Meet Dianna Muller. She was a police officer in Tulsa, Okla., for 22 years, and now she is a professional 3-Gun shooter and a member of the NRA. In September, Ms. Muller won the NRA's World Shooting Championship in Glengary, West Virginia.
The Monitor's Story Hinckley recently interviewed Muller. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What's the biggest misconception that people have about you – as a gun owner and a member of the NRA?
The biggest misconception is that I, as a gun owner, am somehow the bad guy…. Gun owners are like non-gun owners. We care about others. Our hearts break when we see evil people inflict harm on our kids, citizens, and our country.
I've been to many NRA annual meetings that have hosted 70,000 to 80,000 people under one roof, with hundreds of thousands of guns in the same place and nobody gets shot. We are good people who respect life and teach our children responsibility for not only firearms, but for life.
Q: What does the Second Amendment mean to you?
I believe the men who founded this country were extremely wise and knew firsthand from their experience with the British how a government can get out of control. I think it's the Second Amendment for a reason: it's really important! And although I am a professional shooter and hunter, I don't believe the Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment to protect hunting – they included it to protect our individual freedoms and liberty from a tyrannical government.
As far as what guns mean to me: as a police officer, they were a tool of the trade. As a hunter, they are a tool of the trade. As an independent woman who goes places by myself, it's a tool of the trade! As a sport, it's a tool of the trade. But most importantly, handling firearms teaches you so many things: responsibility, awareness, respect, consequences, focus. Contrary to the secular world today, it teaches discipline. The shooting sports aspect teaches sportsmanship.
In the sport of 3-Gun we have kids as young as 10 safely participating. That's a lot of responsibility. Shooting sports are also something that the whole family can compete in at the same time! No sitting on the soccer sidelines! The kids I have seen grown up in the shooting sports are top notch in the human department.
Q: Why not have a stronger background check system? From my conversations, it seems like gun owners are frustrated that convicts, terrorists, and bad guns could infringe on good guys' right to own guns. It seems like a stronger background check system could help the good guys keep their guns.
As a police officer of 22 years, I was often frustrated by prosecutors negotiating or reducing charges for the sake of ease. We have enough gun laws on the books, we don't need more. We need more prosecution of the existing gun laws. We are not enforcing them.
Additionally, like many other Americans, I am concerned that expanded background checks will lead to a gun registry. Over the past several years I have noticed a disturbing trend in Washington. I've seen high-level officials at the IRS abuse their position… I don't trust the government with that information. To not use that information down the road, to flip that switch. As soon as they get that information, that piece of the puzzle, they own us. With the flick of a pen and executive order, the government could say, “Dianna Muller has 10 guns, and until she turns these 10 guns in, she is a criminal.”
So, the bottom line for a lot of people is that they don't trust the government to have an exhaustive list of guns and gun owners. The countries that I'm aware of that banned guns – Cambodia, China, Nazi Germany – started with a registry.
Q: Assault rifle ban. Why does any American need an assault rifle? Wouldn't banning them be a common sense measure?
Because many Americans don't have experience with firearms, they don't understand what an AR-15 is. The AR-15 is the most popular rifle platform, with about 5 million Americans owning them. AR stands for Armalite Rifle, the first manufacturer of the platform, not assault rifle. There is no such thing as an assault weapon. That is a term invented by gun control activists who wanted to make them sound scary to people who didn't know a lot about firearms. Many of those same gun control activists believe so-called assault weapons like the AR-15 are fully automatic firearms. They are not. They are semi-automatic.
Fully automatic firearms are regulated by the National Firearms Act and are subject to very strict laws on who can purchase them.... They have the same functionality of other semi-automatic pistols and shotguns. According to Department of Justice statistics, they are used in less than 2 percent of crimes. I would argue that a mass shooter could be more discreet and deliver the same carnage with a handgun.
Q: The idea that good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns – it doesn't seem like this has ever happened with a US mass shooting, correct? (Not that it couldn't happen in the future.) But can you defend this argument?
An armadillo: he has a defense system. Every animal does. Humans can use our brains. And we can use guns as a defense, not an offensive. It's the ultimate defense - it levels the playing field. If a 300-pound man came out me, I would have a chance.
Kristi McMains is a lawyer and was violently attacked in January of this year walking to her car after work. She fought for three minutes to get to her gun and shoot the suspect… My goal is to educate as many Americans as possible on how to effectively protect themselves and their families, especially in today's climate of lone-wolf attacks.
Good guys with guns do make a difference. As George Washington said in his first annual address to Congress, "A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined..."