Many people would assume that an instructor for a concealed carry class would be ex-military or law enforcement, and lots of them are. There is an instructor here in Trumbull County, however, who doesn't fit that mold.
I recently took my concealed carry class at Eagle Creek Conservation Club from Pam Karousis. Pam's other job is nail tech; she owns Nail Designs in Cortland.
So how did a nail tech end up becoming a shooting instructor?
Pam shared her story with those of us who took her class.
She had been shopping at JC Penney's at the Eastwood Mall. Her car had been parked close to the store, first car in the row, driver's side window facing the big glass window. Pam went out to her car, looked around carefully, unlocked her doors, and threw her package and purse on the passenger side seat as she got in. As she went to close the door it was flung open, and a guy was in her face, yelling, ''Give me your purse!''
She leaned away from him way over to the passenger seat, knocking her purse down. She screamed, hoping someone would come. No one heard her screams or if they did, they ignored them. She reached around the man and began honking the horn.
Someone finally came out of Penney's, and the two guys left. Pam went back into Penney's and had them call security. It took what seemed to her as too much time for mall security to arrive and even longer for the Niles police to arrive.
After the incident, Pam changed. She became afraid to go anywhere and began to have nightmares. A friend suggested that she take a self-defense class.
When she went to the class, Pam realized that they would be shooting guns and almost left. She was convinced to stay and try it. She ended up falling in love with target shooting, took the class several times and eventually became an NRA-certified instructor.
Some, these days, believe that the Second Amendment is about law enforcement or the military or hunting or target shooting. Pam's story demonstrates what the real purpose of the Second Amendment is: self-defense. Our founders recognized this as a natural right given by God.
''A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people, to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.''
I think, sometimes, people see the phrase, ''well regulated militia'' and make the assumption that the Second Amendment is about the military. At the time of the writing of the Constitution, the militia was not a standing army, it was referring simply to all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 who would be expected to defend their communities from whatever threatened them including, in the Revolutionary War, a tyrannical government. The militia was really an extension of self-defense applied to a community. Also, note that this is enumerated as a ''right'' of the people
The right to bear arms for self-defense has its roots in English Common Law. It was first written down in the English Bill of Rights in 1689. James II had disarmed the Protestants and the English Bill of Rights reestablished that right.
Remember the founders had just fought Revolution to secure their natural rights from an English monarch who had also tried to deprive them of their arms. They realized that the threat of an armed populace was a check on government. They recognized the natural right to life as well as the right to protect one's life and property. That protection requires arms.
Charlton Heston, in a speech to the National Press Club in 1997 said the following: ''I say that the Second Amendment is, in order of importance, the first amendment. It is America's first freedom, the one right that protects all the others. Among freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly, of redress of grievances, it is the first among equals. It alone offers the absolute capacity to live without fear. The right to keep and bear arms is the one right that allows 'rights' to exist at all.''
The right to self-defense and the means to secure that defense are foundational to all other rights. That was true when King James II disarmed the Protestants. It was true when the English Bill of Rights was written. It was true on April 19, 1775, when the first shot was fired at Lexington and Concord. It was true when our nation was born July 4, 1776. Over two centuries later, that right to self-defense is not archaic or outdated. It remains foundational.
If we wish to keep all other rights, we must not allow that basic right, ''America's first Freedom,'' to be infringed.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.