by Karen De Coster
"To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic." ~ Ted Nugent
Women never cease to amaze me. The majority of them are still "afraid" of guns. Afraid, as in "oohhhh, they are so scary." They say things like "I don’t like them around" and "they’re dangerous." I know of women who have defense-minded, pro-gun husbands and they will not let their guy talk about those nasty things in their presence. Shhh, the children will hear, or, they might actually see an evil gun! Keep them locked away. Don’t tell the neighbors you have a gun in our house, or we’ll be outcasts. And in the background you can almost hear another feeble Oprah sermon keeping women stupid, but oh, they feel good about themselves and their newfound self-esteem.
All the time, women are shocked, shocked! to hear that I have a gun, and worse, I have several guns. And then, oh no, I actually carry one with me. That’s so odd, they think. Oh she’s different. Why more than one gun? She must be the aggressive type. After all, the Oprah way is to trust everyone and insist that all people have good intentions always.
Although I tend to think that most women don’t make sense, period, I especially believe this concerning the gun issue. It’s not only difficult to get women to come around to wanting a gun of their own, but they still can’t get to the point where they will understand and accept why others want to own them.
Let’s face it – women are more vulnerable to attack because, most likely, their aggressor will be a man. Women are physically weaker, and criminals know that we are less willing to be mentally prepared for aggression because, unlike men, most of us just aren’t wired to be combative. A woman’s attacker will be bigger, stronger, and faster than her, and by nature they will be more aggressive, and that’s before considering any mental or drug problem that may be associated with a criminal attack. So why do women not want to take that into consideration and equalize the situation by learning to use and love guns? Dr. Thomas Szasz, libertarian scholar and Professor of Psychiatry at Syracuse University, once stated, "self-defense is not merely our legal right but our moral duty; because women are more vulnerable than men, their need and obligation to defend themselves is even greater than that of men." Dr. Szasz is a wise man.
Here’s my favorite scene: a woman is walking in a parking garage or parking lot, all alone, wearing 3-inch skinny heels, head down, flicking her mane of endless hair, and chatting mindlessly on the phone. "Blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah," but not a single shred of awareness about the inherent dangers of time and place, who is around her, and what they are doing. She is a Bambi in the woods.
I witness this kind of thing all the time. Women tend to function in the fog of the unknown, making themselves easy targets. The first rule of self-defense is awareness. Situational awareness can, and will, save your life. Be conscious about your surroundings. Stay off the phone, keep your head up, and survey the area around you. Walk boldly. You do not want to give a potential attacker the impression that you are an easy target. Avoidance is the ideal. How many times do women think about this? Probably never. But then again, this is not meant to be a self-defense, how-to guide for women, but rather, a call to women to stand up and take control of their personal security. Women who have the habit of entering the mindless, no-think zone while consistently ignoring potential threats are ripe for something awful to happen. Remember, criminals who attack women frequently scrutinize potential prey for easy pickings. They don’t want to tangle with a woman who appears to be alert or tough as nails. They are looking for women who are unaware, unassertive, and fragile.
Women tend to take a white-picket-fence-and-rose view of the world more often than they should. They think that the world is made of gingerbread houses and buckets of goodwill just waiting to be poured upon them. They believe that when evil takes place, it happens anywhere but in their own backyard. It happens on the evening news, but not to them.
One reason that women need to get over their hostility to guns is because the current environment – economic depression, looming inflation, and widespread unemployment – will bring forth a new criminal class due to desperation. In addition, the established criminal class will ramp up their activity. Carjackings, home invasions, robberies, abductions, and rape will plague women in hard economic times.
So how do we get women to dig guns?
Many women will experience frustration if you keep stressing guns as a method of self-defense and get right to the point of mentally preparing to kill someone to save a life. They may not be ready to "go there" if they are already hostile to guns. Ease ’em on in with things to break down their intolerance.
Most women are introduced to guns at the range, or perhaps by just shootin’ stuff on private property somewhere out in the country. Husbands, fathers, brothers – they all make good first-time instructors because they are trusted by the first-time female shooter. Starting out with the smaller guns is less intimidating and therefore works in favor of a woman gaining confidence about her ability.
Women do tend to be frightened by larger guns. They’ll come right out and say it. I recently added a new carry choice – the Ruger LCP .380, a 9.5 ounce pocketful of reliable defense that is very slim and easy to conceal for us smaller ladies, especially when wearing summer clothing. I have found out that ladies new to guns are attracted to this thing because of its size and non-threatening appearance. But watch out! This gun has some temperamental recoil, especially when loaded with high-velocity ammo. However, once women learn to shoot the smaller caliber pistols and rifles and grow their confidence, they get a hankering to shoot the bigger guns, and it becomes a thrilling experience. Knowing that they can handle a .308 rifle or a .45 pistol tends to bring on miles of smiles.
