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. And then conservative commentator and friend Andrew Breitbart emailed me in half CAPSLOCK to ask for footage and updates as SEIU fought and disputed the allegations. Andrew plastered his popular Breitbart website with updates and declared war on the media outlets that were ignoring the story. (Most of them.) Meanwhile, progressives put Gladney in their crosshairs—along with the few of us helping to bring his story to national attention.
It was during this time that the emails started. I had a public e-mail address on my flagship station’s site, KFTK 97.1 FM Talk. Before long that address was barraged with nasty e-mails and threats. Having been a commentator for a while now, I was used to this sort of response; the hot hatred had roughed up my skin and made me a bit tougher than I had any reason to be as a mother of two children. They failed to get the reaction that they wanted, so the calls began. People would cuss me out on-air. They would call and say horrible things to my call screener. They left nasty messages for my programming director. This was having no effect; the meaner they got, the harder I pushed.
After that people started following me. I was followed to the grocery store, to Walgreens, to work. My husband was followed and guys would sit outside his building, watching him whenever he entered or exited.
I pushed on—out of anger, out of spite, out of pure punk rock defiance. I was born for the storm and loved to fight. I thrived.
That is, until I received one more e-mail, which stopped me cold. One of the regular haters asked me how my kids were. He informed me that they knew where I lived, and that my kids might not be OK when I got home. As I looked down at those words, I was not a revolutionary anymore, or a catalyst, or a tea partier. I was not a cheerful warrior. I was a mom. I froze. The station deemed this e-mail had gone too far and involved the police.
“You need a handgun,” said one detective.
“You need to get your CCW” [concealed-carry weapon],” said another, a cop who later became the chief of St. Louis City Police. “We can’t be there all the time.”
I went home after my show that day, grabbed my kids, and sat in the lower level of my husband’s business, a former icehouse turned recording facility where the walls were four feet thick with concrete and brick. I felt untouchable in there. I was so stupid, I told myself. I decommissioned my parenting blog, privatized photos of my kids on my Flickr account, and thought about stopping what I was doing entirely. If I had to risk my family’s well-being, it wasn’t worth it. Almost as if it were in response to my inner monologue, my friend Chip called.
“Dana-doo,” he said slowly, “you stay right where you are. The Wolf is here. I’ve got your back. I’mma call you back in a few. Stay right by your phone.”
The word was spreading on Twitter that I had received threats while I was on air that day. Less than a minute after I hung up with Chip, my phone rang again. It was Andrew Breitbart, calling me for the first time.
“THESE BASTARDS,” he raved into the phone in place of “hello.” “THESE INSUFFERABLE BASTARDS. The safest place for you is in the light. The spotlight. Do not let these people throw you off from covering what is happening. Dana, if they can make you run away from it, it will establish a precedent. Then they can run anyone off. We will get through this.” Then he hung up. At that moment, I knew he was right. But I really wasn’t thinking about precedents.
Chip called back minutes later. That evening I had a dear friend of Chip’s, a veteran, a member of special ops, sitting outside my house to bring me peace of mind. Chip also had me drive out to the countryside to meet a guy who would teach me krav maga, the hand-to-hand combat techniques taught in Israel. He also arranged for me to meet with Laura Clark, a security expert and an author, for several months. Clark took us through situational awareness, surveillance detection courses, and taught me the basics of self defense. She accompanied me to a few events, including Sen. Claire McCaskill’s town hall at Jefferson College in the summer of 2009, where a group of men in purple SEIU shirts glared at me for a full hour and gave Clark cause for concern.
“Don’t ever show them that you are afraid,” Clark advised me. “Fear is their tactic. Defeat it.”
I went out and bought a handgun. Though I grew up with rifles, handguns were new to me. So I practiced. I got to know my firearm and shoot it well. I went for my CCW. I bought more handguns. While Andrew Breitbart worked to help elevate my story, I received a sense of confidence from the widespread public support I received. Chip worked to bring me peace of mind and a confidence in the security of my family. The efforts were effective. Probably more than my liberal provocateurs ever hoped. Scratch that. Definitely more than the left ever hoped.
As the days progressed, as I mulled over what these thugs had threatened to do to me, what they did do to a black man they didn’t like, how they used my love for my kids to keep me silent, I became enraged. It was a white-hot anger, a fire, that rose from my gut and seared my throat. Through that rage I became hyperfocused on the Gladney story. Instead of cowering before organized thuggery, I got louder. My words grew into sharp instruments. I pushed back twice as hard at every attempt to intimidate me. I was infuriated by the manifest hypocrisy in the media and by the so-called civil rights activists who didn’t have the time of day for a black conservative beaten by white liberals. I showed up to a protest outside of the NAACP’s office with Gladney and others and I screamed for an Al Sharpton march to counter the injustice. The illustrious reverend, a shepherd of the flock, a man supposedly of God who I personally believe reaps money off the backs of the minorities he hustles into the hurt-and-rescue tactics of the grievance industry. I once asked him after we appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher together whether or not he could name any black tea party members or black conservatives running for office. I named a few, including Cedra Crenshaw and Antoine Members of Illinois. Sharpton brushed them off. He hadn’t heard of them, he said, “and that’s only a couple.”
