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Women's Perspectives

Holsters for women

Through a Rapist's Eyes, a survey of prisoners and what they look for.

Women, Handguns and Civilization
For a law-abiding citizen to bear personal arms is an act of civilization.

Not just an act of self-defense or an act in defense of civilization, but an act of civilization.

This is true for men and it is even more true for women. For a woman to bear personal arms means that she will not be deprived of her legal rights: to go any lawful place she pleases at any time; to be free in her body, meaning that she need not be defenseless against assailants; to live. And it means that the uncivilized, those who would deprive her of life and the liberties of a free citizen, including freedom from unwanted sexual contact, do so at absolute risk to their lives.

Here is the link to this interesting article by Erin Solaro
Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp testifies before congress ( video )
A letter to the editor mailed to www.keepandbeararms.com 
I am one of those people who you loathe. One of those invisible people who
come into your living room without asking your permission. One of those people
who follow you while you shop, and make it harder for you to make legal
purchases. One of those people who try and tell you how to raise your children,
as if you don't know how. One of those who gives ratings to stations that
promote our demise as a free nation. I am your enemy. Or at least I was.
I followed it all, all of the propaganda, all of the hoopla. Believed it too.
Believed that leaving my house was more dangerous than being in a war. At any
given moment one of you evil gun owners would open fire on me. I saw the NRA
stickers, the Gun owners of America stickers on the cars that passed, and I
thought you were all fools. I did everything in my power financially to try and
help more laws pass that would prevent you from owning guns. I wholeheartedly
believed that only the Police, and Military should have guns. Every time I
heard of a gang shooting, or other criminal act committed with a gun, I
honestly believed that if we could curtail the legal sale of guns, we could
make a difference.
Boy was I wrong.
I have children, three actually, and to me the only thing more important than
raising them properly, was seeing that they aren't hurt in anyway. I wanted to
ban guns, save my children, save all children. No child should have to be part
of any kind of death, especially the kind that involves being shot. I gave
money to all of the anti gun organizations I could think of, went to the
“Million” Mom March, even looked at Rosie when she spoke, and actually admire her.
 Brought the kids as well, and even yelled some not so nice
things to those other marchers. I'm sure some of you know who I refer to.
I was on my way back from the march, on my way back to Connecticut, when I
stopped off of the highway at a rest stop by one of those McDonalds they have
off I-95. By this time I had dropped off two of my kids with their father, and
only had my little one with me. I went into the restroom with her, and on my
way out noticed two men hanging out by my car. There were only two other cars
in the lot at the time that were anywhere near my vehicle. I immediately felt
threatened by their demeanor, but continued on to my car. The smaller of the
two approached me with a knife as I was about to open the door to put my child
in her car seat. He yelled at me to get in the back of the car, they were
taking me for a little ride. I obviously told them to just take my keys, they
could have the car, but they insisted I get in the back. I then heard a man
yelling something I don't quite recall, and saw him running towards me with a
gun in his hand. The two men vanished into their car, and sped away. I stood
there frozen in time, and by the time the gentleman with the gun got to me I
just broke down and cried.
 To make a long story short, you were all right, and I'm sorry. This man with a
gun saved me, and I just keep thinking if I had gotten my wish and guns were
banned, there is no telling where I'd be, and what would've happened to my
daughter. The only regret I have is not getting the man's phone number who
saved my life. I thanked him over and over again, and told him that he saved
me, but he calmly said to me something I'd never forget. He said “That's
what people like me are here for Ms., and I'm happy to have been able to
“That's what people like me are here for,” Those words keep on
running through my head everyday. Maybe this gentleman by some chance is part
of your group, and will read my message. If he does I would just like to say
something to him, and to everyone else reading this note.
Thank you for saving my life, and to the rest of you thank you for fighting
for this man's right to protect me and my child. Tell him for me that I will no
longer be part of the group who invades his home, and tries to tell him how to
store his guns. Tell him I will never be part of any group who tries to make it
impossible for him to buy his tool he used to save me. And tell him I will
never again tell him how to raise his children properly, because obviously I
was oblivious to the fact that responsible people such as him know how to raise
their children better than I do. I did rectify that situation the other day; I
bought a shotgun for home protection, and am in the process of getting my
concealed permit. Next time I will be ready to defend myself, or others for
that matter. Some of my friends think I'm crazy, but they try their best to
understand. I just tell them that as soon as their child's life is put in
jeopardy by some criminal with a weapon that they will understand, but until
then don't tell me how to live my life. I've lost some friends, but
surprisingly most of them understand. If not for this man I could very easily
have been killed or raped, and my child could've been taken from me, so once
more I need to say thanks for saving me, and with all sincerity to the rest of
you, forgive me, for I have sinned.



