Dear NRA,

Saturday morning I found myself staring across a field of grass, blinded by the early morning sun, and chilled by a crisp Wisconsin fall breeze. I watched as my 8 year-old nephew played football with a few dozen other children, their families filled the stands to cheer on the little ones they love. The kids smiled and giggled, and my nephew danced around on the field like the ham he is. The boys on the field pushed each other around while laughing, all of them far too young to understand what happened last week, too young to grasp the fact that an insane, depraved madman walked into a college and took the lives of innocent men and women. No, the children on the field are too innocent to face such horrors, to sit with hands ringing watching the news unfold. They’re all too wide-eyed and full of hope to know what happened in Sandy Hook, or to hear of the children who begged for their lives in Columbine. They’re too raw in nature to hear the gruesome details, or be privy to the idea that there are individuals in this world who, given the opportunity, would take their lives.

Saturday morning my nephew obliviously enjoyed his football game, but on Saturday morning I scanned the faces of all who entered the stands. I watched the fences, the cars, and the entrance and exit points to the field. I pondered what I would do to protect myself and my nephew if someone came with the intent to harm. Would it be better for him to run, for me to run, would they have the mercy to look in his bright eyes and end their hatred? Would they target the children, or target the parents in the stands, forever damaging the innocent minds watching? I scanned, I pondered, I feared. I feared for him, I feared for myself, and I sat in this uncomfortable chill wondering if the madman of my nightmares would bother to leave his gun neatly tucked away in a safe as I had done that very morning. I had run to the grocery store, returned home, and put my Bersa Thunder in the safe, neatly tucked away in my closet before taking my nephew for his football game in a gun-free zone.

While I know the stats and understand that crimes of such magnitude are not on the rise, and that technological advancements have just made us more aware, the news from last week was fresh in my mind. I also know that the gun-free zone I was sitting in with the most precious cargo was statistically more likely to be a target than the theater I took him to later that day, a theater that allows me to protect myself and the innocent lives in tow. I know that the odds of being involved in a mass shooting are low, but I also know that the families burying their loved ones this week never thought they would be on the side of the odds they’re on.

Later that evening I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that many were attacking you – and guns in general – for the Oregon shooting.  I found them blaming you for the actions of a maniac, apparently he would have stayed home and lived out a peaceful life if the NRA didn’t exist? They make it sound as though you put the gun in his hands and pushed him through the doors of that college. I heard a speech by the President, in which he insinuated that organizations like yourself are to blame. I watched journalist after journalist and commentator after commentator demand an apology from you – and from your members – ad nauseam. Their anger was not poured into the actions of a madman, but rather into the actions of the National Rifle Association.

“Therefore the NRA should take its rightful place on the State Department list of terrorist organizations, because its influence is more of an immediate threat to the lives of our citizens than foreign terrorists.”

Since you are under attack by the narrative driven politicians and the sycophants who march against people like me – people like my innocent nephew – I felt the need to speak out. I fear them, NRA. I fear what kind of influence they will have on the people of this nation, I fear the number of people who believe their blatant lies and hypocrisy. I fear for the lives of those who enter gun-free zones daily, for the woman that scans the dark parking lot to see if it’s safe to walk to her car, the couple who live in a high crime area who have been taught to fear protection, and I fear for the mothers and fathers who think a sign will keep their children safe.

The attacks on you are baseless, senseless, and beyond reproach. Since the attacks on the NRA are flooding social media, I would like to instead offer words of gratitude.

Thank you, NRA, for accepting me for who I am. I am a single woman in my 20s, and I’m a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter, I am not an avid shooter; in fact, I have never taken the life another warm blooded animal. My handgun is not concealed behind a camouflage shirt, but is instead under lace tops and fashion scarves. I’m normally not found in cargo pants and pro-gun shirts, but in maxi-skirts or heels. My weapon of choice is not an AR-15 (although it’s on my list), but is instead a seemingly feminine gun that fits in a bra holster. I don’t sit in tree stands, I prefer coffee shops. I don’t have a large gun cabinet, I have bookshelves from one end of my house to the other. I am not the picture they try to paint of the average Second Amendment enthusiast, but I am a strong woman who refuses to be held back by fear. I do not own my weapon because it is considered “bad a**” or “edgy.” I own my weapon because 84,376 forcible rapes were reported in 2012, I carry because bad people will always exist, I’m armed because as an average female I am weaker than the vast majority of men, and I deserve an equalizer.

While I claim the title of “feminist” (due to the beliefs of the original feminists), today’s feminists have refused to allow me use of the title because I am an individual thinker, because I respect life, and because I don’t uphold their militantly aligned ideologies. You and your members have embraced me, taught me, and encouraged me to protect myself. The policies and principles you support have told me that I am worthy of the strongest form of protection, not the weak and demeaning forms the left have thrown in my direction as though they believe I am a disposable being, an item; potentially an unfortunate piece of collateral damage leading to the greater good. But I am more than that, and that is why I support the NRA.

Thank you, NRA, for fighting against the ideologies of those who are content to leave my innocent nephew in danger. The same ideologies that leave countless innocent individuals without the ability to protect themselves daily, and the same ideologies that aided a madman by creating a safe zone for him to take the lives of 9 beautiful, adored human beings. The truly evil in this world seek the freedom to bring death without a form of resistance that matches their power, thank you for fighting against the safe zones they all too often find.

Thank you for not supporting politicians who exploit the dead for their own narrative, those who propose gun restrictions that would do nothing to stop the murderers who prey on the unprotected, but instead help those with an evil disposition find easier targets. They dance on the graves, and play on the heartstrings of those in mourning, just to push legislation that would not have changed a moment of the attacks their agendas propagate. Thank you for supporting the fight against such unmitigated manipulators and liars.

Thank you for fighting not only for your members, but for the millions of gun owners who choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights daily.

Thank you for protecting the rights of women – more so than any politician ever has. Countless women use their firearm to thwart rape everyday (some studies cite hundreds, others say thousands), how many rapes have been halted by the ballpoint pens or parking lot phones advertised by anti-gun extremists? Surveyed rapists have said that just being shown a weapon, or knowing a woman was carrying, stopped her from being their victim. You, NRA, have fought harder on behalf of women than any “feminist” advocate.

Thank you for standing with the law abiding citizens in this country, and not the criminals; a stance even our President has abandoned.

Thank you for supporting gun safety programs for children, teaching future generations to properly handle weapons with a healthy fear of their power.

Thank you for giving a voice to the average, everyday citizens who are not blessed with body guards and security details. Celebrities yell uneducated ramblings from their ivory towers while women around this country are scared to take an evening walk by themselves. They become the loudest keyboard warriors while they sit in their plush homes guarded by a security system, meanwhile the nurse walking home alone after an evening shift will watch the shadows and pray she’s not a target. Their children will be homeschooled or learn under the watchful eye of a heavily guarded private school, meanwhile the rest of the kids in this country will walk halls as sitting ducks, their safety dependent upon the average emergency response time. Anti-gun celebrities do not speak for us.

NRA, if there was ever a time when you were needed the most, that time is now. While you are attacked by the vitriolic masses and their games of blame shifting, I need you to continue fighting for our safety.

I need you.

My nephew needs you.

Women need you.

Innocent children walking school halls need you.

Average citizens need you.

Those who oppose you, need you.

You and your members, as well as countless gun owners throughout this beautiful nation, make our country safer.