Commentary: How a reasonable person became a pro-gun zealot

Janalee Tobias Tribune Cover

Many people have written letters wanting to know the answer to Ron Molen’s recent op-ed piece, “How do reasonable people become gun zealots?”

I was a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom with a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University when I became a gun zealot.

I didn’t propose a Green New Deal, but I did help propose new pro-gun laws to the Utah Legislature and in Washington, D.C.

Although I was raised in small town Idaho, guns were considered mostly a “guy” thing. My dad was a World War II veteran who put his guns away after the war. My brothers liked to hunt.

It was a common sight to see guys driving around in their trucks with rifles being held in place with “gun racks” in the back windows. Even at my high school, it was common for the boys to take their coaches and teachers out to their pickups to show them their firearms during lunch hour and even drive to a vacant potato field near the Snake River and do some target shooting.

The first time I shot a gun was in the spring of 1983. My college roommates and I were cruising Main Street when a pickup truck full of local boys invited us to go shoot some tin cans at the sand dunes. Without even thinking twice about jumping in a vehicle with strangers with guns, we drove to the sand dunes and had a great time shooting targets.

Ten years later, I was married with two young daughters. Gun control was the number one political issue in Utah and in the nation. On a local, state and national stage, female ringleaders like Sarah Brady, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi were claiming that passing more gun laws would protect us and keep our children safe. I believed them. I was going to join with them.

But first, I decided to do research on my own. The first statistic I found was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI report of 1991 showed that the states and district with the most amount of restrictions against firearms ownership had the highest murder rates. For example: In a population of 100,000, Idaho had a murder rate of 1.8. The District of Columbia had a murder rate of 80.6.

Study after study from unbiased research companies showed that increasing gun laws did not decrease crime. In fact, studies showed that during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the shop owners who had firearms were able to protect their businesses from being looted.

One overlooked statistic is that most shootings take place in gun-free zones.

Since research proves that gun control does not control crime, I guess you could say, Ron Molen, that I have become a “gun zealot.” Just like you have become an “anti-gun zealot.” And I respect your courage for your convictions in pro-gun Utah.

Since The Salt Lake Tribune featured me on the front cover in a pink dress at a shooting range 25 years ago, my life was forever altered because reporters, talk show hosts, women, students and people from all walks of life have interviewed me for my opinions on why I’m a pro-gun mom volunteering my time to speak out against gun control.

I plead for society to discuss the root causes of crime. I have made the offer on television and in news publications for anti-gun zealots to sit down with pro-gun zealots and talk about ways to control crime. I’m still waiting for this to happen.

Janalee Tobias

Janalee Tobias, South Jordan, is the founder of Women Against Gun Control, one of the oldest female gun rights organizations in the world. She volunteers her time fighting for causes that she believes reduces crime.