Annie, get your gun

  • Jon Kelly
  • 15 Sep 08, 06:24 AM GMT

Carol Ruh cried the first time that she held a gun. Visiting a shooting range in Arizona while on holiday with her husband, her anti-firearms views made the trip an upsetting experience.

But after she told the staff of her discomfort, she underwent an epiphany.

Carol Ruh"It was one of those life-defining moments," she recalled. "The gentleman behind the counter said: 'It's not the gun that kills, it's the person behind it.' And that made a lot of sense to me.

"If your heart is that set on doing damage, you can use a chair, a baseball bat, a pen..."

Since that day, Carol's attitudes have changed completely. Having moved to Phoenix permanently, she now runs classes teaching other female shooters how to hone their skills and heads a group called the Arizona Women's Shooting Association. Every time she leaves the house she reaches for her handbag, her keys and her gun.

I'm sure you've guessed why I wanted to come to their range. As soon as Sarah Palin's place on the Republican White House ticket was announced, pundits around the world picked over the apparent disparity between the Alaska governor's femininity and her handiness with a rifle.

And here, too, the lady shooters didn't conform to the stereotype of gun enthusiasts as rabid, wild-eyed survivalists. They'd laid on sandwiches and soda for me and chatted away about their children and careers. They were nice people.

But I admit that I'm uneasy around guns. I mentioned in my initial post how I've lived through the import of many American phenomena to my homeland - some of them good, some of them bad. The senseless killing of schoolchildren with firearms fell squarely into the latter category.

Of course, none of the women I met at the range liked violence any more than I did. I could see that they came here for the pleasure of firing at paper targets. All the same, it seemed that guns symbolised something more to them.

"Darling, you're in the west," laughed Carol. "This was the way of life out here. The whole genre of America was built on the west. It's part of out culture."

Andrea BarringerI think she was right about this. Europeans have no second amendment, no folk memory of living in a frontier society.

And the same applies to other parts of the US, too. Carol said she wouldn't vote for Barack Obama because he and running mate Joe Biden, both supporters of gun control, didn't understand why she loved shooting.

I wanted to find out what made this culture appealing to women, though, especially after Carol's husband Pete, also a convert, told me that he believes they are better at hitting a target than men.

"Their hand-eye co-ordination is better," he said. "They're more patient. You don't get any of the macho stuff."

So I got talking to Andrea Barringer, 27, who was sporting a chunky Glock 9mm on her hip. She'd grown up around guns, firing her first shot at the age of five.

"I think it's a fun pastime," she told me. "I go out shooting in the desert.

"Plus, I'm a single woman. If I was ever in that situation..." She left the sentence hanging.

Lorra MooreAndrea hadn't decided to vote yet, but liked the look of Sarah Palin - a "typical American woman" to whom she could relate.

So too could 56-year-old flight attendant Lorra Moore. She'd only been shooting for a year under Carol's instruction, but hoped that the Alaska governor's prominence would encourage more females to take up the sport.

"I think it will really help to deflect the fears of women who don't understand guns," she said. "They don't understand that they can use them as easily as a man."

There was still one thing I wanted to know, though. What did she have to say to those - both American and foreign - who saw massacres like Dunblane and Columbine as a priori arguments for gun control?

"Those incidents were horrific," she said. "But the bad guys are always going to get the guns.

"I want to preserve the right of the good guys to protect themselves."

I nodded. This very American debate would continue long after I'd gone. I got back on the bus with the sound of pistol-fire ringing in my ears.


Originally published December 30, 2007

Before you pull the gun,try to wield awareness

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Just before Christmas, 30 women in this area participated in a firearms and personal safety course sponsored by the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office. Many wanted to learn to shoot, feeling a .38 Special or similar handgun would be their best defense against the unthinkable: That they too might face a violent death as did the much admired and gentle soul, FSU nurse Cheryl Dunlap.

I can understand their feelings in part, having lived here during Ted Bundy's murderous spree in 1978. In fact, the Volkswagen he stole was found abandoned on the street where I live, right across from my front door.

Six years later, the so-called "beauty queen killer" Christopher Bernard Wilder was on the FBI's most wanted list as a serial killer who abducted and raped at least 10 women and murdered at least seven. His rampage had started in Florida, where he was believed to have raped girls ages 10 and 12 during 1983. Wilder committed suicide in the spring of 1984, but fear was running high that year as Tallahassee was declared Florida's rape capital.

