After violent attack, woman advocates self-protection with guns

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. - Rachel Lucas suffered for years from panic attacks after she was violently sexually assaulted by a stranger, but in 2009 she got her concealed handgun license.

"It was never something I thought about for myself ever, until my daughter suggested it," she says.

Underneath her pant leg is a small gun holstered around her ankle.

"This is a .22; it's a small one, a Beretta Bobcat," she says.

The training she's learned from shooting guns has made a big difference.

Now Lucas is reaching out to other crime victims through her new nonprofit, Safer Oregon, where the focus is promoting self-protection.

They'll do that through legislation, concealed handgun licenses and firearms for self-defense.

"Point women in direction of programs like Refuse to be a Victim and other programs where they can learn to protect themselves with firearms," because, she says, it's about quality of life, especially for victims who have been through so much.

"It's how you feel every moment of your life, that you feel you can protect yourself," she says.

Lucas says there are advocates for gun rights, and then there are advocates for crime victims' rights, but she hasn't found any that do both.

She says it's not just about victims but also their family members, or any Oregonians looking to protect themselves from becoming a victim.

Multiple studies have found that owning a gun does not mean you're safer.

In 2010, the "Southern Medical Journal" found a gun is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member or guest than in the death of an intruder. And Harvard professor David Hemenway, who's written a book about gun violence, says having a gun at home increases the risk of suicide in that household by two to four times.