Katherine von Tour
Most people who support the Second Amendment have
probably wondered at one time or another how to
change the thinking of anti-gunners.
Since I was once a staunch gun-control proponent,
including being a member of Handgun Control Incorporated
(HCI) in the 1970's, but am today a fervent and
virtually no-compromise Second Amendment supporter,
perhaps the story of my mental shift will be of
When I recall my mindset in the 1960's, when
I was in college in Chicago, and in the early
1970's, when I was teaching grade-school in a
private school in Pennsylvania, what I remember
most is how completely convinced I was that government
was the best and ultimate answer to all of society's
ills -- war, poverty, crime and injustice.
I was a true Sixties liberal, who protested the
Vietnam War, sported a "Question Authority"
bumper sticker on my Volvo, who was a charter
member of the National Organization for Women
(NOW) and a charter subscriber to Ms Magazine.
I voted for George McGovern. I hung out with
other earnest liberals, many of whom were also
members of NOW. It wasn't that I believed government
was perfect - far from it! - but I had blind faith
that, with enough effort and money, it could be
My idea of a perfect government was one which
had a generous welfare program, free medical care
for all, lots of benign and helpful social programs,
and government-mandated fairness and equality
I joined NOW because it promised to fight for
equality under the law for women; it encouraged
women to empower themselves, and to be independent.
Since I was a single woman, these all sounded
like a sensible ideas to me.
I joined HCI because it had convinced me that
guns were a root cause of violence and crime,
and that only criminals owned and used them.
The Liberal Years:
I had grown up stationed with my family overseas,
and had been sent to private boarding school in
Honolulu, where my family is from, and then to
Chatham Hall, a young ladies' "finishing
school" in Virginia.
Most of my life had been protected and privileged;
while my family didn't have a lot of money, we
somehow gave the illusion that we did, since we
lived overseas, complete with servants and first-class
travel paid for by my father's company.
I had been raised, as my mother puts it, "to
be a lady," and certainly "ladies"
in our social circle weren't trained in self-defense,
particularly self-defense involving firearms,
which, in any case, were completely banned in
the countries where we lived.
After graduating from Northwestern, and doing
graduate work at Lehigh, I got a job teaching
6th grade at a private day school in Pennsylvania,
where I stayed for 10 years, during which time
I was an earnest and unwavering liberal.
It was during this time that I joined HCI and
NOW, and crusaded loudly and vociferously against
The "Bubble" Bursts:
After ten years of teaching, I was still making
very little money, and had burned out. I decided
to move back to Hawaii, which was my home, and
where my parents had retired after 25 years of
being stationed overseas, and purchase a franchise
of a skin-care and cosmetic business, whose products
were sold through home shows.
I spent five ghastly years in Honolulu, struggling
to run a business in a government climate which
was as socialistic and larded with welfare and
social programs as any I had previously worked
towards; those five years were the undoing of
I tried in vain to recruit women who were on
welfare to work to do home shows and make money
by being independent, but I could in no way compete
with the obscenely generous welfare benefits they
were receiving for staying home and doing nothing,
except in many cases growing pakalolo, (marijuana)
which they had plenty of time to do, since all
of their needs were more than being met by the
The Hawaii State Labor board delivered the final
death blow to my business by declaring that all
of the independent contractors who worked for
my company - and whom I could hardly convince
to work at all - were to be classified as "employees,"
and that I had to pay unemployment, workers' compensation
and health care for them.
The government cared not a whit that there was
no money in my company to fund this state-mandated
largess. I was forced to close down the business,
to file bankruptcy, and I moved back to the Mainland,
my formerly liberal tail between my legs, a newly-hatched
I no longer saw government as the solution to
social problems. It certainly hadn't solved mine,
nor had it encouraged my trying to create jobs
for the people of Hawaii, jobs which they didn't
want to do because it was too much work, even
though the Honolulu Star Bulletin was filled almost
every week with whining letters from people complaining
that there were no jobs to be had, and imploring
the government to "create" more jobs.
With the fervor and passion I had previously
reserved for trying to get the government to expand
its powers and programs, I began to read the writings
of conservative and libertarian authors -- Bastiat,
Hayek, Thomas Sowell and others. I also plunged
into the writings of the founders of America -
Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Paine, George Mason.