I signed up for a 10-week self-defense course at the Tallahassee Police Department, partly as a journalist, partly as a young woman who didn't like the idea of being a victim-in-waiting.

Our class met two nights a week — quite a commitment when I think back on it — and we were taught by a rugged former New York cop and ex-Marine named Ron Kazoroski. He was assisted by Sgt. Donna Schultz, a lithe former dancer on the crime-prevention team, and Sgt. Doug Farrow, who was memorably quotable:

"Women don't have to put up with some of the things they do," he said, lecturing us about attacks in bars, cars or walking along in public places. "If a man touches you where you don't want to be touched, he loses his right to a pain-free life."

If the women in Wakulla County have already purchased or own weapons, then it is better that they are learning how to handle a gun with some confidence. Now they will feel as if they have an equalizer; whether they would use it another matter.

But what I learned in my self-defense course, and have heard repeated and reinforced many times since, is that it is mighty hard to actually shoot to kill a person — even if you are familiar with weapons, even if the person is viciously coming after you. Professional law-enforcement officers who are trained to shoot to kill are often traumatized by the experience.

There are alternatives. The one that was pounded into me, and which I still use every time I am approaching a vast parking garage, heading toward a car-filled parking lot, walking alone as dark descends, or sometimes just in a large crowd, is awareness.

The class, which at first I described lightly as "an urban finishing school for women," became ever-more compelling as we learned how foolish women (and, yes, men) are to assume there is little to be done if someone chooses to attack us.

Surprise is a weapon

We were trained in physical maneuvers, some of the less-refined martial arts moves that could help us fight if necessary before we could flee. Quick kicks or punches to the throat, groin and eyes are what most attackers wouldn't expect. Surprise is your weapon, too.

The class was graphic and taught us something about pain, which many women don't experience as males often do. From boyhood on, boys fall out of trees, wrestle in schoolyards and get used to coaches shouting, "I don't care if it does hurt."

But we were also training our minds during those 10 weeks, and learning to exude a body language that can work as a protective barrier. Survey your environment, walk tall and proceed to where you're going with purpose. Have your car keys in hand when you leave the mall, the theater, the classroom, your house. You don't want to look disoriented and lost as you search for your parked car or still be fumbling in your purse for your keys when you reach it.

Over and over, the lesson of self-defense is prevention. Be alert. Be aware. Avoid the dangerous situation to begin with. Talk, talk and talk some more if you're attacked, or scream and make a commotion that will buy you a chance to flee or attract help.

A few weeks before the course ended, I'd jotted down in a journal how I was beginning to identify with Clint Eastwood when he growled, "Go ahead. Make my day."

"Tonight I felt this animal-like rush to fight back," I wrote. "My feelings of vulnerability have flown away. Being attacked would make me so angry, I honestly believe the man would be in some jeopardy."

Thoughts change

But that was just before Kazoroski brought out the guns and knives. He began demonstrating techniques for fighting an armed attacker, but cautioned that this is an option only when your death is a distinct possibility — when there is absolutely nothing left to lose and when you are emotionally, psychologically and physically willing to kill.

Repelled by the idea of grabbing a knife or gun and turning it on another human being, I remember that my animal-boldness went into hibernation. I often have wondered if it would come back if ever I was direly threatened.

I am utterly grateful that hasn't happened, but I was forever changed by learning there are ways of fighting back. They begin with your mind, your observations, your awareness, your confidence and your physical willingness to fight and feel pain if ever the unthinkable is happening to you.

Carrying a weapon might make you feel safer, but practicing awareness will make you be safer.

·  Contact Editorial Page Editor Mary Ann Lindley at (850) 599-2178 or mlindley@tallahassee.com.



