by Alissa Lopez

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and The Heritage Foundation hosted Amanda Collins, founding director of T.E.A.R.S. Speak (Teaching/Empowering Assault and Rape Survivors), at its Conservative Women's Network luncheon on September 22. Amanda opened up to the audience about her own personal experience that drove her to advocate for women's self-defense rights.

Amanda began her speech by sharing with the audience that she is a survivor of a violent crime. While a college student at the University of Nevada, Reno, she was brutally raped at gun point one night while walking to her car after class. Amanda shared with the crowd, "eight minutes. That's all it took for a complete stranger to drastically change the course of my life."

Although she had her concealed carry permit, the University of Nevada is a gun-free zone. Therefore as any law-abiding citizen would do, she left her gun at home. Her "right to say no to [her] rapist was not only taken by him, but by the school that said [she] couldn't carry a gun."

Amanda believes that if she had her firearm that night, she would have been able to stop her attacker. She stated, "I wanted to challenge the notion that gun free zones are safety zones because they are not effective in ensuring public safety."

She went on to emphasize that rape is a very serious issue that must be tackled, stating that, "there is an acceptance that women get raped that stems from a lack of understanding of what rape is and the effect it has on its survivors."

Universities are teaching women that the way to prevent rape is to somehow make themselves less desirable to their attacker. They encourage women to urinate themselves, vomit, cry or tell their attacker they have an STD. Rape victims are sometimes questioned, scrutinized and judged. And most of the crimes are left unreported.

Amanda Collins has three young girls, and she expressed that, "I want my daughters to become women in a culture where persevering their dignity is treated as a right and not a privilege."

She shared that during her advocacy work she has witnessed little to no change in terms of legislation that would allow women to choose how to protect their bodies. She said that she has "been exposed to the heart behind why women continue to be the ultimate minority in the world." So she continues to advocate "for women to at least have the option" even though she realizes that "carrying a gun is not for everyone."

Alissa is a CBLPI intern.

Amanda Collins with CBLPI interns Alissa Lopez and Elisa Seegmiller

L-R: CBLPI Interns Alissa Lopez and Elisa Seegmiller with Amanda Collins