“It’s a shame you don’t know their names,” I retorted.
When Sharpton isn’t seemingly inciting riots leading to the incineration of fashion marts in Harlem, he’s playing fake reverend with Jesse Jackson, also a fake reverend. Whenever a black liberal is offended, the Wonder Reverends are first on the scene, though this concern isn’t equally extended to black conservatives, or even black Americans who may not be conservative per se, but were profiled as such because they sold a Gadsden flag to an elderly white woman in a St. Louis suburb. Sadly and predictably, they were nowhere to be found for Kenneth Gladney. Gladney wasn’t the right kind of black American—at least, so said the head of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP on a tape now widely available on the Internet, when he blasted Gladney as an “Uncle Tom” for selling Gadsden flags. I brought the story to the attention of Bill O’Reilly, who had the St. Louis NAACP leader on his show a day following one of my appearances, and the leader doubled down on the sentiment.
I called out the labor bosses by name along with their professional rent-a-thugs who showed up to fill audiences at Democrat events. The fear morphed into an indignant fury aided by the fact that unlike three months ago, this time I could protect myself. As the months progressed, my training led to the development of instinct. I walked to the parking lot from my radio station with confidence. I attended rallies with confidence, knowing that I could protect myself. I’ll be damned if anyone ever makes me live in fear or feel victimized again.
Finally, the thugs went away. The bullies lost. This, I learned, is how you counter bullies. Never allow them to make you afraid. You fight back.
* * *
What all of this means to say is that I take gun rights very personally. I view it as a threat to my and my family’s well-being whenever anyone seeks to erode or take away my Second Amendment civil liberty. The people screeching about disarming someone like me, a mother trying to protect her family—and make no mistake, that’s exactly what they are doing—do not face what I face. They have not been threatened by their fellow citizens as I have been threatened simply for expressing a political thought contrary to their own. These individuals find their security by hiring private security or, if in office, security at taxpayer expense. I don’t have such a luxury. These individuals also may find security in outsourcing their protection, such as depending upon the local police or a guard at the door of their secured apartment buildings. I do not find security that way. I trust no one but myself and my husband when it comes to keeping my family safe. I’ll call 911, but until law enforcement arrives, I and my husband will hold down the fort. Perhaps I learned that from my grandfather, his shotgun laid across his lap as he gently swayed on the front porch swing. It’s what I know and I think it’s what millions of Americans who grew up in “flyover country” know. It’s what infuriates us when empty-headed liberals or community activists or elitist politicians mocking God and guns tell us that we don’t have a right to defend ourselves.
Once again I’m facing bullies; this time it’s the anti–Second Amendment gun control lobby. They wear designer suits; they’re driven in chauffeured SUVs; they’ll go on MSNBC and flash their whitened smiles and explain how more women should be left to the devices of brutes who would ravage them “for the children,” as the talking point goes. I’m not fooled, though. These white-collar gun control thugs are a criminal’s best friend. They may not rob or rape you themselves, but they aid in making it possible. See, without their help, criminals would have far less vulnerable prey.
* * *
Among the most notorious anti–Second Amendment advocates are former New York City mayor (and kazillionaire) Michael Bloomberg, his dwindling Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and their associated group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. (They couldn’t pick a name that didn’t sound like a porno title?) Unlike the tea partiers these people mock, these are anything but grassroots groups that sprouted up from Middle America. The Moms Demand group, for example, is fronted by a professional Fortune 500 PR exec whose campaign involves bringing around a minivan (when a chauffeured SUV with tinted windows isn’t available) driven by supposed soccer moms who want to disarm America. When I guest-co-hosted “The View” in 2014, Shannon Watts’s group frantically tried to get me booted from the show, launching mass e-mails, Facebook petitions, and a Twitter campaign. They called me “Nancy Lanza,” the mother of serial killer Adam Lanza, as if I was somehow responsible for the 2013 murder of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They claimed that I was paid by the firearms and accessories manufacturer Magpul, because a reporter and I rode in a rented chopper with a Magpul sticker on it for fifteen minutes while at a rally on behalf of my friend Kelly Maher’s Coloradan grassroots group Compass Colorado. Even if I had been a Magpul employee or paid by Magpul—which I wasn’t—so what?
Second Amendment supporters turned out in droves to counter the hateful push from the Moms Demand crowd. When I walked into makeup at the View studios in New York, the fight was one of the first things Whoopi Goldberg brought up.
“Why are so many people angry that you’re here?” Whoopi asked me. She described how people were cluttering up her Twitter timeline screeching about guns. Jenny McCarthy agreed.
“Just the wrong way to go about that,” McCarthy said, shaking her head at the Moms Demands group.
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- Oct 21, 2014
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