I understand guns.
I understand gun owners.
I understand gun owners who hunt.
I understand gun owners who choose to exercise their constitutional rights. But I don’t understand why guns are considered as a first resort to control the outcomes of human life before choosing peace. No matter how much peace we speak in the world, there will still be killings of human beings by gun use, and I will continue to not understand. Until we all throw up our hands, and be more willing to speak peace and love, before pulling a trigger, we will continually shoot bullets and push bad outcomes on the world that we will never be able to erase, explain, or heal.
Tammy D. Rhodes. was born in Florence and raised in Muscle Shoals. “The Shoals is my home and I love it here.” She is an Administrative Assistant at the University of North Alabama, and is a minister, singer, director, actress, poet, and spoken word artist. “I work in one of the most diverse offices on the campus of UNA. I am a proud dog mommy to my true loves, Shug and Doozy! I’ve been known to hum a little bit and to spit some spoken word every now and again. But mainly I am a thriving spirit trying every day to leave a positive imprint on the world.
Education is the Key
I call my friend, Lois Crabtree “Annie Oakley.” Why? Because she target shoots. While I have an aversion to the spread and use of firearms, Lois is passionate about educating the Free World about gun safety and training. For this interview, I asked Lois to give GS a glimpse of her viewpoint on guns. -Victorine
GS: Were guns always a part of your life?
Crabtree: Always: as far back as I can remember. I shot guns as a child. It was really never a big deal to me. I was taught gun safety and how to respect them.
GS: Were guns just a part of your culture?
Crabtree: .I’m from a small town in Virginia, where guns were no big deal.
GS: As a collector, what do you like about guns; what makes you want to collect them?
Crabtree: I’m really not a collector, per se; I just have a few (guns). I like the way they feel in my hand. I like to shoot targets, and if I’m going to shoot, I like to have something that feels good to me. Every gun may not be comfortable for me. I want something that is going to fit my hand properly.
GS: While guns may be used as weapons, you like them more for sport?
Crabtree: Yes. I have no desire to shoot anybody over any circumstances whatsoever.
GS: You have no desire to shoot anyone, but you want the privilege of having one available, in case you have to protect yourself.
Crabtree: Yes, in case I have to protect myself.
GS: That comes to a question about the Second Amendment. What are your feelings about the right to bear arms?
Crabtree: I believe we should all have the right to protect ourselves and, in some situations, to protect others if we need to. I think it is my right to own as many guns as I desire.
GS: In reading the Second Amendment, do you feel it was created to form a militia at a time when it was necessary to gain freedom? Do you feel it applies to our country today?
Crabtree: I think it does. It applies to the right of protection – protection of your home, your property, and your family.
GS: How do you feel about qualifying people to carry guns? There are organizations that advocate for gun-sense laws that would better qualify gun owners. These laws would hopefully stop guns from ending up in the hands of those who are mentally unstable or have criminal backgrounds, for example.
Crabtree: I think gun owners need to have a permit. I think they need to have safety courses. If I had my way, gun safety would be taught in elementary school. That way children could learn that if they are playing with guns, it’s not like a video game. When you win the game, you start all over. When you shoot somebody, it’s permanent – there’s no turning back. For example, with gang initiations, when they shoot somebody, some of these kids might not realize how final (this action) is. I think they need to learn at an early age that if you take a life, it’s final. As far as regulating is concerned, typically it is not the law-abiding citizen that commits the gun crime.
GS: But there are a lot of cases where people are mentally unstable and carrying guns because they can. There needs to be a process to disable them from having and carrying weapons. Do you agree?
Crabtree: In a perfect world there would be a way, but I don’t know how. There are police officers who (can) go crazy, In a perfect world, it would be great if we could qualify, but I don’t have any suggestions on how we could do it.
GS: As an African American woman, how do you feel about the many atrocities, relating to guns in the African American community?
Crabtree: I feel the same about these crimes, as I would it they were knife crimes or if someone intentionally hit someone with a car.
GS: But since most of these atrocities are taking place by way of guns, does it alter your feelings at all about gun limitations?
Crabtree: It does not. In an ideal world, if we could screen…but I can’t just limit (weapons used) to guns.
GS: Just looking at the posted picture of about 20 African American young men who have been killed by police officers, not gangs; the idea that a gun is so easy to shoot, and are shot in the African American community, how does it make you feel?
Crabtree: You’re looking at two different questions – the police officers with guns and gun crime in the community. Police officers have to carry guns. I don’t condone some of their methods, but they have to carry guns. Can you imagine police officers in the United States without them?
GS: Is there anything you can think of that might alter the result of gun crimes in the African American community?
Crabtree: For the African American community or any other community in general, I still feel people should be educated at a young age
GS: You think that just the education might prohibit gun crimes?
Crabtree: I think it might. You see instances on TV where kids do things, and they don’t consider the ramifications of what they have done. If you take a child to a gun range with proper adult supervision, (they experience the effect) of guns and what they can do – they are taught early to respect the weapon. You teach them that when people are playing with guns, they should get out of the way. As my father used to say, “Bullets don’t have eyes.” You can be an innocent bystander and get in trouble. You respect (guns) and you leave.
A lot of it has to do with education, and in my opinion, education begins at home. There are adults that think private gun ownership is wrong. However, when they take a firearms class, they begin to see things more clearly. I think that if people would take a class, they would understand that guns are not what they think they are. I think that if we had more licensed concealed carriers, it might cut down on crime. The schools and colleges that have these problems have been gun-free institutions. If you were a criminal, you would go to that place where you knew that nobody else had a gun – a gun free zone.
GS: I know one of the pro-gun arguments has been that everyone should have a gun. Then, the bad guys wouldn’t shoot, for fear of retaliation. What would the world be like? Would you want to resort to the Wild West again?
Crabtree: No. That’s not what I’m advocating; that everybody should carry a gun I just think everybody should be educated, whether they carry guns, or not.
GS: I can’t help but see your Facebook posts about gun rights. What makes you passionate about gun rights?
Crabtree: Just the right to protect myself; the Second Amendment says I can – that it’s my right to do so. I don’t feel my rights should be taken away just because somebody decides that they should be. I like being able to protect myself. Hopefully, I won’t have to, but just in case…
GS: Hypothetically, if martial law dictated there were no way you could carry a gun, would you still carry one?
Crabtree: I would hope not to be a law-breaker.
GS: Is there anything else you want folks to know about guns?
Crabtree: My main thing is gun education. I’ll put in a plug for the Florence Police Department. They have Levels 1, 2, and 3 gun classes, and I would recommend that if anyone is considering gun ownership that they obtain a concealed-carry permit, and take those classes. You learn a lot. You don’t learn how to kill people. In those classes, you learn how NOT to kill people.
-Lois Crabtree Lois is originally from Tazewell, VA and has lived in Center Star, AL for 10 years. She is married to Billy Crabtree and is a homemaker. She is a Board member for the Special Programming and Achievement Network, (SPAN), and a member of Southside Church of Christ, in Rogersville, AL. She enjoys, target shooting, yoga, and traveling.