Note: I originally wrote this book review for Freedom Forge Press, a publisher celebrating freedoms of all kinds. The review is reprinted here with permission.
Emily Miller is a journalist and a resident of Washington, D.C. When she found herself defenseless as criminals broke into a friend’s home, she decided to go through the red tape required to purchase and possess a legal firearm in Washington, D.C. This book is her nonfiction account of her journey (of several months) to navigate the red-tape aimed at making legal handgun possession too difficult for most people to achieve.
The narrative is told in alternating chapters, with Miller interspersing her personal journey for firearm possession with the recent incidents involving politicians and the media, many of which seem to be aimed at grabbing the guns of law-abiding Americans. Her style is easy to understand—it’s almost as if she’s sitting down with you for a chat. The speeches, laws, and documents she cites are extensively documented, so it’s easy to do further research on any of the points she makes.
Her personal journey to legally register a gun is frustrating, to say the least. She had to spend hundreds of dollars in fees (not counting the purchase of the actual gun), take time off work, navigate officials ignorant of the actual laws and regulations, and jump through many hoops—when in the very same city, criminals and non-criminals alike refuse to register their guns. She proves, once again, that only the law-abiding citizens are being punished by strict gun-control measures.
And yet the focus of the book isn’t just about guns. The last paragraph of her book summarizes her primary purpose in writing the book. While it’s a book about her fight for personal gun rights, she notes, “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” Before experiencing the frightening break-in at her friend’s house, Miller had never shot or even held a gun before. Her motive throughout the book is emphasized as wanting to help law-abiding citizens secure the same rights that criminals seem to have—the ability to carry a firearm. She notes how anti-gun legislation doesn’t make anyone safer; it simply removes freedoms.
Throughout the book, she also explains how many of the politicians and “anti-gun” advocates seem to know little, if anything, about guns. For instance, many anti-gun lobbyists seem to believe that Americans can still purchase automatic weapons (think: Rambo). She reminds the reader that the most “dangerous” weapons Americans can possess are semi-automatic, meaning one trigger pull equals one bullet. She also points out that many gun laws seem arbitrary. For instance, when legislation was recently passed in New York, politicians mandated that residents could possess magazines able to hold no more than seven bullets. Had they done their research, they would have seen that seven-bullet magazines generally don’t exist for most calibers. The law was amended to allow residents to possess magazines that hold ten rounds, but only fill them with up to seven bullets. As she points out—a criminal will not abide by the law and will (a) secure even higher-capacity magazines by any means possible and (b) will not think twice about placing more than seven bullets in the magazine.
This point, that laws restricting gun rights only hurt law-abiding citizens, is proven time and again in this book.
She mentions also the arbitrary nature of some of the “assault weapons” legislation aimed at limiting the types of weapons people may purchase. The gun she chose to purchase, for instance, was allowed in the District of Columbia in all black, or in black with a silver accent. But the same exact model was not allowed in the “Scorpion” version, the only difference being cosmetic—the “outlawed” version is earth-toned tan. The same is true for rifles. Many assault weapons are banned simply for having one or more cosmetic features. The type of grip, for instance, could make one gun outlawed but another, of the same exact caliber and functionality, would be legal. Adjustable stocks are also a big “no no” when it comes to legal. It’s ironic that an adjustable stock simply makes it easier for a smaller person—such as a female—to comfortably hold the gun. Things like adjustable stocks and variable grip positions do not give criminals any advantage. Rather, they help disadvantaged people—like small women—hold the gun more safely and effectively in use against a criminal. Once again, the people creating the laws seem to have no practical knowledge of guns, or what specifically makes them dangerous.
As is proven many times in the book, none of the laws deter criminals from possessing or using guns. The point is—criminals are criminals. Murder and theft are already illegal. Criminals ignore those laws. Even police officers surveyed admit that gun bans and stricter gun laws will have little impact on criminals using guns. In fact, politicians usually ignore the most important points, which is that there already is a background system check in place for gun purchasers. The “gun show loophole” only actually allows an extremely small percentage of people to buy guns without a background check, and mental health checks—largely ignored, as states fail to upload important mental health data into the already-existent national background check—are the most important factor of keeping guns out of the hands of people who would most likely misuse them.
There’s also the argument that gun-free zones become like a playground for criminals. Knowing they won’t be confronted by any concealed-carrying citizens, criminals feel free to shoot as many people as they like without fearing the consequences. Just look at the crime rates in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Miller also makes the point that even though gun sales have skyrocketed lately (with the threat of gun bans), crime has been steadily decreasing. Increased gun ownership has not increased gun-related crime.
The examples go on and on. (Someone could write a book! Oh wait, someone has!)
Toward the end of the book, Miller cites examples of veterans arrested for arbitrary reasons—one for having three unregistered guns in the city, one for having several loose rounds in the bottom of a backpack (but no weapon). She tells how celebrities and people with political connections do not have to go through the same scrutiny. For both veterans, who were not committing any actual crimes, jail time, extensive legal fees, and undue stress was required before they were finally cleared of (most of) the charges.
Miller notes that she could easily move to Virginia, where gun laws are much more fair to law-abiding citizens, but she chooses not to: she wants to stay in Washington, D.C., and continue her fight for gun rights. She notes that, although she is allowed to keep her gun in her home, she is not allowed to carry it outside, even into the lobby of her apartment. Along her journey to become legally armed, she has met many people who have confided in her, and her goal continues to be helping others exercise their Second Amendment Rights without unnecessary restriction. She is truly a freedom fighter, and one worthy of two thumbs up from Freedom Forge Press.