Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts countered that fear, paranoia, and white privilege, not neo-Nazis, are why conservative columnist Bethany S. Mandel purchased a firearm.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Mandel explained how her upbringing and being a mother herself led her to become a gun owner.
As a young child, one night after her father left her family, her mother warded off a would-be intruder, who climbed up a ladder to her open bedroom window, with a shotgun.
“While it may seem counterintuitive to those who didn’t grow up around guns, in our house we saw them as tools of protection and empowerment for two women living alone,” she wrote.
Mandel thought about purchasing a gun for a few years after she became a mother, but it wasn’t until she criticized President Donald Trump during the presidential primary that she submitted the paperwork.
In the op-ed, she revealed the Anti-Defamation League named her one of the top 10 Jewish journalists to be attacked by the so-called “alt-right,” and her address was published by the Daily Stormer.
“I was given a reason to feel that I needed to defend myself and my family. And I acted on it,” Mandel wrote.
As a New Jersey resident, she had to get letters attesting to her character, be fingerprinted, and submit to background checks. In light of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, she acknowledged that gun owners, if they believe people are the problem, need to evaluate how bad guys can stop getting guns.
On the other side of the argument, she said gun control activists have to “confront the lie” that gun rights supporters care more about guns than children.
“For many, support for gun rights is motivated precisely by our devotion to protecting our kids,” she wrote.
In response, Watts tweeted that her reason for purchasing a firearm was based on “anecdotes of fear and paranoia” instead of gun safety data. She added that the op-ed was written by a white woman but that The New York Times used a woman of color for the featured image.
Interesting that the New York Times paired this op-ed by a white woman based on her anecdotes of fear and paranoia – instead of actual gun safety data – with a photo of a woman of color… https://t.co/gDayS7DcsX
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 5, 2018
Mandel countered that the Daily Stormer put a “target literally” on her back and that police continue to drive by her house, so her fears weren’t founded on being “tinfoil hat” paranoia:
Hi Shannon – my address was published by the Daily Stormer with a target literally put on my back. My local police department still drive by my house several times a day. Not exactly tinfoil hat paranoid over here.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) March 6, 2018
She added that she wasn’t even sure why race was relevant in the discussion, which Watts responded with the explanation that her being white makes her feel safer with one:
Because your privilege in feeling that a gun will make you safer is in part because you are white. CDC data actually shows the opposite about gun ownership.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 6, 2018
Watts stated in a subsequent tweet that a major problem in America is that people want to make gun laws based on emotion and not data.