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MTV I’m a gunowner follow up

I want my Empty Vee!

I covered MTV’s I’m a gun owner several times. A new development is that Jane, a woman who claims to be the mother of the girl featured on MTV’s I’m a gun owner, left a long comment here. She says MTV lied to her daughter and misrepresented many events, notably that she hung up her gun. She did not. Good. Jane wants to get the message out, so I’ll reprint it here:

I understand that my response to this post(s) is a few weeks past the initial discussion. However, I was sent this link(s) only recently as a matter of interest, and I have found the varied assumptions made by so many people to be very disturbing. Please forgive me if I mention topics not covered in this particular message as I am responding to several message boards in one.

First of all, I am the mother of the young girl featured on MTV True Life “I’m a Gun Owner.” I would like to think that many of you are intelligent enough to understand that as with any film making endeavor, there is a great deal of creative license put to use – the result being that in many cases, the reality is far different from the impression one is left with from the film. However, since so many people have jumped on board to make accusations regarding the show, let me clarify a few things right up front.

1) My daughter is 23 years old. The filming for the MTV show was done in July through October of 2004 – at the time she was 22 years old. I do not have any idea why the episode took over a year to get on the air. We were initially given an air date of October 2004, yet despite that, it didn’t make its way to the show until December 2005. None-the-less, she was certainly of legal age even a year and a half ago to obtain a CHP (which she has, legally, despite the fact that although they filmed her receiving it – this was not shown on the air)

2) As for the segment which showed her putting the gun into her purse and then immediately showed her in the bar, there was a great deal of footage left out between the two segments – the most significant being that which showed her putting the gun into her glove compartment and explaining to the film crew that you could not legally carry a gun into a bar. As for her drinking – at no time was my daughter armed while consuming alcoholic beverages. Once again, what couldn’t of course be shown, as it was not in keeping with the message of the film, was the fact that she was not alone the night the gun was put into the glove compartment, nor was she in possession of the firearm at any time after the point she walked into the bar. Additionally, at no time since that particular footage was shot, has she taken the gun – even in her car – to any nightclub, bar or party. The segment was essentially “staged ” to show her going out alone at night – and having the gun for protection, and again – much footage was left out which truly shouldn’t have been.

3) She and I both also have issues with the message at the end of her segment that left viewers with the impression that she would no longer need her gun for protection or would not be carrying it. In defense of the filmmakers, they had a job to do – they had to present an evolving story that showed her dedication to firearms and the “reason” why – and her moving forward beyond that. What the show could not delve into for time factors alone is that my daughter has been shooting since she was eight years old, is an active gun rights advocate, and would never choose self defense over her right to own and/or carry a gun. In the past, many years before the show, she has been interviewed by the NRA and has spoken at the State Capitol. Her belief and steadfast support of the Second Amendment will not go away simply because she has taken self defense classes. Yes, it is something she was interested in, in particular for those times where she is unable to be armed – such as mentioned above when she is at or leaving a bar or nightclub, or on campus where firearms are forbidden. However, showing this part of her story did not strengthen their “plot” for lack of a better term, so therefore, it was not included

4) Yes, I agree that there were points in the film that Lennie came across appearing fearful, and as her Mother, but more importantly, as someone who has watched her heal and evolve beyond what happened; this made me more unhappy than anything else I saw in the show. If you were to meet Lennie on the street, you would never by any stretch of the imagination have any idea of what she has gone through. Yes – there are aftereffects from the event that will live with her forever – but they are not visible to the public. On the inside, she will hurt forever because of what this man robbed her of – she didn’t get to graduate with her class, she had to go out on homebound instruction while she healed from the attack, and consequently, was mailed her diploma – forever missing that opportunity that should be every child’s right to walk down the aisle and be handed her diploma by the administration and to celebrate with her friends. She also missed her senior prom – being on homebound instruction prohibited her from attending school functions. These are things that no one will ever be able to give back to her – memories forever denied to her. That is the scar that is left. Beyond that, Lennie chose to become proactive rather than being a silent victim. She used her experience to speak out to other young people about what had happened to her with the hope that she would able to maybe help some other young girl from going through what she did. Her most often repeated phrase was “If I can help just one other young girl from having to go through this, then what I went through wasn’t in vain.” This was her way of healing and dealing with the experience, and through her activism, she has healed wonderfully. She is a bright, active, responsible, outgoing, beautiful young girl, who holds her head high and is not easily intimidated or frightened. Yes – the show repeatedly focused on her comments “I need the gun to feel safe”, ‘I need the gun to be able to live alone” and several other phrases mentioned during the footage – and I felt that was very misleading, as although she obviously made these comments, the hours of additional footage surrounding them as well as the conversations that both proceeded and followed those comments were not included to show the amazing strength that she has and how she has moved beyond the fear that enveloped her (our) lives immediately following the attack.

