One of my favorite left-tweaking, conservative-libertarian, micro-aggressive t-shirts has the image of a rifle built of patriotic words and phrases, including excerpts from the Second Amendment: “shall not be infringed.” Below the image is the stand-alone phrase “Guns Matter.” I bought the shirt at the OpsLens.com store. OpsLens’ merchandising partners, American Trigger Pullers, an awesome vet-owned company, makes some of the best and most delightfully irreverent shirts I’ve seen.
Some people ask me why I would wear “a shirt like that” and why I think guns matter. I explain guns matter because I carried one, which helped keep me alive and the public safe for a couple decades. That gun mattered to my family, too. You know, since they kind of liked me coming home after work.
Well, guns don’t matter only to cops; guns matter to average Americans, too. I heard a story earlier this year where a young woman, 24-year-old Aubrey Bowlin, got sucked into a road rage incident. She was riding her motorcycle home from work late one rainy afternoon, southbound on I-5 in Fife, Washington, near Tacoma, when an angry driver attacked her.
In heavy commuter traffic a driver, later identified as Bruce Jones, was driving within a few feet behind her bike. I commuted to my precinct on a Harley for 17 of my 22 years. I know exactly what that feels like. He’s protected in a rolling cage. On a bike, you’re exposed and being threatened by a ton of jerks on your ass. It’s meant to be intimidating.
The young woman said she gestured, waving her arm behind her to have the driver back off. I’ve done this several times. Normally, the drivers get the message, realize they’re too close, and they pull back. Here, rather than back off, the driver became more aggressive.
Bowlin recalled for Dori Monson of KIRO Radio 710, “The one time I leave a little too much space for the car in front of me, he then proceeds to go onto the shoulder and try to ram me with his car on the passenger side of his car, on the left side of my bike and with my left leg, into the cars…to the right of us, which would be considered the fast lane.”
Jones repeated this dangerous maneuver two times, obviously trying to ram her. She said she glimpsed Jones’ wife in the front passenger seat. She said she appeared shocked at what was happening. Then, when traffic slowed again, Bowlin had to stop. This is when she noticed Jones had gotten out of her car and was striding toward her. Not expecting anything good, Bowlin dismounted, leaned her bike on its kickstand, and prepared to defend herself. She noted the 60-year-old man was much larger than her.
Bowlin said Jones first slammed into her chest with his body. She responded with a headbutt which knocked Jones into the guardrail. She said Jones then increased his attack. He grabbed her; she tried to get away, but he held on. Then he tried to remove her helmet. As he tried to wrench it from her head, she said she felt like a toy in a dog’s mouth, the way he was shaking her by her head. She believed he wanted to remove her helmet so he could cause more injury.
Bowlin said Jones then pinned her with his body and kept pulling at her helmet. She said her helmet’s chin strap was strangling her, and she felt herself slipping in and out of consciousness. It occurred to her that Jones “was going to choke her to death.” She feels if Jones had gotten her helmet off he would have killed her. He might still have even with it on.
Proving you never know what you’ll do in a life-and-death struggle, rather than think of it immediately, she remembered only then that she had her gun with her. She said, “It was me or him. And I was coming home.”
The young motorcyclist pulled out her gun and fired, striking Jones in the abdomen. Obviously, I’m not exactly enamored with Jones’ behavior, brutally attacking a young woman who was simply trying to get home from work. So, I must confess to a sense of satisfaction when I think of what must have been going through that bully’s mind when he heard that bang and then felt that strange sensation in his belly and that wooziness in his head, telling him the circumstances had just changed dramatically for him and for her.
Bowlin crawled away from where she’d shot Jones, vomited on the pavement, and asked other drivers to check on Jones. He died of his injury. It didn’t take long for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office to clear Bowlin of any wrongdoing in the case—I’d say she’d done a bit of rightdoing on that freeway that afternoon. But that doesn’t make dealing with the emotional aftermath easy.
Though Bowlin was certain she’d done nothing wrong, and she’d likely be dead if she hadn’t shot Jones, she still suffers from post-traumatic stress. Bowlin said she thinks about the incident constantly. While she says she’s healed from her physical injuries, she is in therapy, which she added is very expensive. Her friends and family have established a GoFundMe page for Bowlin to assist with paying her therapy expenses.
Bowlin put how guns matter into perspective, saying, “I was fighting for my life, and that’s what the whole point of having a concealed weapons permit and having a firearm is—to solely defend your life, because I thought he was going to take mine.”
That’s why Guns Matter!