By Beth Walker
Not matched or equaled.
An unmatched victim is what Amanda Collins refers to herself when describing the scenario of her rape during her fourth year of college at the University of Nevada Reno. Collins is the picture of a woman who has overcome. She is now married, the mother to three young girls, an advocate for the Second Amendment, and educates about psychological effects on individuals and their families after assault.
Collins grew up in a home where safety was paramount. Her interest in firearms was sparked when she witnessed her father cleaning his gun at his workbench while seeking him out to tuck her into bed at the age of three. Her father sat her on the workbench and began her firearms education that moment with these words, “No gun is ever a toy. You don't point it at anything you don't intend to shoot. Daddy uses this rifle to hunt to get meat for the family, and if someone was to try to do our family harm I could use this to defend the family.” All of this led to her frequent target practice (she still has the target from her first time shooting at the age of 6) and later, her involvement with her High School rifle team.
Campus carry laws are a widely controversial topic in the world today, but stories like that of Amanda make us realize the necessity of the right to keep and bear arms. One of the most horrifying parts of her story is the fact that she was raped at gunpoint less than 50 feet from the campus police office. She was the holder of a concealed carry permit, but because of the law that had been put in place, she was denied her Constitutional right to defend herself. Collins’s rapist now sits on death row in Nevada. He raped two additional victims and murdered his third known victim. She claims that she knew if she had her firearm, there was a point in her attack where she would have been able to stop it. Amanda says, “In short, I am a living testimony that gun ‘safety’ laws only affect the law-abiding by making us more vulnerable.”
As a part of the D.C. Project, a nonpartisan effort of roughly one woman from each state who meet with our legislators in the Capitol each summer to speak with them regarding Second Amendment education, Collins understands the importance of the fight that she is involved in. Her thoughts are that as emotionally charged as both the left and the right are on this issue, it is imperative to have a bipartisan group who can go to our legislators and are willing to have a conversation to improve things. One of her favorite things about being part of this group is that they don’t request legislation from the members of Congress, they are there to educate and allow a change in the stereotypical face of the American gun owner.
Amanda has many pieces of advice that she could offer to friends, legislators, and even strangers; but the most prominent is “Education, Education, Education. Educate yourself on current events pertaining to the Second Amendment. Know the history of the Second Amendment. Continue to educate yourself with skills. Educate yourself on the other point of view and be willing to humbly educate others on your convictions.”
Being a mother to three young girls has made Collins determined to continue the legacy that her father started with firearms safety. Due to Amanda’s long interest with firearms and the tragedy she has lived through, she wants her daughters to be able to choose how they will defend themselves when they head off to college. For a long time, her focus was based on getting campus carry passed. Now, it has slightly shifted to educating our society about the effects that rape has on both the individual and their family. She said that after arguing for the solution to the lack of self-defense, the focus needs to be shifted back to why men and women need to be able to defend themselves from crimes of this nature. Her closing statement on the issue was simply this, “Hopefully when there is a culture shift in how rape is viewed we, as a collective society, will attempt to do EVERYTHING we can to prevent rape from happening.”
Amanda’s story is a perfect example of how easily the stripping away of our essential liberties can cause a catastrophe. Opening a dialogue with people about facts on topics ranging from the Second Amendment to the mental and emotional effects of sexual assault will be the defining factor in the fight for the continuation of American independence. This fight is no longer one that is divided by the party that you align with but a struggle between freedom and tyranny.