5) One of the message boards I was sent mentioned that someone with more experience and knowledge could have presented a better case for gun rights. I will be the first to admit that my daughter is not an expert; she is not employed by any gun rights groups. However, she speaks from her heart, and her knowledge has not come without years of research and study. I feel redundant in once again having to remind you that there were many, many hours of footage shot that were not included in the final film. Yes – statistics were cited; yes – there was much discussion about the fact that her assailant not knowing if I was armed was the ultimate factor that prevented her from actually being raped that night. In a debate or discussion, Lennie will bowl you over with facts and figures to not merely back up her beliefs, but convince even the most hardened skeptic to at least consider her point of view.

I have to admit, I feel as if this post is almost useless. I know that as her mother, much of what I have said will be taken in the stance of “a mother defending her young” and yes, there is much truth to that, for there is nothing I would not do to protect my children. However, I urge each of you who read this to think for just a moment of the truth behind the facts I have stated here, and to once again please remember that there is always more to the story that what is presented by one side. Yes, I am her mother, but I am also her friend, and I, more than anyone beyond Lennie herself – know the story behind the film.

As for the show itself, MTV and the filmmakers, I will add this for thought. A gun rights group that my daughter and I are members of initially contacted her about being on the show and put her in touch with the film company. Her first reaction was no – we both knew that MTV has always been heinously liberal and were concerned that her views and opinions would be greatly distorted. It was only after numerous and repeated phone calls from the film company, assuring her that her side would be told truthfully and without prejudice that she finally succumbed and agreed to do the show. MTV has been surprisingly supportive throughout this – at one point when being interviewed by a local newspaper here during the actual filming, they completely supported Lennie in her choice to own a firearm. As for the filmmakers themselves, they have been wonderful. During the three to four months that they became a daily part of our lives, Lennie and I both gained a great deal of respect for them. They were genuinely interested in her opinions and listened fairly and avidly as she explained why the Second Amendment is so important in our society, both on a personal as well as a national level. We went out filming twice, once at the range with the NRA instructor, and once at her Dad’s farm – and on that occasion, she even taught one of the film makers to shoot and celebrated with him as he learned he was an amazingly good shot. Yes, the film was very focused and left out so very much detail that was critical to her story – at the same time, you have to remember that they filmed her for over three months – the amount of footage they had to pour through and weed out was staggering. They were given a theme to follow – and so the footage that was eventually chosen had to be in keeping with the story MTV wanted to present – and I think Shadowbox Films did a wonderful job in making sure that there were many good points brought out in Lennie’s segment. The bottom line is that it was an hour long show that included commercials, so that only leaves what – fifty minutes tops – for the actual show itself. Divide that by the four people showcased and you have less than fifteen minutes per storyline – there was simply no way to bring out everything that was important without making the show appear disconnected. Given that fact and the fact that with any show – you have to have a certain amount of “shock value” or “community issue” focus – I again think they did a wonderful job. Yes, I wish she had come across as stronger, yes, I wish they had cited a few statistics, yes, I wish they had made some points more clear – but in all honestly, they did far better than I had feared, and my hats off to them for ensuring that Lennie came across as believable and sincere as well as showing the world a very, very important reason for the Second Amendment – that self defense IS a basic human right. The amount of email we have received complimenting her on her stance, in many instances even stating that they now understand more clearly just how important the Second Amendment truly is – speaks for itself. As for the other segments that focused on gangs, etc – the reaction we have received personally is that if anything, it strengthened Lennie’s own portion of the show, giving her more credence and believability.

Number 2 and 3 are of particular concern to me. But that’s about what I’d expect from MTV. She was nice enough to give me the link to her daughter’s pages. They are here and here. Judging from the pages, it doesn’t look like she’s stopped packing or advocating for gun rights. I’ve exchanged a few pleasant emails with Jane and have no reason to doubt her account.