I started meeting people who had also been abused
by government agencies - the police, Customs,
DEA, IRS and others. I started hearing stories
of people having property seized without due process,
and of people calling 911 and not having the police
not show up in time.
But the pivotal turning point for me was the
Los Angeles riots.
Armed in L.A.; guns save lives:
I was living in Orange County at the time, but
had to go up to LA regularly on business. At that
time there had been a rash of violent car-jackings,
many of them committed against women who were
A friend, who knew a great deal about guns and
had grown up around them, told me that, because
I was a woman living and driving alone, he wanted
me to start carrying a pistol in my car.
He lent me a .38 Special, and showed me how to
load, unload and fire it.
One day, just before the riots exploded, I was
driving in downtown LA in a scary part of town.
It was dusk. As I was stopped at a stop-light,
with one car in front of me, two men who had been
watching me began quickly and menacingly approaching
my car from the sidewalk. One of them was carrying
a tire iron.
I grabbed the pistol, which I had laid on the
seat beside me, and held it up so they could see
The look in their eyes changed in an instant
from threatening to fearful, and they immediately
turned around and ran in the opposite direction.
The light changed. I drove away.
No one was hurt, but a gun in my formerly liberal
hand had, I believe, probably saved my life, or
at least prevented me from likely injury.
L.A. Riots turn anti-gun advocates into pro-gun
Within a week, the very street where this incident
happened had erupted in rioting, looting and killing.
I watched on television as the Korean grocers
defended their property with AK-47's and AR-15's,
and thus prevented it from being torched and looted.
The police couldn't stop the violence and killing.
I had friends who worked in the garment district
in LA who barely made it out alive, and who told
tales of pulling out pistols and having would-be
attackers turn tail and run away.
Guns were saving lives and property.
As the riots threatened to spill over into Beverly
Hills, myriad Hollywood types stormed gun stores
to arm themselves, only to be told that there
was a 15-day waiting period; radio talk shows
boiled with people calling in and screaming about
how unfair this was, and how the law was leaving
Some of them even admitted that they had previously
supported the waiting period, and that they were
now furious that it had left them unarmed.
Coming full circle: From HCI to GOA:
My transformation was complete. I joined the
National Rifle Association (I didn't know about
Gun Owners of America or Jews for the Preservation
of Firearms Ownership yet) and started reading
their literature. I bought and read "Armed
and Female" by Paxton Quigley - another ex-gun-control
I fell in love with and married the friend who
had lent me the .38 Special, and started learning
in earnest about guns and how to use them. We
joined GOA and JPFO.
And the National Organization for Women? Here's
the thing that makes me crazy about an organization
ostensibly dedicated to the empowerment of women
- NOW is uncompromisingly and adamantly anti-gun,
including urging all women to disarm themselves,
and supporting legislation to force their disarmament.
The incongruity and hypocrisy of this stance
is simply stunning. How can such an organization
claim to be "for women?" In my experience
as a single woman, there is nothing more effective
than a gun for protection.
In my experience as a married woman, when my
husband can't be there to pull out a firearm to
protect us and our home, he has made sure that
I can do so. What could be more empowering and
independent and equalizing for a woman than that?
And what could be more threatening to women than
women like Sarah Brady, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein,
Carolyn McCarthy and Barbra Streisand who, while
beating the drum for "women's rights"
are attempting to disarm women as well as men,
and leave them at the mercy of criminals? I still
believe fervently in the original NOW position
supporting the empowerment of women.
And I believe that the most effective thing any
woman can do to empower herself is to acquire
and learn to use a gun, and to become vocal and
aggressive in defending gun rights and the Second
When I look back on my mindset when I supported
gun control, I see that I was naïve, idealistic
and swayed by irrational, baseless propaganda,
especially the absurd myth that, by disarming
law-abiding citizens, society will be made safer.
There is absolutely no hard evidence to support
this. Criminals by definition disregard laws,
especially gun control laws. In Australia, which
has disarmed its population, it is reported that
violent home invasions have increased in some
areas by 44%. Rapes and murders have also increased
In being confronted by the reality that government
cannot and will not guarantee my personal safety,
I am infinitely thankful, both as a woman and
an American, that the Bill of Rights still guarantees
my right to defend myself with a gun. Any true
feminist must support this position. Any woman
who claims to be a feminist, but who supports
disarmament of law-abiding citizens is simply
a dangerous hypocrite.