The Future of Gun Rights in America



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By Nicki Kenyon, July 21st 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

Shyanne Roberts is nine years old. Her colors are black and purple. She's precocious, energetic, respectful, sweet and patriotic. She is an honor student and an avid country music fan, who is excited about her next NRA convention, not just because of her love for the shooting sports, but also because she gets to go to Music City - Nashville, Tennessee.

And she can outshoot most Soldiers, cops and security professionals – or as she says, "beat boys' butts," and giggles.

Despite being somewhat a celebrity in the gun rights arena, Shyanne is unassuming and innocent. Despite some shameless, indecent swipes some mediots have taken at this sweet girl, she remains happy, focused and incredibly dedicated to her sport. "I've already beaten two retired police officers," she says proudly. "My uncle is one, and he doesn't want to shoot against me."

This incredibly skilled and talented soon-to-be fifth grader has a hectic schedule that would intimidate many adults. "It's so crazy, it's hard to keep up with things," says proud dad Dan Roberts. Between shooting camp with nine-time shooting champion Todd Jarrett, where Shyanne excitedly says she had "SOOO much fun," and several upcoming matches, as well as her first magazine cover and endless practices, Shyanne's commitment would put many grownups to shame.

After having spoken with this beautiful, sweet child and her dad for more than an hour, I know this girl is the future face of gun rights.

She's responsible. She's dedicated. She's unafraid. She practices every night, despite the fact that practice dry-firing, drawing and reloading, clearing jams, magazine changes is not exactly a whole lot of fun. "It's the dry fire practice that she gets bored with," says Dan, but she would be on the range every day if she could. She loves to shoot, and she will be practicing with targets at least three times per week for the next three months in preparation for some of the bigger upcoming matches in which she will participate.

It's not just her dedication to the sport. Shyanne has a keen interest in the history of the United States and certainly in the meaning of the Second Amendment. She understands that it doesn't only impact her as a sportswoman, and at nine years old, she has had the opportunity to exercise her civic responsibility and testify at the New Jersey legislature's Law and Public Safety Committee hearing in opposition to the now-defunct bill that would have lowered the legal limit of magazine rounds from 15 to 10. Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill a few weeks ago.

"I like learning about the Second Amendment," Shyanne tells me. "I like learning about the country and the history." Dan writes for, so Shyanne is consistently exposed to different sources, as well as to his reactions to what is on the news and the TV and talk radio. She is also very proud of the fact that her great grandfather is a World War II veteran, who was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and received a Bronze Star for valor. This bit of family history is important to Shyanne, as is carrying that family tradition going through the generations.

Maybe that's why joining the Army after she finishes high school is a very real possibility for this bright, dedicated nine-year-old, as part of a helicopter crew or maybe a combat medic. Perhaps being exposed to fire and rescue missions through her dad's involvement was an influence, speculates Dan. She wants to give back to her community and country, serve and do for people who can't do for themselves.

But then again, Shyanne has not limited her options. She is considering working to develop a line of youth shooting sports products, since she has faced some challenges being as small as she is, finding suitable equipment. (According to Dan, they had to buy the smallest existing adult male gun belt and modify it to fit Shyanne.) Perhaps as kids' interest in shooting sports expands, so will that niche market for smaller-sized equipment. She has also considered opening a wild game restaurant, is an avid Food Network fan, and plans to take up hunting and being a real outdoorswoman in addition to competing.

And yet through all this, Shyanne remains very real and grounded. Her enjoyment of her sport is pure – "why would you do something that's not fun?" she asks me. She has read some of the articles written about her, but she doesn't take them to heart – neither the positive, nor the negative. "I don't think it's a big deal," she says.

She's taking the attention with aplomb, Dan confirms. She enjoys talking to the media and being on the radio and TV, but ultimately she just wants to go shoot and protect and promote her sport. She's not allowed to read her fan page until dad previews it first. Dan has talked to Shyanne about media attention, and how sometimes there will be those who disagree with who she is and what she does. Her attitude is "Ignore them. They are not right."

Shyanne has a healthy attitude about how she represents gun rights and the Second Amendment. She wants to be the future of the Second Amendment, as well as just shoot and have fun. Her goal is to talk to parents and kids and to take a leadership role in showing them that "the kids and guns combination doesn't mean that bad things will happen." She wants to encourage parents to allow their kids to get involved in shooting sports, and loves promoting the positive message about firearms and gun rights.

Dan says every day there are messages on Shyanne's fan page from parents and children alike, who call her an inspiration and a leader, and the youngster has expressed an interest in taking a leadership role to encourage kids to shoot. He has raised his kids to be leaders, not followers, he says, and these experiences – the magazine cover, the competition, the public relations and the media appearances – have combined to make her better-rounded individual.

Before Shyanne testified in front of the New Jersey legislature, trying to convince politicians that lower magazine limits would destroy her career as a sportswoman, she says she even had trouble with public speaking in school in front of her class of about 20-30 people, but she gave it her best effort. She read her testimony several times, and her father typed up some talking points for her to use. The ultimate failure of the legislation left Shyanne immensely proud for having a played a part in protecting the gun rights of all New Jersey residents.

Civic duty. How many kids have the opportunity to publicly testify in front of the state legislature? How many kids have the opportunity to reach so many people and promote a positive message about kids and guns? How many kids have the chance to promote Second Amendment rights in the media and show a fresh, shining, determined, joyous face of gun rights in America?

With the support of her dad and her brother – as well as countless fans – Shyanne Roberts is taking advantage of all these chances, and those opportunities look endless.

But Shyanne is not just a sportswoman. She's a little girl with varied interests. She loves music. She loves culture. She loves cooking. She loves her family. She's her father's fishing partner and hunting buddy. He is her manager, gunsmith, dad, coach and pal. "The most important thing is that she's happy," he tells me. He feels that if all that ever came of her shooting is a college scholarship and education, he would be happy with the peace of mind, knowing she can take care of herself and be an independent person.

In the meantime Shyanne wants to win a national title, and Dan plans to support her and give her a fighting chance to make her dream a reality. "She's transformed during competitions," he tells me. "She makes new friends, and I see that unfettered true joy when she competes. What else can a parent ask for?"


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Nicki Kenyon has been an avid gun rights advocate since she returned to the United States from an overseas Army tour in Germany. She began writing about Second Amendment issues in 2001 when published her first essay, "The Moment.". She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from American Military University. Her area of expertise in those fields is European and Eurasian affairs. When not writing about gun rights or hanging out with her husband and son, she practices dry-firing her M1911 at the zombies of "The Walking Dead." Nicki Kenyon's Archive Page.

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