Yesterday morning, Bob Owens—a husband, a father, my friend, and a tireless defender of our Second Amendment rights—took his life. We are all diminished as a result.

I don’t suppose we can ever really know what drives a person to make such a decision. Their pain must be unimaginable. Whatever the cause, Bob’s pain is past, and it is the rest of us who must continue. In particular, Bob leaves behind his parents, his wife, two daughters (17 and 9), and of much lesser concern the many hundreds of us who called him our friend.

For myself, I choose to move forward by remembering all the tremendous good Bob brought to my life in particular and our broader gun culture in general. With respect to his family, I intend to participate in whatever efforts can be arranged to help them continue in the absence of their husband and father—more on that in a moment.

I first met Bob on March 8, 2013. As is typical in our modern world, that first meeting was virtual, an introduction by way of email. At the time I was engaged in minute-by-minute coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. Bob had popped up on my radar screen because of his excellent personal blog, the name of which I no longer recall but the quality of which had made me a committed consumer of everything Bob wrote.

It is my recollection that at the time Bob was not doing great from a professional perspective. I believe he was out of work at the time, and living in a not-great community somewhere in New York along the Hudson River (can you imagine, Bob Owens living in New York)? He was not, however, despondent. He’d launched his own blog, was writing beautiful posts about the gun community, and he was casting about tirelessly for his next opportunity.

As tends to happen for people who make that kind of sustained effort, Bob soon found his next opportunity. Almost exactly five months after our initial contact Bob let me know he’d taken a job as the “editor of a shooting web site. “ That web site was what so many of us now know as Bearing Arms. He also moved himself and his family to North Carolina, an environment far more aligned with Bob Owens’ character and interests than New York could ever hope to be.

Despite being a life-long member of the gun community myself, and quite active online, I’d never heard of Bearing Arms. Under Bob’s stewardship, however, soon most everyone would be well aware of the site. To say he was prolific in producing high quality and insightful content for the site and an absolutist in defense of our Second Amendment rights would be the world’s greatest understatements. His contributions to Twitter and Facebook were similarly prolific and insightful.

Remarkably, in those early years he did all this almost entirely by himself. I believe we were talking at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting when I asked him how many people he had on staff to produce that enormous volume of content. I was expecting to hear 6 or 8 or 10. “Just me,” he responded. I was astonished. Soon thereafter Bob would take Bearing Arms to the next level by bringing on board the lovely and talented Jennifer Jacques, today also an editor at Bearing Arms.

Neither Bob’s schedule nor my own permitted us to spend a great deal of time together in “real space,” but as I look over my emails I recall scores of exchanges between us on a wide variety of gun-related topics, as well as our many interactions on Twitter and Facebook. On several occasions Bob was kind enough to publish my own work at Bearing Arms.

We would, of course, always make a point to meet up in person at the major industry events we both intended, such as SHOT and the NRA Annual Meeting. Indeed, I talked with Bob a mere nine days before his death, at the NRAAM in Atlanta. He seemed a bit under the weather, not uncommon at that event, but otherwise the same Bob he’s always been. Certainly there was nothing to indicate this terrible tragedy would occur just days later.

Yesterday the gun community lost a champion, and a great many of us lost a friend. Far more important, of course, are the wife and daughters who must now continue without their husband and father. For them, a GoFund me site has been established. If each of Bob’s hundreds of friends and admirers contribute even a modest amount it would help alleviate the family’s fiscal concerns and let them focus on their emotional healing. I urge you to make a contribution in whatever amount you can afford, however modest, by clicking here.

I expect there might also be additional charitable efforts made on behalf of Bob’s family. If such do occur, I will certainly make myself available to participate and contribute.

For those who pray, I ask that you please keep Bob and his family in those prayers.

Yesterday we were all diminished, and the world became a darker place. Godspeed, Bob. I can only hope you’ve achieved release from the pain that drove you to that awful decision made at such terrible cost to yourself and your family. To the family, my most sincere condolences, and my personal assurance that should I ever be able to be of assistance, simply let me know.

–-Andrew

Andrew F. Branca is an attorney and the author of The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition, and a host on The Outdoor Channel’s TV show, The Best Defense.