The ebullient Emily Miller has become a champion for gun rights in recent years. Though, it wasn’t by design that she jumped into the fray, but by happenstance. After being the victim of a home invasion while dog sitting at a friend’s house, she felt for the first time in her life that being pro-Second Amendment in theory wasn’t quite good enough. She had to do it in practice. She had to take responsibility for her own safety. She had to exercise her Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
So began her journey through the tangled web of bureaucratic nonsense that it is the Washington, D.C. legal system. As Miller explains in her new book, “Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours”, obtaining a firearm in our nation’s capital is a long and complicated process that functions to discourage gun ownership amongst the law-abiding.
Miller, the senior Opinion Editor at the Washington Times, not only endured that arduous process, she documented it in an eye-opening exposé in 2011, which earned her the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism. Her series in the Washington Times became the foundational text for her book, which takes a more in-depth look at D.C.’s convoluted firearm registration process, her journey into the gun community and the ongoing national debate over gun control.
Guns.com had a chance to correspond with Miller about her book. Below is our Q&A:
S.H. Blannelberry: The standard Guns.com question: what’s your favorite gun? I’m assuming it’s your SIG?
Miller: I only have one gun – the one you see on the cover of my book. It’s a SIG Sauer P229 in 9mm. Since it took me four months and $435 in fees to go through the 17 steps it takes to register a legal firearm in D.C., I haven’t had the will to go through all that again.
Since I wrote my series in The Washington Times exposing the city’s outrageous regulations to deter gun ownership, the city council changed the law to make it slightly easier to get a gun. Now it’s 11 steps.
Meanwhile, across the bridge in Virginia, it’s one step — just go to the store and pass a FBI background check, state check, pay and walk out with your gun. It’s a stark contrast in how the Second Amendment is respected in different parts of the United States.
Washington has no carry rights at all. No one is allowed to take a gun outside the home. So, only the criminals and the police are armed on the streets. But, I’d like to get a concealed carry permit from another state to use when I travel. Then I’ll probably go through the registration process again to get a smaller firearm.
I’ve also been trying to get better at clay shooting. If I improve enough, then I’d like to buy a shotgun.
SHB: How often do you get to the gun range?
Miller: There are no ranges in D.C. I usually go to Sharpshooter’s Small Arms Range in Lorton, Virginia, about every couple months to train.
SHB: In your book you talk about the burglars who entered your friend’s house while you were dog sitting. You were unarmed and alone during the encounter. Had you been armed in that situation, have you given thought to what you might have done differently?
Miller: No, the robbery ended without me getting physically harmed, so there was no reason to have pulled a gun in the situation. The robber had about 15 buddies with two pickup trucks down the street, so I was just lucky they didn’t attack me.
That was the first time in my life that I thought that if the situation had been violent, the only way I could have had a chance at defending myself against all those men was if I had a gun.
Now that I’m a gun owner, I’m never afraid of someone breaking in and being helpless.
SHB: Can gun-rights advocates really argue that there is a causal link between gun ownership and crime rates, i.e. more guns equals less crime?
While there is certainly a negative correlation between gun ownership, the expansion of concealed carry rights, self-defense laws and crime (all crime, property crime, violent crime and the homicide rate) there are a lot of variables that impact crime rates. To single out any one factor (poverty rate, broken windows theory, the Roe v. Wade theory, gun ownership, gang activity, the role of drugs and alcohol, etc.) as having a significant impact on crime rates seems to be a risky proposition that is quite difficult to empirically prove. Your take?
Miller: That’s true that no study has proven that more gun ownership leads to less crime. However, as I explain in my book, we know for fact three things that makes it seem likely.
First, not a single gun-control law has ever reduced crime. The Centers for Disease Control’s two year study of all kinds of gun-control laws concluded that there is “insufficient evidence” to show the “effectiveness of any of the firearms laws…. on violent outcomes.” A more recent Harvard study said largely the same thing.
Second, as gun ownership has gone up to its highest rates ever (47 percent of households according to Gallup), gun crime has decreased steadily for 20 years. According to the most recent FBI statistics, the rate of gun homicides has decreased 50 percent in 20 years and non-fatal shootings are down 70 percent.
Finally, we have seen a staggering increase of concealed carry permit holders in the United States in recent years — over 8 million people now. At the same time, violent crime has fallen and gun crime has fallen.
So while there is no hard proof that higher rates of gun ownership creates a deterrent which leads to less crime, those three facts seem to suggest it. Plus, it is just common sense. A criminal is just less likely to attack someone who might be armed.
SHB: When I mention your name to other male gun owners, two things inevitably pop up. First, your journalistic pedigree, which the vast majority of guys I talk to believe is outstanding. Second, your looks. Most guys think you’re quite attractive. I’m wondering whether you find this latter compliment flattering or annoying or irrelevant, etc?
Miller: You made me laugh! I sure didn’t see that question coming after the last one. I’m confident in my intelligence and knowledge so I’m flattered. What girl doesn’t appreciate a compliment?