Four years ago at the London Olympics, five-time Olympic Games medalist—the first American to do so—Kim Rhode was surprised to be asked about gun control.
Now, America’s most-decorated Olympic shooter is speaking her mind on the topic.
“We have that stigma attached to our sport,” says Rhode in this time.com story. “When you are talking to a NASCAR driver, they’re not asked to comment on an incident that occurred with a vehicle.”
Rhode is a vocal supporter of Americans’ right to bear arms, saying “The Second Amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our first amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government.”
The 37-year-old shooter who is competing in the 2016 Games in Rio says in the story she plan to pass these values on to her son, who is 3.
“I hope to have him out there shooting, when he becomes of age,” she says in the story. “I started when I was like 7 or 8 years old, and it was something that was a big deal in my family, to gain that right of passage.”
“The six-time Olympian says she understands the impulse behind the push for tighter gun laws––but doesn’t agree with them. The December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., where a married couple shot 14 people and seriously injured 22 more, struck particularly close to home. Rhode lives near Los Angeles and her parents own property in the area around San Bernardino. ‘My heart breaks for those people,’ Rhode tells TIME, but such tragedies ‘make we want to carry even more.’”
“Indeed, Rhode says a series of gun control measures passed in California following the San Bernardino attack are onerous and a misguided response to the tragedy. ‘I shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds a day, so having to do a background check every time I purchase ammo, or every time I want to bring ammo in or out of a competition or a match, those are very challenging for me,’ says Rhode. ‘Also, I’ve had guns in my family for generations that have been passed down, and now I’m going to register them as assault weapons. And they will not be passed on to my son, or to me from my father. It definitely does affect me and give me a reason to speak out more.’”
Rhode also says in the story that her willingness to speak out on gun issues has cost her mainstream sponsorships.
Rhode shoots for the first time in the Rio Games on August 12.