Moving from California, where I had spent nearly 50 years, to Colorado, has reminded me that different states see guns differently, and thank whomever happens to be your Personal Savior for that. People's views vary as well when it comes to women and guns. When I bought my new S&W M&P 2.0 (reviewed here) at the gun store near my home in Colorado Springs, I timed my total purchase time from when I put my car in park until when I turned on the ignition again. Any guesses? Eighteen minutes.
Women And Guns: From A Different Perspective
In California, that same transaction would have involved plenty of paperwork hassles, a thumbprint, and a 10-day waiting period. Come January 2018 all online purchases of ammo by Californians will have to go through a DOJ licensed vendor and in July 2019, all purchasers in that state will have to undergo a background check. Want less of that? You’ll need to drive to a state due east or northwest, to locales that are friendlier to gun owners, target shooters, and hunters.
Colorado’s CCW and open carry laws are obviously friendlier than those in California too. This point was made to me last week, when we met a realtor for a mountain house we wanted to see and she was wearing her .38 snub revolver in a crossdraw holster over her left hip. My first thought was, “We ain’t in California anymore.” My second thought was, “Good for her.” Do the math: a woman alone, showing houses – some of which are way out in the forest – to absolute strangers. She told me as much, saying she’s all about protecting herself.
A group called The Well Armed Woman has 3,000 members, in 346 chapters across 49 US states. Their website’s motto says, “Where The Feminine and Firearms Meet.” TWAW was founded in 2012 by Carrie Lightfoot, a Scottsdale, AZ firearms instructor. For $50 per year, women can join the group to learn about handguns and how to safely practice with them at shooting ranges in their areas. For women who want to be as gun savvy as men, it’s a worthy investment. If you have women in your life who are becoming more interested in safe gun use, protection, and ownership, send them to Ms. Lightfoot’s site.
Lightfoot’s website (www.thewellarmedwoman.com) is professional and impressive. It features chapter listings, events, a store with plenty of gun-related merchandise, her blog episodes, course listings, and many instructional videos to help women select guns and holsters, target shoot safely, and perhaps most importantly, to defend themselves using revolvers or semi-automatic pistols.
Gallup Poll data from a few years ago suggests that the number of US women who own a firearm nearly doubled from 2005 to 2011, rising from 13% of the nation’s gun buyers to 23%, a similar number for women who identify themselves as target shooting enthusiasts. And while TWAW members say the group is “non-political” and more about teaching gun safety, responsible gun ownership, target practice, concealed carrying, and defensive use, you can join the National Rifle Association, via a link to the NRA website.
So this leads to the question: Are women carrying concealed firearms, in their purses, bags, backpacks, or in body holsters, and they don’t tell anyone about it? Based on the average woman’s not-unreasonable fear of sexual assault by a stranger, being mugged or carjacked on their way to or from work or school, or being assaulted by a current or former boyfriend or ex-husband, the answer has to be a resounding yes.
If so, then the number must be, as criminologists like to call it, a “dark figure,” meaning unreported or unknown to any degree of accuracy. How many women carry concealed firearms, legally or not in their states, with or without the required permits? I’m guessing a lot, yet how many people (okay, mostly men) don’t ever consider the idea that the woman standing next to them at work, at a bar, on a college campus, on a bus or subway, at the ATM, or on the street, is packing a gun?
Gun-based sexism is easy to rationalize: women don’t usually like guns; women are afraid of guns; women think guns are noisy, dangerous, and unnecessary; women think men who obsess about guns are phallically-challenged idiots, etc. But the shadow issue here is that there are plenty of women who own guns, have practiced to proficiency with them, and carry them (legally or otherwise), for the express purpose of not just punching holes in paper targets, but punching holes in any man unfortunate enough to attack them.
While the statistical reality is overwhelming that men engage in more lethal gun violence and are the victims of more lethal gun violence, the leading cause of death for women at work (since the 1980s) is still homicide. For women who have been victims of carjackings, street robberies (or while working as a store cashier), who have been sexually assaulted by a date rapist, stranger, or former intimate partner, were battered by a bad man in their lives, or who are simply fearful of an attack by anyone when they live or move through their world alone, their gun is a welcome companion.
It seems unlikely that most women who carry firearms with or without a permit or have one (or more) in their homes, care much about the consequences of being stopped and searched by a cop or being disarmed or shot by a crook or a horrible ex-boyfriend. They are willing to take those risks, and carry their guns, and use them, and like my realtor, good for them.
When I taught officer safety and tactics classes, I told the officers, troopers, and deputies they must get into the habit of asking everyone they stop if they have a gun. Those who did told me they encountered women in the field who are armed on a startlingly regular basis.
TheWellArmedWomanTV gives a video on Women's Holster Talk:
I’m guessing guns in the hands of scared but determined women have saved them from assaults or murders is a much higher number than we know. Ask the adult women you know outside your family if they own or carry a firearm. Their answers may surprise you.
What do you think about women with guns? Please let us know in the comments section below!
Contact Steve Albrecht at [email protected] or on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht