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Why we plan to teach our kids the safe use of firearms

I didn’t grow up around guns, or people who shot them. My family was in no way anti-gun, it just wasn’t something that anyone was into. I remember being about ten years old and visiting a relative in Arizona and shooting a pistol (with an adults help and supervision, of course), but that single event was the extent of my experience with firearms. As a teenager and single adult, I was always extremely independent. I never worried about myself, even when I probably should have. I have always had fairly good situational awareness, which has gotten me safely through some scary situations, but looking back, I can see that I’ve been pretty lucky a few times.

Realizing my vulnerabilities

One of the situations that often comes to mind happened when I was 20. My friend and I were driving from Washington to California together and stopped for a nights stay in a hotel. It wasn’t a fancy place, but it certainly wasn’t trashy in any way. We passed the same man a couple of times while checking in and going back to our room after getting dinner. A little while after entering the room, there was a knock at the door. My friend and I froze and remained quiet, sure it wasn’t anyone we knew and hoping they’d go away. I looked in the peephole and saw that it was the man we’d passed in the hallway.

After a couple of knocks he went away and we breathed a sign of relief. Then a moment later the phone rang. We froze again. I decided to answer it, thinking that it could be the front desk or something. I answered, “Hello?” A man on the other end said, “I just saw you in the hallway.” Long pause… and then, “You didn’t say hi to me.” Creepiest. Moment. Ever. I said, “Sorry,” and abruptly hung up the phone. Actual chills went down my spine and I called the front desk immediately. I gave the hotel manager the details of what had happened and a description of the man. He was very sympathetic and told me that there were cameras all over the hallway and they’d be keeping an eye on things the whole night. My friend and I went to bed.

The next morning, we went to get grab a fast breakfast and get the heck out of there. We packed our bags, checked out and headed to the car. To our horror, we found that the same man, along with an apparent friend of his, was packing up to leave at the same time and was parked right next to my car. We tossed our bags into the car, threw ourselves inside, I locked the doors and we drove off. The men left immediately after we did. Keeping an eye on their car, we found that they were getting onto the same freeway. Concerned that we’d end up at the same rest stops or they’d start to follow us, I suggested that we pull off on the next exit and kill several hours to put some distance between us. Thankfully, we never saw them again.

I need to have a way to protect my kids

Fast forward to having children, I began to have growing concerns about the safety of my kids, and a realization of just how unprepared and unequipped I was when I was out with them both, alone. I began to feel so exposed. The unmasking of the enormous amount of child trafficking in the country deepened my resolve to figure out how I could equip myself to protect myself, my kids, and those around me if something terrible should ever happen.

I began to do a lot of research to figure out what would be a good fit for me regarding what I could carry. I spoke with people I knew, I watched pro and con videos on YouTube, and I talked with my husband. I thought about practicality, ease and safety of use and training needed. I finally decided that I wanted to carry a concealed firearm, and my husband supported me in beginning the process of education and training needed. And then, the pandemic hit.

The pandemic was a wakeup call

I saw the world go from scary, to scarier. I saw uncertainty increase, and with that, the panic buying began. Toilet paper began to be scarce, yes, but so were guns and ammo (you need plenty of ammo to learn and practice!). I also couldn’t take any classes or get practical training, because everything was shut down. In order to conceal carry a firearm in my state of North Carolina, you must complete a firearms course and pass a shooting evaluation. Then you have to make an appointment with the local sheriff’s office and get fingerprinted and complete some paperwork, then you wait for the background check to be completed and paperwork to go through.

Suddenly it was taking six months just to get the appointment. The options I thought would always be there waiting for me, were not so easily available anymore. And with many criminals being let out of prison because of COVID, my concerns only continued to heighten.

Being prepared and teaching my kids

A year later, I’m inching my way along in the process. I slowly continue to work on my training, ammo is still hard to get, and much more expensive. I am currently waiting on my appointment at the sheriff’s office. I so regret that I wasn’t taught the safe use of firearms growing up, and encouraged to exercise my right to own one, and to carry it with me.

I am already teaching my six-year-old the rules of firearm safety and handling, and my husband and I plan to get him a BB or pellet gun to practice on, before graduating to a small pistol. And my daughter as well, when she’s a bit bigger. If both our kids get to be of age and don’t have the desire or see the need to own or carry a firearm, well that’s up to them, and that’s fine! But if not, they’ll have the necessary skillset already in hand.

And I hope that they will be empowered to make themselves equal to the task of protecting themselves and their families in a world that, more and more, seems to look down upon the real and true empowerment and personal responsibility of it’s people.

Melissa Darnell

I am originally from the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver, WA to be exact, but now reside with my husband and two beautiful children in the Charlotte, NC area. I grew up a performer, and spent most of my time both dancing and teaching ballet. When I was 20, I moved across the country to Florida, where I drove back and forth between Orlando and Tampa, performing in different capacities at both Walt Disney World and Bush Gardens. I spent the rest of my time obtaining my Pilates teacher certification and then worked at a local Pilates studio as well. After three years in Florida, I moved back to Washington state where I taught Pilates and worked as a nanny, a few years later, my best friend introduced my husband and I, via the internet. We were married just 9 months later and my husband moved from his home in Charlotte, NC to be with me in WA a few months before we married. Ten months later, our son was born, and just over two years after that we were blessed with our second. After that, life circumstances, and many doors being shut for us in WA, led us to make the decision to move our little family across the country back to North Carolina, where we remain to this day. My journey as a mom has been somewhat unconventional for sure, my second baby was born at home for instance. I always feel the desire to advocate for and help educate others, the way I would have liked when I was making my early parenting and baby decisions. How overwhelming it is nowadays! I have been a teacher since I was a teenager, in some way or another, and so I suppose that you could say God has blessed me with the gift of teaching and exhortation. One of my newest hobbies is that of cooking, as much from scratch as possible, which is amazing to me, given that I always used to be terrified of it! I even hope to begin a Youtube channel soon with cast iron cooking demonstrations, but, one thing at a time! These days, I am very much enjoying being a full time mom and wife, and am preparing to begin homeschool for my firstborn. I am loving learning how to Garden and cook new and healthy things. I love so much being able to parent my own children now, and am so grateful to God for the immense blessing of these two little ones. It is incredibly difficult at times, our family has been through some really tough things, but I trust in the Lord, and remember that though he never says we will be without difficulty, he does promise to be our help, and so he has been.

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