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September 2014 Defender- Rachel Lucas

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

VICTIM ADVOCATE SAYS GUNS ‘EMPOWER’ PEOPLE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES

Salem, Ore., resident Rachel Lucas, who grew up in a liberal, anti-gun household, seems on her way to becoming a gun rights advocate that gun prohibitionists could ever experience.

A survivor of a brutal attack several years ago – the kind of incident which she acknowledged “changes your life forever” – the mom, former music and voice teacher, is now a proud gun owner and an activist for gun rights and crime victims. She has an Oregon Concealed Handgun License (CHL) and carries.

She has testified before the Oregon Legislature against various gun control proposals. In the wake of the horrible attacks at the Clackamas Mall and Sandy Hook, she founded Safer Oregon – Oregon Crime Victims for Self Protection.

“At one point in my life,” Lucas told Point Blank, “I really was anti-gun. I bought the whole Brady thing hook, line and sinker. But when I went shooting; if we can get women to try out shooting, then we win them over.”

Following her violent attack, which she detailed in a riveting August Op-ed article that appeared in the Salem Statesman-Journal, Lucas went through “a lot of therapy.” She experienced panic attacks.

“You think you’re over it,” she said, “but then something hits out of the blue, some new challenge that you have to work through. You heal, but the scars are always there.”

Now something else is there as well: Confidence.

“When I shot a gun for the first time,” she recalled, “I realized a whole area where I had been scared. It empowered me…I know I can protect myself.”

She took a class, which is a requirement to obtain an Oregon CHL, and after buying her first handgun, she “went shooting every week.”

Lucas is hardly the only woman who has lived through a traumatic experience, and she has determined that by stepping forward and telling her story, others are inspired to do likewise.

“If they’re going to attack women,” she said, “then women can stand up and tell their stories. Women are stronger nowadays. I feel like women who have been victims of crime have powerful stories to tell and we have one of the strongest voices to protect our rights.”

The Lucas family moved and her fledgling grassroots organization went on something of a hiatus. But what rekindled her activism was a segment of “The View,” during which an advertisement supporting background checks was shown. This message was produced by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, and it depicts a woman on the telephone with police as her ex-husband kicks in the front door, grabs their son and then pulls a pistol out of his pocket and, of camera after the screen goes dramatically black, a shot is fired.

It was the reaction of three of the four female panelists that got Lucas’ attention. All three suggested that the video actually makes a case for owning a gun.

Lucas thinks the philosophy and message of her organization “needs to go nationwide.” The gun control battle is waged largely on an emotional level, she acknowledged, but there are two sides to the argument, with plenty of emotion on the side of victims who have armed themselves.

“We want to help people learn to testify,” she explained. “There’s a way to share…You want to help people aim and shoot and tell their stories to win hearts and minds. There is strength in numbers.”

But it takes someone like Rachel Lucas to inspire people, which she had been doing rather well in Oregon. That’s why she is being recognized as our Gun Rights Defender of the Month.