6 Responses to “MTV I’m a gunowner follow up”

  1. FishOrMan Says:

    Sorry that Jane and Lennie had to learn first hand the truth of “you don’t need a gun until you NEED a gun”.

    Also, not surprised that the man which caused this did not serve a day in jail. Maybe Lennie’s story will reach the ears of someone who will decide to be armed before the unthinkable happens to them, (then they may politely deal out the only justice our society can count on these days).

    As for MTV twisting their story, who gives a crap. You do the best that you can do and pray God gives them ears to hear.

    Heck, even SAYUNCLE comes across too weak on gun rights sometimes…

    You did your best Lennie, Thanks.

    (Thank you too, SayUncle!)

  2. Jane Says:

    Thank you for your response. It’s been a rather sobering day here, and after reading your post, I thought perhaps I would share the events of today with those of you reading this, as I believe many of you will find this as unsettling as I have …

    For those of you who saw the show, perhaps you remember my daughter stating that we no longer knew where the man that attacked her was located. (it was mentioned very briefly) … Quite sometime before they began filming for the show, I had checked the sex offenders website as I have on occassion ever since the trial – just to make sure the man was reporting as he should. He was no longer anywhere to be found on the website. A telephone call to the State Police yielded little result – sympathic to my daughters call, we were told that although she could not divulge any information, she could tell us that his not being on the website meant one of two things: 1) that he was deceased or 2) that he had left the state of Virginia. For over two years now, we have not had any idea if this man was dead or alive, and if he was alive, where he was living. Today, I received an email from someone that had seen the show and said that they thought they knew where this man was … Sure enough, I went to the sex offenders registry in that state and there he was …

    I can’t tell you the feelings I had, finding him there. Yeah, there was relief to know where he was, pariticularly to find he lived quite some distance from us now … But a cold chill set in that I’ve still not been able to shake all day … You see, Lennie was this man’s third victim. He had already served twelve years in prison for rape before being released and attacking my daughter. Some months after our trial was over, we received a telephone call from the police there asking Lennie if she would talk to yet another young girl that the man had just attacked – he was doing the same thing, intimidating this newest victim just as he had Lennie, and the police were afraid he was getting to her. Lennie told them she would meet with the girl, but it never came to fruition – the girl dropped the charges before they could ever make arrangements for Lennie to meet with her.

    Now – six years later – today … I find that this man has once again been charged with – and found guilty of rape by force/fear … To MY knowledge – that’s five victims – and this man is STILL on the streets. When you take into consideration that something like 78% of rapes in the US are never reported and apply those statistics to this scenario – how many women has this man attacked in reality? And what is it going to take to get him off the streets?

    I don’t even really know what else to say here, my mind has been spinning all afternoon … disillusionment, dispappointment, anger at a government that would allow this to go on … and over and above all of it – having to tell my daughter that I had finally located this animal – and that he had done it again. Thanks for listening – guess I just needed to vent …

  3. FishOrMan Says:

    No need to live in fear. You have the tool of self-defense. Gunowners choose to not live in denial or fear, (except fear from our government, of course).

    This rapist scumbag, and the thousands like him, no longer live in fear of our “justice” system. One generation of gunowners can put that fear back on the criminals shoulders.

    Stories like Lennie’s help those new to guns realize what it is all about. Plus, those gunowners who have been around awhile have renewed desires to reach the next Lennie before it happens to them.

    And a politely armed society appears to be our only answer to this, our justice system is only getting worse: 60 day sentence for rapisthttp://www.ravnwood.com/archives/005775.php

  4. SayUncle » The enemy of my . . . oh, wait Says:

    […] Commenting on the treatment of Lennie (of MTV’s I’m a gun owner) by pro gun folks, bitter notes: What bothers me is how it appears that gun owners tore the poor girl apart. Have I mentioned before that gun owners are our own worst enemy? It’s why the other side has been able to divide and conquer so easily. […]

  5. MGoduto Says:

    I taped this MTV show and watched it later; I thought that way too much time was spent on the gang-bangers and the problems they brought upon themselves. I think that Lennie was portrayed in a positive light despite the film-editing ‘license’ taken by MTV and I would’ve liked to have seen more of her and less of that lowlife ‘Lucky’.

    I thought that Lennie had a lot of balls to take charge of herself and I wish her and her mom all the best.

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