By Cindy Justice
I have often been asked, “Why do you spend so much time at the
Range?” or “Why do you feel the need to carry a gun around with
You?” or “Wouldn't it be easier to just avoid bad
Most of the people I deal with on a daily basis - friends, family, and
co-workers - all live relatively conservative lifestyles. They live in the
nicer areas of the city. They shop and eat out in areas where they feel safe.
Common sense has us all following the same principals.
We do our shopping while it is still daylight, often bringing a friend along,
and we try to avoid areas that are prone to violence. Is this enough? I had
thought so. Besides, I have a big strong husband who is more than able to
protect me. 
Having my own handgun never crossed my mind, not even after moving to the city
of Houston, Texas. I did watch the news and was aware that there are bad people
out there. But, I considered myself to be a very aware person. I made it a
point of being careful when out by myself. No talking to strangers and such.
After all, it seemed that those victims depicted in the news tended to put
themselves in bad situations by being out late or alone at a night club. It
would never happen to me, as I am very careful. 
Like the birth of a child, one remembers the dates of important events which
change our lives. An event in my life took me down a different path on January
8th, 2008. I would like to share my experience with you.
We had noticed our neighborhood deteriorating and had upped our guard. It
seemed that the inner city crime was slowly oozing down our streets over the
past couple years.  I was very aware of the group of young men mulling around
the front door. This corner had become a new hangout for the 'drop-out' crowd.
Yet, I still felt relatively safe as it was the middle of the afternoon and I
was only a couple blocks from the safety of my home. I followed my normal
guidelines by giving the young men a wide berth, watching their actions
closely, and avoiding direct eye contact. They continued their conversations
and let me through to the door without incident. My radar was peaked, however I
still felt safe.   
After work, I often stop in at that little corner store to pick up a few
miscellaneous groceries. The family who runs the store is loved by the
community. They take the time to get to know their customers, asking friendly
questions about our families. 
This afternoon seemed the same as any other. I walked by the counter prepared
to chit-chat for a few minutes - asking about their son in the third grade,
discussing the crazy gas prices, and telling them of our plans for the weekend.
Today was different. Every week they order one loaf of Oroweat Health Nut bread
just for me. One loaf of wheat bread sitting on the shelf with all the fluffy
white bread. Today they seemed edgy and the wife said, “No more bread. You
go home now.”  I was confused. Was the owner of the little corner store
speaking to me? She looked directly at me, pointed to the door and said again,
“You go home now!”
I leaned in a little closer to the lady and asked if she was OK. She looked so
tired, so scared. The hoodlum element that had crept into the area was wearing
her down.  
She sounded so sad when she quietly replied, “No more bread here. Just go,
As I turned to leave the store, the door was flung open by an angry young man.
He was screaming and cursing at another customer in the store. Natural survival
mode kicked in and I quickly moved to the back corner, ducking behind the
shelves of canned goods.  The owner, his wife, and I all crouched in fear.
She had warned me, practically pushing me out of the store. Now I was trapped.
We were all trapped. 
The two scroungy young men were arguing over what appeared to be a drug deal.
Apparently the customer wasn't happy with his purchase. As the drug dealer
reached into his pocket I could feel my heart pounding and was certain they
could hear it over their cursing. My mind raced as I tried to sort it all
out... Was he reaching for a gun? Would he try to kill any witnesses? Could we
protect ourselves? 
I wish I could convey the helpless feeling, while crouched in the back of the
store. If this man decided to kill us all, we would have been armed with
nothing more than bottles of juice and milk. 
The punk who came into the store was upset over his purchase. He was mad at the
other punk, the one who was already in the store up at the counter. He cursed
and then yelled, “I paid you for three and you only gave me two.” As
it turned out, the punk who was at the counter pulled out a little plastic bag
of 'something' and not a gun. The two continued to curse at each other, and
then they both left the store.
Here it was 4:00 in the afternoon, in a fairly safe area of the city, just two
blocks from my home... And I realized that I was not as safe as I had presumed.
With drug dealers and their customers who are so bold as to do their business
right in front of the general public, it was not far-fetched at all for me to
think that it was going to be a gun coming out of the dealer's pocket instead
of a bag of whatever his product was.
I vowed that never again would I allow myself to be so vulnerable. Everyone
with even the tiniest bit of common sense knows that criminals carry guns no
matter what the laws are. And it doesn't take much of a leap of thought to know
that having my own gun to defend myself is a very good idea.
I knew that if I wanted to live without the constant nagging fear of becoming a
victim, I had two choices: I could stay locked in my home until my husband came
home or I could learn to better protect myself. I chose to become more self
sufficient in my personal protection.
With my husband's encouragement, I purchased my first handgun, a .40 caliber
S&W. It was a bit intimidating to shoot at first. For some reason, I was
worried that it might jam and explode in my face. My husband was very patient
while teaching me that my handgun was not my foe. 
I was able to relax a bit more with each pull of the trigger. But it was not
until I learned to break my handgun down, clean it, and put it back together
that I felt in complete control. After months of shooting at the range, I took
the course and obtained my Concealed Handgun License. I've switched to carrying
a Glock 26 for concealment purposes. It has become a part of my daily wardrobe
and I feel uncomfortable when it is not in the holster.  
I am not a paranoid person nor am I 'looking' for a reason to pull the trigger.
 What my handgun has given me is a sense of control over possible situations. I
know without a doubt that I can draw quickly and hit my mark; practice has made
it automatic. 
While no one wants to be placed in a situation where they would need to shoot
another person, we also do not want the police to be forced to explain to our
loved ones that we were gunned down while hiding in the back of the corner
Cindy Justice is a freelance writer who lives in Houston, Texas with her
husband, oldest son and two dogs. You can email her at mrs.c.justice@gmail.com



From John Farnum

26 Sept 07

Close-call creates a convert!  This from the wife of one of our students:

"Until yesterday, I good-naturedly tolerated my husband's interest in Operator skills and lifestyle.  However, when I worked outside at our place in the country, I chose not to carry a pistol, even though he gently encouraged me to do so.

