Sean Stephenson, Motivational Speaker, Moves to Arizona and Promptly Buys a Gun
Image: Jamie Peachey Stephenson at the Scottsdale Gun Club's shooting range.
In Chicago, well known for its numerous restrictions on firearms, he occasionally thought about guns, and he's long held the view that people have a right to own and carry them. Once in Arizona, he immersed himself in local gun culture.
He and his wife, having lived "off and on" in the state for about a year and a half, bought a home in north Phoenix and became official residents on January 2, he says. The same day, bought his handgun and began training at the Scottsdale Gun Club's range. He now shoots once or twice a week.
"When you are socially programmed that guns are bad, and then you get to a place where it's more open, your whole psyche changes... It was extremely comforting and relieving. It's an issue that has become quickly very important to me."
The idea of self-reliance is what he likes best about guns and the right to wield them.
"I do not take federal money for being disabled. I don't expect someone to come into my life and save me," he says.
Stephenson dismisses statistics (disputed, as are many statistics in the ceaseless debate on firearms in America) that show the odds are better that gun owners would use their weapons to commit suicide or accidentally shoot themselves or a family member than shoot an attacker.
"Statistics went out the window at birth with me," he says. "You'd have to argue why the hell am I still here."
Guns shouldn't get the blame in mass-murders like the ones in Tucson and Newtown, Connecticut, he maintains -- it's a mental-health problem. He believes that's obvious because most mass murderers are young men, and almost never women. Society needs to address the mental-health issue rather than make changes to firearms laws, which won't be effective, he says, because "since when do criminals follow laws?"
He'd like to hear more talk about how to address the problems faced by the many kids he's seen in the schools at which he's given speeches. He wants more attention paid to the ways children can avoid bullying, build self-esteem and better manage their emotions.
Address the issue in any number of ways.
But don't mess with this Arizonan's right to own guns.