The Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted you as saying you had thoughts of suicide. Can you explain that? What are the lingering effects of being defenseless on campus? I struggled with survivor’s guilt. Why did [Denison] lose her life and I didn’t? I struggled a lot—it still keeps me up at times. The unanswered question in my life will always be, “What would have been different if I had my firearm with me that night?” I can play that incident in my head over and over again, but there’s one outcome that will always be the same—two other rapes would have been prevented, and one woman would be alive today. The thoughts of suicide are really hard to talk about. I think it was, after being raped, just not wanting to process it through and not wanting to figure out how to find peace after what happened. It’s a lot of emotionally draining work. But also the stress of the trial caused my husband and me to endure two miscarriages and 16 months of infertility after that, not to mention all the internal turmoil.
How do you feel about the failure of legislators to pass the campus carry bill in Nevada? Disappointed. It would have been one thing to lose in a fair fight. It is quite another to be “sucker punched,” as my dad puts it. All of the support it received does give me hope that I will see the bill pass in the future, and I have to remind myself that women did not get the right to vote the first time around.
How have you found healing since your attack? What would you tell others facing similar issues? Healing will be a continual process for the rest of my life, and I would not have ever been able to come to this point without my faith in Jesus. My faith has been so crucial. I don’t know how people get through tragedy without it. That is not to say that my faith has made it easier or less painful, but I think my faith made it more bearable by allowing me to know that there was a greater purpose, even if I couldn’t understand it or see how any good could come from it.
It is so important to get help to process through everything. Finding a way to help others through my experience has been so helpful. Honestly, when I reached the point where I was willing to allow some amount of good to come from my most devastating experience, I never in a million years fathomed that I would be led down the path of advocating for campus carry. I truly thought I would become a part of someone’s support system and be able to help them walk through the healing process. It wasn’t until I was in a business writing class for school and was given an assignment to write a paper. I wrote about campus carry. I showed my dad a copy, and he asked me if I was serious about wanting that to change. My response was, “Well, yeah, but who am I? I wouldn’t even know where to begin.” So my dad made some calls to the NRA and that was the conception of the Nevada Campus Protection Act.
I knew that this would require me to revisit my attack countless times and there are some days when it is a lot more painful than others, but the ultimate goal of saving lives and keeping others safe makes it worthwhile.
Following Biela’s arrest, news agencies reported that “girls on campus can finally feel safe.”
Unfortunately, events often highlight the difference between feeling safe and being safe. On July 15, 2011, police at the University of Nevada, Reno alerted students of an offender who attacked a student from behind and groped her buttocks and breasts.
Records indicate there are more than 500 convicted sex offenders living within Reno city limits, and nationwide averages tell us there are about nine sexual assaults every day on college campuses around the country—and that’s just the ones that are reported. Yet college professors and bureaucrats dare to claim fear of licensed permit holders over rapists, and pursue a political agenda that empowers criminals rather than victims.
Few of us require blood ties before stepping up to defend the innocent. But how would you feel if this was your family member? What regrets would plague your nights if your wife, daughter or sister were brutally violated?
“My dad was very supportive when I finally told him,” Collins said. “I think his heart was broken because he wasn’t able to protect me the way a dad should protect his daughter.”
Like the police, we can’t always be around to protect those we love. The least we can do is make sure the law doesn’t threaten them with prison for being prepared to protect themselves.
The least we can do is give them a fighting chance.
David Burnett is the director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry. For more information, visit
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