A gun-owning military veteran explains why she supports more gun control laws

Amanda Blount, 50, has been shooting guns since she was 6 years old, and served in the Army and in the Tennessee National Guard.

And, she says, it’s time for new regulations on guns.

“Since I was born, in the ‘60s, I’ve watched safety regulations change for cars, planes, car seats and even bike helmets, yet regulations on guns have mostly stayed the same,” said in an emailed message on Wednesday.

Blount pictured in 1988, receiving an award for a competition that included shooting skills.Amanda Blount

“Look, I know plenty of people who have survived their whole life with no problems from other gun owners, but that’s not the point. Our fellow citizens are suffering,” she said.

“I plead with fellow gun owners, as responsible gun owners and responsible Americans; it’s our duty to help our fellow citizens feel safe around us. ... We must be the voice of reason.”

Just a day after Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas — the deadliest in modern American history — Blount tweeted out a call to action for gun regulations, saying, “the insanity must stop.”

However, she hasn’t always felt that increased regulations were necessary: Blount was raised in the small, rural North Carolina town of Mackeys.

Her family grew tobacco and peanuts, and her father worked as a commercial fisherman during the offseason. For Blount, guns were a part of life. The first day of hunting season was “almost a religious holiday,” she said.

Her father taught her to shoot when she was just 6 years old, Blount said, and she’s owned her own gun since she was 9.

She joined the Army in 1986 and served for 10 years, then joined the Tennessee National Guard in 2003, many of those years on active duty. She retired in 2014.

Blount pictured during her deployment to Iraq, May, 2011.Amanda Blount

Her entire career, she said, involved working with and around weapons and ammunition, and she still considers herself an “expert shot” and enjoys shooting for sport.

Yet over the years, she said she began to realize the need for more regulations. “I’ve not always felt the way I do now. I don’t think one individual incident changed my mind. It’s been a series of events which brought me to where I am now,” Blount said.

“Over the years, I’ve watched as parents lose their children. I’ve watched as elementary schools, colleges, theaters, concerts and even churches have become killing grounds for madmen determined on murdering innocent people. ... Due to these events, I’ve matured in my thinking about gun regulations, and gun regulations should mature too.”

Blount, left, in uniform in 2010 and right, dressed in civilian clothes in 2014.Amanda Blount

Not acting, Blount said, would just “allow more people to be killed.” The laws she grew up with, she said, need to evolve.

“When I was little, not only did I not have a car seat on trips, but I used to stand up in the front seat between my parents, or play in the hatchback of our car. On top of this, we didn’t have seat belts or airbags,” Blount said.

“The laws didn’t change because I, and others, survived the lack of restraints, but because many children died. Imagine today if I suggested we get rid of car seat laws based on the fact my sisters and I survived childhood without them.”

“Over the years, I’ve watched as parents lose their children. I’ve watched as elementary schools, colleges, theaters, concerts and even churches have become killing grounds for madmen determined on murdering innocent people.”

Some of the new regulations Blount said she’d like to see — as a gun owner who takes pride in the traditions of hunting and sport shooting she grew up with — are mandatory background checks, an age requirement for gun registration and mandatory gun safety courses.

Blount pictured in 1988, shooting an anti-aircraft weapon using training ammunition.Amanda Blount

And, she said, the time for politicians to talk about gun regulation is now. “I’m not expecting you to talk about Las Vegas today or even this week, but we’ve got hundreds of other incidents we can talk about right here, right now. So, let’s talk. Let’s talk right now about all the mass shootings which occurred since the 1980s or since the 1990s, or just this decade. Pick one and let’s talk.”

“As gun owners, we need to understand responsible gun ownership is coming together for the common good of everyone, not just gun owners. Responsible gun ownership is creating common sense laws.”