Again and again, I told him it is just not convenient to lug that pistol around while stacking wood.  After all, I would continue, we live in this sleepy, little town where nothing bad ever happens.  I would then give him the old 'whatever-eye-roll'.

That all changed yesterday!  I'm writing to you, John, to proclaim that he, and you, are SO RIGHT, and always have been!

Early yesterday one morning, we were our walking our two dogs in our large back yard.  We both caught a glimpse of something running across our driveway.  We started moving back toward our house.  Then, we saw them all!

A group of six, large, wild dogs were running in a pack, digging wildly under a fence in an effort to get at the neighbors' horses.   At once, they noticed us and all began running in our direction.  Luckily, we, and the dogs, got back to the house in time.  My heroic husband, pistol at the ready, brought up the rear, covering me.

We found out later that our neighbors tried, mostly unsuccessfully, fighting off the dogs with a shovel and trash-can lid.  Their horses were seriously injured.  Local deputies, when they finally arrived, were far more concerned about having to pay the dog catcher overtime than they were about protecting any of us.

I, at long last, learned to put what you and my husband teach into my heart and mind forever!  As you've reminded us, we are all individually responsible for our own safety.  That now has special meaning for me!"

Comment: Fortunately, an important lesson was learned without a painful price, this time!

Threats seldom come at us in "expected" forms, nor at "convenient" times.

"Hope" is not a strategy!




Limatunes' Range Diaries (my blog about life as a woman at a gun range: Updated 8/7/07 0009 EST) Now with a Carry Options section for women.


From a Woman’s Perspective
by Melissa Allison, Director KC3

I will admit it right from the start; I am a new gun owner. Less than a year ago I would have been more likely to be a member of the Million Mom March than a board member of the Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed. However, as the saying goes, "Times change" and so have my views of guns and gun ownership. I now understand the value of protecting the right to carry concealed weapons. My change of heart resulted in shooting IDPA, joining KC3, and becoming a member of the board of directors. As a member, I have taken the task of writing a column for the newsletter that specifically addresses the needs of women as they relate to concealed carry and gun ownership. In future issues I would like to address various topics of interest to women; however, for this issue I thought it would be appropriate to simply introduce myself and chronicle my journey into the realm of concealed carry.

Ironically enough my first real exposure to guns occurred in California, that state which is rapidly limiting access to handguns. I never had any real interest in guns and certainly never saw the need to own one for myself, but one day my husband suggested that we take a gun safety course together at the local range. (Allow me to interject at this point that my husband is the sole reason that I became interested in guns, so men, listen up…if you are having a hard time convincing your significant other to give guns a chance, continue reading; I am going to give you some tips for softening her resistance). Of course my husband’s suggestion met with my "misunderstanding" of guns; after all, I am a nurse. I gave the normal response: "Guns are dangerous" to which my husband responded, "That’s why we are taking a gun safety course." Wanting something that my husband and I could do together, I gave in to his petition and signed up for the two-hour class.

As the day of our class approached I became more and more nervous. I did not tell any of my friends for fear that they would laugh at me and ask when I was going to join the militia. I thought guns were for rednecks and hunters; certainly no respected citizen would carry one. I was soon to find out that I was wrong. Our class, containing a mom and her son, some computer engineers, as well as my husband and me, was held at the local indoor range. Now you must understand that this was the first time I had ever set foot inside a gun range and the first time I had ever seen a gun fired in real life. I was scared to death after seeing some of the guns people were firing; I told my husband that I did not want a gun that shot fire. He laughed. The class turned out to be just the thing for someone like me; we did not even touch a gun for an hour. We learned the different parts of a gun and how they worked, but more importantly we learned how to handle a gun safely. After safety lessons, it was time to shoot. The instructor gave us both a .22 pistol and a .22 revolver. That was perfect! Men, let me say that if you are trying to get your significant other to be interested in guns do not start them out shooting your .45 or Desert Eagle. Women, in general, are not impressed with the power of guns; they want something they are comfortable shooting. I was comfortable shooting the .22 pistol (It didn’t shoot fire…hehe). The class hooked me. I liked the adrenaline rush that shooting gave me as well as the competitive aspect of trying to shoot that little ‘X’ in the middle of the target.

