The sounds of gunfire ringing through her Southeast D.C. neighborhood had always kept Neta Vaught away from firearms. To her, guns symbolized the violence that the mother of three worked so hard to shield her family from — the violence that has Vaught regularly coming across dead bodies and kept her from giving her two teenagers the childhood she wanted. But after witnessing the national temperature rise over the past few months, between the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing protests against police brutality, Vaught felt she needed to reconsider her self-defense options. She decided it was time to beat her fear of firearms, get training and purchase her first gun.
“As a single mom, I don’t feel as protected anymore, and I want to be able to protect my children,” Vaught said. She wondered whether the police would still be able to help her during an emergency after a mid-June police union poll found that nearly 75% of D.C.’s police force would consider resigning in light of proposed cuts to the department. Meanwhile, homicides are up 15% from this time last year. She signed up for a course on using a pistol with D.C.-based Barnes 1st Step Firearms Training, hoping to shake her fear of guns by learning about them. [full