Editor’s Note: The author of the questions for this interview with Tomi Lahren are brought to you by Donald J. Mihalek, a frequent Athlon Outdoors contributor and a career law enforcement officer with more than 23 years of experience. Although the photographs of Tomi Lahren were taken using toy guns as props, the topics discussed here are no laughing matter. After reading Tomi’s pointed answers, you should come to the conclusion that if statist politicians in this country have their way, and if we don’t continue the fight to protect and preserve our Second Amendment rights, someday all we’ll have left to protect ourselves and our loved one are plastic squirt guns.
When did you learn how to shoot, and who taught you?
My dad is a gun collector. I grew up with guns in the house and an appreciation for “gun culture.” I was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. My house is about 20 minutes from the closest police station. If something were to happen, my family would be armed and ready to confront the threat. Self-protection and home protection has always been a reality for my family. I had many toy guns growing up. My parents always reinforced the notion that guns, even fake guns, are not to be pointed at anyone, anytime. I was never scared of guns.
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Firearms were never a mystery to me. I understood their purpose and power. I went to school in Las Vegas, then moved to California—two places where gun culture is skewed. I didn’t own a gun or wish to own one until I moved to Texas. I say controversial things. I have a target on my back. I will not be a sitting duck. My gun makes me feel safer. I know if I needed to defend myself, I have the means. It’s locked in a safe and I rarely use it, but I know it’s there, and I feel safer because of it.
What would you say to those who might be afraid of firearms?
We fear what we don’t understand. Guns are not scary if you understand their power and their purpose. I find most people that are anti-gun have never held a gun, bought a gun or shot a gun. The only thing they know of guns is the misinformation the mainstream media tells them. Most young people are afraid to ride a bike or drive a car until they learn. The same can be said for firearms.
What kind of advice would you give women looking to carry a firearm concealed?
There’s a false narrative circulating that those who own firearms are either gang-bangers or rednecks. But that’s not the case. Women should be empowered to carry. Our potential assailants are likely bigger and stronger than we are. A gun is a great equalizer. I wish I had a concealed-carry gun back in my college days. I often had late-night classes and would be forced to walk through campus alone at night. I would have felt much better with a means to protect and defend myself and my body.
Here’s a tip for my ladies out there: If learning to shoot intimidates you, don’t learn from your husband or boyfriend. I’ve found it doesn’t usually go well. There are many female instructors in the field who know how to teach and communicate with women far better than men. I would recommend it. Women learn to shoot in different ways than men, and having that female support is appreciated!
What are your thoughts on pink guns for women?
I’m all for it! I’ve found that some of the most badass women carry customized firearms. It’s great to see women combine a love for the Second Amendment with a love for the prettier things in life. I say deck it out and have fun with it.
If you could only own one gun, what would it be?
I’m a Glock fan. I own a Glock now, and it fits me well.
In a shooting contest between the anchors of Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and TheBlaze, who would win?
TheBlaze hands down. We have Dana Loesch!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a gun owner, shooter and hunter? How has this influenced you?
I didn’t own a gun before the San Bernardino terrorist attack. I didn’t think I had reason to. But I realized that this country is becoming a more dangerous place. The only way to gain a little peace of mind is to be armed. It’s amazing how much better I feel at home knowing I can defend myself if someone walks through my door uninvited. It’s a powerful feeling, but with great power comes great responsibility. Gun education is first and foremost.
How do you feel about “gun-free zones”?
If you think terrorists and lunatics are going to be deterred by a plastic sign, you’re either stupid or living in La La Land. This is the most idiotic defense of gun control put forth by the anti-gun left. A sign isn’t going to save or deter anyone. If anything, a gun-free sign paints a giant target on law-abiding citizens.
What would you say to folks who believe there should be more gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens?
Once we accept the fact that the Democrats want to take away guns, everything else comes into focus. The anti-gunners say they don’t want to infringe on your rights, but that’s the first lie. The Second Amendment states our right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” That means no arbitrary restrictions on the type or size of firearms we own. The notion that an “assault” rifle assaults on its own is ludacris. The notion that some D.C. bureaucrat who has never owned, bought or shot a firearm should be calling the shots for law-abiding Americans is ludicrous. “Shall not be infringed” means shall not be infringed. Here is the difference between Republicans and Democrats: Democrats don’t like guns. They don’t own guns. They don’t want you to own guns, either. Republicans might not like guns. We might not own guns, but we support your right to bear arms. Gun-control laws neuter law-abiding citizens.