Before moving to Kentucky, we visited that range several more times; I felt comfortable there. The minute you walked in the door of the range someone asked if you were carrying a gun, and if you were, you had to show it to him. Men, if you are trying to convince your significant other that shooting is safe, do not take them to a range where people are consistently breaking safe handling rules. The other nice thing about that range was that you could rent guns from them. This gave me the opportunity to try out different guns and decide for myself which one I liked. My husband never pushed a certain gun on me; he encouraged me to find something that fit me. Another lesson to learn, men, do not assume that your significant other will like the gun you like, that a Glock is the best pistol for beginners (I hate them), or that women prefer a revolver. These are all sentiments that I encountered, and none of them proved true for me, except that my husband and I both like our Sig P225.

Once my husband and I moved to Kentucky, we got in contact with Charles Riggs who introduced us to the idea of concealed carry. I had never considered this as a possibility; I thought it was unnecessary and dangerous. However, I paid attention to the statistics that my husband placed before me; he never tried to sway my opinion, only presented me with the facts allowing me to make my own informed decision. Once again, men, women are not stupid; give them the appropriate information and they will more than likely arrive at the right conclusion. Statistics did not fail in my case, and I soon realized the value of carrying a concealed weapon to protect myself. I claimed the phrase I saw on a girl’s t-shirt: "I refuse to be a victim." That is where I am today, a female member of KC3 fighting for my right not to be a victim, and that is why I have decided to write this column. I want to help other women understand that guns are not what the media makes them out to be; that in the hands of responsible citizens, they are a valid means of self-defense. I also want to address the needs that women face when considering concealed carry. So watch your newsletter in the future for tips and advice, and hopefully we will all learn something together.


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Lil' Annie: Go get your gun




Little Sure Shot" Annie Oakley became one of the first women superstars as a renown markswoman on Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the late 1800's, her fancy shooting opened the flood gates to the idea that women had a place behind the trigger of a gun.

Although much has changed since the days of Oakley, women and guns remain somewhat of a taboo subject, while in recent years, the popularity of firearms with women has reached an all time high.

According to a survey taken by the National Rifle Association in 2004, over 17 million American women own some type of firearm.

Slowly, guns have been finding their way into the female populace for reasons ranging from hunting to a sense of security to self-defense.

There is a certain image that is associated with female gun ownership, one of strength and power, but there is also something provocative to it as well. The appeal of firearms among women may be the impression of toughness that exudes from them; something that that says, "keep back."

Women are perceived as more delicate and helpless than their male counterparts, they are the targets of more violent crimes and therefore carry a greater fear of coming into harm's way.

When Smith & Wesson introduced their LadySmith model in 1989, they used the slogan that the handgun would "manage to be elegant without sacrificing any of their practicality."

Taking their message to women a step further, they tread upon a woman's propensity to nurture as a mother figure by reminding women of their responsibility to not only protect the family, but also protect themselves as caretakers of their loved ones.

Anti-gun mom turned firearm-advocate
Fellow gun-toting female Marcia Grann O'Brien, editor for the Narragansett Times, who has raised three children and is now a proud grandmother, was a self-proclaimed "huge anti-gun mom" when her own kids were growing up.

"I wouldn't even let my boys have posters with guns in them," said O'Brien, a
Rhode Island native who lived in New York and then moved back to the Ocean State in 1993.

Oddly enough, it was her passion for the anti-gun movement that spurred her eventually love affair with firearms.

In 1995, O'Brien was in an editor's meeting and got wind of a potential story idea surrounding a group of women who frequently gathered at the Warwick Range to practice shoot. O'Brien decided to cover the story out of a sort of morbid curiosity.

"I wanted to see who those crazy women were," she joked. "I said to myself, 'if you are going to do a story on this, you at least need to shoot a gun.'"

She chose the .22-caliber revolver for her first shot.

"I was hooked the first bullet out," said O'Brien. "I loved it. I can't tell you how wonderful and exhilarating it was trying to hit that bulls eye."

Within a week, O'Brien was a gun owner, with her first purchase being her first love, the .22-caliber. She then moved onto a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and finished her collection with a .45-caliber Eastern European semi-automatic. Shortly afterward she also obtained her Handgun Carry Permit.

"My kids get a huge kick out of it," she said when thinking back to her days as an anti-gun mom, calling her transition "beyond bizarre."

Although O'Brien sticks to target shooting and does not partake in hunting, she said she is not against the idea.
In terms of self-defense, O'Brien made clear that she would absolutely use her weapon to protect herself if she saw no other alternative.

