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Not a bit gun-shy

64-year-old protects herself with concealed weapon

Staff writer

Marion County had 315 people with concealed-carry permits in June 2017.

One was Nanette Lowry of Marion. She had been teaching in Wichita when she became afraid for her safety and bought a gun.

“Things got pretty hairy down there sometimes,” she said.

Lowry has spinal stenosis, a condition that produces hip and back pain and makes it difficult to walk. She learned that lawbreakers often target handicapped people like herself.

She bought her gun in 2008 and took a couple of training classes. At the time, state law required people to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Lowry acquired two permits — one from the State of Kansas and one from Utah as a non-resident multi-state permit.

One day, she stopped at a fast food restaurant to get some lunch. She unbuckled her gun belt and put the gun under her seat. She was struggling to get out of her car when someone approached and menacingly demanded money. She pulled the gun out from under the seat so he could see it, and he backed off. Then, her big black lab in the back seat came up to the window. That scared the stranger, she said, and he ran away.

“I was in my car,” she said. “That is my domain. I didn’t point the gun at him. That would be brandishing. If you point a gun at somebody you had better be prepared to shoot and to deal with the consequences.”

Since July 1, 2015, Kansas law allows “constitutional carry.” In other words, the Constitution, not government, gives people the right to carry arms. No permit or training is required.

Lowry and her husband, Gale, moved to Marion in 1976. They lost three children, including a set of twins, to miscarriages in their first two years of marriage before Lowry was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 20. After a hysterectomy, she has been cancer free for 44 years.

The couple adopted a daughter, Sarah, who gave them three grandchildren.

Lowry has been dealing with spinal stenosis for 25 years, although it took a while for doctors to figure out her problem.

Despite that, she went back to school and obtained a teaching degree from Tabor College in 1995. She substituted in area schools and still substitutes at Marion schools.

Despite having a heart attack in 2002, she taught third grade in Wichita from 2000 to 2012, using an electric scooter to get around.

Three years ago, Lowry had back surgery. She said the results were “phenomenal.” She’s not on disability and can walk well.

She cares for her 56-year-old sister, Susan Unruh, who was born with Down syndrome and wasn’t expected to live past 13. A niece and her daughter also recently moved in with them.

Lowry continues to take firearm training classes every two or three years.

“I take classes because the laws change and it’s my responsibility to know what the laws are,” she said. “You have a choice to carry or not to carry. If you carry, you must be very responsible. It’s not a laughing matter. Using a gun isn’t your first choice. You have to think of possible scenarios, and you have to be ready to answer for whatever you do.”

She remembers the advice her grandfather gave her years ago: “If you live long enough, you know you’re going to have some aches and pains. If you wake up and hurt, you know you aren’t dead. You might as well get up and live.”

Last modified June 14, 2018

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