One thing about guns that should appeal to women is their artistic quality. Guns are beautiful works of art. Not only are guns attractively manufactured, but also, modern design and engineering methods make gun ownership for women a real option. There are guns for small hands, small trigger fingers, and even pink guns. You can buy little, pink rifles for young girls who are just starting to shoot. You can laugh, but this may invite young girls to aspire to guns whereas they might not find another reason to be attracted to them.
One thing I notice that people at gun shops tend to do is to steer women toward revolvers as the "best choice." Because revolvers are thought to be simpler and it requires less practice to load and shoot them, women are steered toward them, oftentimes without being given other workable options. A .38 revolver is considered to be the handgun for beginners. Though it is a great gun, this assumption is wrong and it is a risky attitude to take with a female customer whose life may depend on her ability to learn to master her gun. In fact, a lightweight .38 revolver can have some big recoil, especially in smaller, weaker hands. But mostly, a lady should never be swayed from looking at a semi-auto such as a 9mm or .40, or even a .45. Instead, gun shop salespeople should stress the pros and cons between the two, and then impress upon a female newbie that the semi-auto requires more training time but offers many advantages. Every woman has different needs and her options should be fairly presented so she can make an informed decision that best suits her requirements in the long term. Boston T. Party, in his superb book, Boston’s Gun Bible, states in his chapter on women and guns, "I would only recommend a revolver if you do not have the extra time and/or money for a quality semi-auto."
In fact, instead of slapping a revolver in her hand, it should be stressed to a woman purchasing her first gun that she needs guidance beyond her very basic CPL (Concealed Pistol License) class – she must move well beyond the basics and acquire additional training. A woman who buys a pistol must take supplementary courses such as a concealed weapons course and at least one defensive pistol class. This will educate her on the use of her gun in varied circumstances and will foster an extraordinary level of confidence. Only when you really learn to master that firearm do you come to appreciate and love it. Until that happens, a woman will be wary, lack confidence, and will reject the firearm more often than she covets it.
I came to love guns early on. My Dad started me off shooting a Winchester rifle at seven years old. I was fortunate that my entire childhood meant spending the whole summer, each year, at our cottage in Northern Michigan, out in the sticks, thirteen miles removed from the nearest small town. We had a gravel pit nearby where we shot targets, cans, and other objects. Once I learned that guns had a purpose, and that they could be handled safely and skillfully, I fell in love with them and wanted my own. I saw a similar occurrence last month while I was down in rural Tennessee. I watched a ten-year-old girl shooting a Ruger Mark III 22/45, her face plastered with endless smiles each time that little peashooter popped and knocked down another soda bottle. She reminded me so much of myself at that age when, after unloading a full magazine she’d turn to the group and say, "Can I do that again?" Of course, "again" is never-ending because of the sheer joy experienced while learning real world skills from a trusted adult.
In talking to different women, along with firearms instructors, I find that one of the biggest obstacles for women in actively carrying a pistol is getting to the point where they believe they can take another human life in defense of their own life or the life of a loved one. Indeed, this involves some serious reflection prior to ever carrying a gun or having one in the home for purposes of self-defense. I’ve had CPL instructors tell me about women breaking down and crying upon discussion of this topic during their courses. However, women need to understand the value of their lives, and the lives of their children, and how life can be so easily snuffed out by one person – or a group of people – who harbor a cruel and vicious, criminal agenda. It is essential that a woman train to develop a mindset where she can take another human life where and when her life is in immediate danger from an assailant (or assailants). That can take time, and quite often, that mindset will develop with further training and a better understanding of how to handle the dangers she may confront.
Viewing the world through fuzzy-lined Oprah glasses just won’t suffice anymore. Women need to stop living the dumbed-down life that is being sold to them by daytime TV and brainless magazines and novels. They need to stop pretending that every incident in life can be coped with by invoking yet another worthless fluff statement that exclaims, for the twenty-fifth time, how "happy" and non-judgmental and politically correct they are.
Being hapless and clueless is not a virtue, no matter what your chromosome factor. To steal a few words from Ted Nugent, a pull-no-punches advocate of self-defense rights, a person who accepts defenselessness is unnatural, cowardly, and pathetic. Ladies, boycott that mentality by turning Oprah off and giving guns, and your life, a chance.