"Running away is always the first choice, but if you can't get away, then you shoot," she clarified. "I feel much safer carrying."

In O'Brien's opinion, regardless of women's slight presence in the gun world compared to that of men, she finds that a women's touch makes for a superior shot.

"Women are better shooters because they don't have a macho thing to prove. So when you instruct them, they listen."

Local gun clubs
Eric Gould, president of the local Wincheck Gun Club in West Greenwich said he has noticed more female members frequenting the club in the last couple of years, although not as many as he would have expected due to its growing popularity.

According to Gould, most of the women he notices inside the club are members' wives who are either there to keep their husbands company or maybe fire off a few rounds for fun.

Although the numbers aren't staggering, Gould estimated that roughly a half a dozen single women have, in recent years, attended the club's firearm training class that they hold once or twice a year.

When the club hosts training classes for West Greenwich police cadets, Gould said he has noticed "quite a few" young women in attendance.

He also said that he has even noticed a handful of "little girls" when the club puts on their firearm education classes for children, as parents want their kids to know gun safety at an early age.

Although, many of the women go to the club's safety courses in order to obtain a permit to carry for protection purposes, according to Gould.

While statistically, women appear to get involved with guns for safety issues, Gould argued that those women who shoot for sport and those who shoot for safety are, in his experience, "all across the board."

"I've seen nurses who want to know how to shoot a gun, especially those who work in the city," said Gould, "but I also know a woman who loves to go deer hunting."

"You see a lot more women buying motorcycles, too," he said, noting that women have been moving out of their set gender roles for some time now. "They are becoming much more self sufficient."

Hunting, sport, and the Constitution
Pat Thompson, regional coordinator for Women in the Outdoors, a program that promotes basic gun safety, preservation of the hunting tradition and educational outdoor opportunities, picked up her first firearm 15 years ago and has never looked back.

Thompson has shot sporting clays competitively in Texas and New York State shooting contests, and she now devotes much of her time to the Women in the Outdoors, coordinating events around
Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Like many women, Thompson began shooting as a way to spend time with her husband, who would shoot skeet with his friends often. According to Thompson, her and husband "did everything together," and therefore she would find him reluctant to join his friends at skeet shoots because he felt it was taking time away from her.

After seeing an advertisement in the newspaper for shotgun lessons, Thompson decided to give it a shot, literally.

"I really, really enjoyed it," she said, "and it turns out that I was halfway decent."

As Thompson got more involved with competitive shooting, she became concerned that her constitutional right to bear arms was coming under attack, so she took the road of caution.

Using her already extensive knowledge of firearms, Thompson became certified in shotgun instruction and took several hunting safety courses in order to prove she was a responsible, safety-concerned gun owner.

For her, hunting became the next step in her gun career, although she explained that she never thought of herself joining the hunting community. After deciding to keep her husband company on a hunt, Thompson brought her gun along, but didn't anticipate using it... that was, of course, until she laid eyes on her soon-to-be first kill.

"I saw a deer coming through the woods and I picked up my gun and just fired," she recalled. "It was the most natural thing in the world to harvest an animal."

On the other end of the spectrum, Thompson is also an advocate of women carrying firearms to protect themselves.

"A lot of protection against predators is confidence," stated Thompson, "predators lean toward women who appear to be weak or unsure of themselves, an easy target."

She finds that women who are in possession of a handgun carry themselves differently, deterring potential threats before they happen as well as offering women a means to defend themselves if a dangerous situation arises.


18 Sept 09 from John Farnum

A heartening narrative from one of our female students-by-proxy.  This incident took place last week in an apartment parking lot:

"At  11:30 pm, I had just returned to my apartment from a visit with friends.  I was alone in my car.  I noticed a man (no one I recognized) walking in the parking lot, but he was keeping up a constant pace and seemed to be walking toward his car, paying no attention to me.  So, I concluded that he probably didn't represent a threat.

I grabbed my purse and keys, got out of the truck, and locked the door.  The moment I shut the door, I noticed the man had changed directions  was now walking directly toward me.  I made eye contact.

Authoritatively, and with as much voice-projection as possible, I said, 'Sir, you need to stop coming towards me.'

He slowed his pace.  I said again, 'Sir, you need to stop walking toward me and go the other way.'

He stopped at a distance of fifteen feet and said,

'I just want to know if you have a plastic bag.  Mine's broken, and my stuff is falling everywhere.'

I saw nothing in his hands, and repeated,

'Sir, you need to turn around and walk the other way.'

'Okay,' he replied, 'I will, but do you have a bag I can have?