After the 2015 terror attack in Chattanooga, you gave a powerful “Final Thoughts” monologue about our troops and President Obama’s lack of leadership. Did you get any backlash for that?
The truth hurts. I know I’m hitting a nerve when the backlash starts. The truth is, if what I was saying were baseless, they wouldn’t get so angry. I’ve had more death threats in the last month than you could imagine. I take the Black Lives Matter movement head on. I get a lot of heat for it. I will not sit back like so many other conservatives and mince my words so as to not offend anyone. I stand behind everything I say. I don’t say it for ratings or views or attention. I say it because I feel it. The labels will not silence me. For every ounce of hate I get, I have a ton of support. The emails I get from military members, law enforcement officers and families and average everyday Americans keep me going. They call me “ballsy,” but I am just fiercely patriotic and unafraid. Stick and stones.
More attacks have occurred since then, including those in San Bernardino and Orlando. How do we, as a voting public, promote change?
Political correctness is intellectual dishonesty. If we cannot name our enemy, radical Islamic terrorists, we cannot defeat them. Radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on the United States, our culture, our Western values and our way of life. It is not racist, xenophobic or Islamophobic to protect our way of life. It’s American. Look at what’s happening in Europe today. European countries have embraced an open-door immigration policy, and it’s a disaster. Outsiders seeking to fundamentally change Europe, not be a part of it, have trampled the culture and way of life. We will see that in the United States if we prioritize Muslim sensitivity over national security and realism. We will. We already are.
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If the Democrats spent half as much time regulating the border as they do regulating our healthcare, our guns and our speech, it would be secured by now. We promote change by electing leaders unafraid to put America first. We are not “Islamophobic” because we aren’t scared of them. Call us rednecks, call us right-wing nuts, but don’t forget to call us armed!
What does the NRA get right for gun-owning Americans? Are there areas for improvement?
The NRA has improved in recent months. The NRA doesn’t need to change its actions—it needs to market the message better. The left is masterful at storytelling. They use emotional pleas and feelings to dominate the narrative. The NRA needs to flip the narrative. The best thing gun groups can do is relay facts to the public. Every time we experience a gun-related tragedy, the left is quick to blame the gun. Commonsense gun rights groups need to remind the public how few of these tragedies are carried out by legal gun owners. It’s not the gun’s fault. If the laws we have now are not enforced, what good will more laws do? Laws only limit the rights of law-abiding gun owners. These groups need to demonstrate how legally owning, obtaining and using a firearm is the best method for self-protection. The NRA recently came out with an ad featuring various gun rights advocates. My friend Antonia Okafor was one of the faces. She’s a young African American campus-carry advocate. We need more diversity in the gun movement. This is a great start.
With the increase in violent crimes in several major U.S. cities, what is your advice to women in America?
Our law enforcement officers are fantastic, but they cannot be everywhere at once. The only way women can be confident and protected is to be armed. As I’ve said before, gun safety and education is first and foremost. It’s not enough to simply own a gun if you don’t know how to safely and effectively use it.
Any thoughts on the first woman running for POTUS?
Hillary Clinton has “experience,” but I call it a 40-year crime spree. She’s lied. She’s lied countless times. She lies about lying. This woman prioritizes her quest for power and money above all else. She is not to be trusted. Hillary would be disastrous for gun rights. Realistically, she’s not going to repeal the Second Amendment, but that doesn’t mean your right to bear arms is safe, my friends. She’s made limiting your rights a central part of her campaign.
All eyes on the Supreme Court. We’ve already got one space to fill for sure; it could be four. Four progressive anti-gun justices on the Supreme Court. That means get ready for an assault weapons ban. Get ready for a repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. No gun dealer or manufacturer, or sporting goods store, or ammunition company would be immune to frivolous lawsuits, and they all would be sued out of business. Welcome to Hillary’s America, a land of regulation from guns, to coal, to healthcare and everything in between.
Armed guards have protected Hillary Clinton for decades thanks to taxpayer dollars, yet she is one of the most boisterous when it comes to peeling away our Second Amendment rights. If you could have a sit-down with her to discuss this, how might things shake out? What questions might you ask her?
First of all, Hillary only takes questions from interviewers and outlets friendly to her campaign. She only takes questions that are pre-planned, pre-written and pre-meditated. As of the time of this interview, she hasn’t held a press conference in months. If by some miracle I did have an opportunity to interview her, I would ask her why the American people should trust anything she says or does. I would ask her if honesty and transparency are important qualities in a leader. I would like to put her in the hot seat. Listen, Democrats will always be anti-gun. They know gun rights are a fundamental part of self-reliance, which is the complete antithesis of what the left desires. The Democrats teach us it’s not about faith, family and freedom. For them, faith has been replaced with government programs, family has been replaced by welfare and freedom has been replaced with dependence and victimhood. Once we understand it, it’s not difficult to see why they are anti-gun.
Law enforcement officers around the country have come under attack lately. Blue Lives Matter has been a rallying cry, but some say it’s just a way to minimize the Black Lives Matter movement and shut down calls for “racial justice.” What’s your take?
After five officers were ambushed and slain at the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, did every white person say, “White Lives Matter”? No, we said, “Blue Lives Matter” because police officers do not come in one size, shape, color, religion or walk of life. Police officers go out every day with a giant target on their back simply for wearing the badge and uniform. Officers make an average of $45,000 per year. If anyone believes a person chooses to become a cop, to work long and strange hours for little pay, to satisfy some pent-up racism, they are fooling themselves. Blue Lives Matter, and I will always back the blue.
Have you always been political? How did you get into political commentary?
My parents say I came out of the womb talking. I have always taken an interest in politics. My parents are not political. They are conservative by nature but have never been overtly political. They are simply hard-working Americans. They did teach me to pay attention. I am an only child. I grew up watching the news with my parents at dinner every night. We would watch and discuss. As I got older, I found myself reaching for the pause button at least once every news story. I couldn’t believe how one-sided and passively liberal the mainstream media is. I have always wanted to be a voice for the average American. I have always wanted to cut through the BS and tell it like it is. I am proud I have found a means to do it.
How did you get started in the media? How did you get your first job with OAN?
I hosted a political roundtable show at UNLV called The Scramble. Two months before I graduated, I started looking for internships. The first place I applied was Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. I didn’t make the cut. I Googled “conservative news outlets” and found an up-and-coming network based in San Diego: One America News Network. I applied for an internship, but the network wasn’t looking for interns.
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The owner, Robert Herring, Sr., invited me to San Diego to interview for a job. I jumped in my 2008 Chevy Cobalt and made the trip from Las Vegas to San Diego. It was my first time in California. After meeting with Mr. Herring, I told him I would do anything to work at OAN. I would write, edit, research or get his coffee. He offered me my own show. My jaw hit the floor. I went back to UNLV, finished my last two months of school and moved to San Diego. I started working on my first show, On Point with Tomi Lahren, from the ground up. It debuted in August of 2014. I was 21 years old. I was and still am the youngest political talk show host in history.
Ever think of running for political office?
I am too young and will be too young for quite some time. I have certainly considered it. I care. I care about this country and its people. I seek to understand what people go through. All Americans, not just the ones that look like me. I want to show people that victimhood and government dependence shackle freedom and potential. If that turns into a political career, I will walk that path.
Tell us about your newest gig at TheBlaze.
My “Final Thoughts” segment following the Chattanooga terrorist attack went viral. I caught the eye of the folks at TheBlaze. I moved to Dallas and started working on my new show, Tomi. It is an hour-long nightly show on TheBlaze. My “Final Thoughts” segments are very popular, and I post them on Facebook, where I have garnered over 200 million views and counting. My Facebook page was set up less than a year ago, and I am already at 2.2 million page likes. I owe my career to my social media followers. They are my bread and butter. Check me out at Facebook.com/TomiLahren, or on Twitter and Instagram: @TomiLahren
This article was published in ‘Pocket Pistols’ #186. For information on how to subscribe, please email subscriptions@