'I can't help you,' was my rejoinder, as I was determined not to be drawn into a conversation.

'... but my stuff is falling everywhere,' he pleaded.

Again, I said, 'I'm sorry sir.  Move on.  I can't help you.'

'... I live a couple of miles away,' he went on

'I can't help you.  Now, turn around and get away from me,' I repeated several times.

He finally walked away, mumbling something about how he 'didn't mean nothing.'

I immediately broke contact and retreated to my apartment. I then called security and told them what had happened.

I'm thankful that I remembered I needed to talk as loudly as possible, so that witnesses would notice commotion.

Of course, in retrospect I wondered if the man had a legitimate motive.  Maybe he was disabled!  Then, I reminded myself that none of that is important.  I needed to aggressively disengage and get away from this guy.  I did the only thing that made sense!

My initial response was a direct reflection of my training.  I knew what to say and what posture to use, and is worked!  Fortunately, I knew what to do.

In the end, no one was hurt, nor even inconvenienced.

Most importantly, I realized that I am capable of remaining calm and thinking on my feet.  I also realized the power of personal confidence and body language.  It was a priceless lesson, one that will not be forgotten!"

Comment: Another success story that will never make any headline!  This woman knew what to do, and was successful in disengaging without having to escalate to physical force.

Parking lots and driveways are the most dangerous places in our civilization.  Treat them as such!

You have to have a plan!  Otherwise, you'll have to make one up on the fly.  That will lead to hesitation and impotence, and a poor result!




CBS 11 News) DALLAS North Texas police detectives say there's no new information about a serial rapist who has terrorized 19 victims.

One of the women attacked is making sure her attacker knows she's taking steps to make sure it never happens again.  Kathy Smith knows she's not a typical rape victim. She's soft-spoken, but she has a bold message.  "I don't want to ever let myself be in that position again," said Smith. "The only one who can really protect me, is me."  Smith was one of the first victims of a serial rapist who has not yet been caught. "I feel like I came close to dieing that night," Smith said. "If it's me or him, it's going to be him."  In August, Frisco police started distributing a composite of the man who has robbed, beaten, stabbed and even killed one of his victims.  In November of 2005, Smith said the rapist burst into her apartment in Plano. He terrorized her, ransacked the apartment and held a gun to her head, she said. "I thought he was about to spread my brains all over my bedroom wall, and I just did what I could to get out of there alive," Smith said.  Since then, she's experience nightmares, post traumatic stress and she has been angry at the man who raped her.  But Smith has not been silent. She's now applying for her license to carry a concealed handgun, and she encourages others do the same.  "If someone were to break into my home again, they wouldn't find someone pulling the covers up and screaming. They would find a gun pointed at them," said Smith.

Smith says she knows the serial rapist could strike again. She wants to warn other women not to let their guard down.  "You think locking your doors is going to keep someone like that out? No. If they want in, they're coming in," she said.  After the attack, Smith moved to another apartment. She got a dog for protection and had crime prevention officers analyze her home. She warns other women that it's still not enough.  "Even if you have to put bars on your windows to keep people like that out, do it," she said.



From John Farnam:

27 July 08

Success story, from a female student:

"Last week, I had just returned home from shopping. My house is set back from the street and up forty stairs.  Shrubs on both sides of the stairway obscure the view and severely restrict any exit except down the stairs.  When I arrived home, I parked my car in the driveway, carried a load of groceries up to the house, then returned to the car to bring  up the last load.

As I got my arms full again, I heard a man's voice saying, 'Hey lady!  I have something to sell you.'  I turned to see a strange man, scrubby, dirty, and poorly dressed, advancing on me from the street.  I replied,  'I'm not interested,' and started walking quickly toward the stairs.

The man followed.  I turned toward him and said sternly, 'I'm not interested.  Get off my property!'   He replied, 'Let me come in and show you what I have for sale.'  He continued to advance on me.   I abruptly dropped my packages, got my hand on my snubby revolver, and ran up the stairs to my front door, entered my house, and locked the door behind me.

Once inside, I called 911 and reported an 'assault-in-progress.'  I took a breath, thinking the man had probably left.

No such luck!

The man appeared at my doorway and started pounding and kicking the locked door, yelling, "Let me in!  Let me in!"  Still on the line, the 911 operator, hearing the pounding, said, 'What is that?'  I replied, 'Operator, send the police now!  A violent felon is breaking into my house!'

Having only marginal faith in the stoutness of my front door, I retreated up the stairs to a landing.  I used a support post for cover as I pointed my revolver at the door.  I calculated I would be shooting down (safe backstop), plus the attacker would not see me right away.  Fortunately, I had thought about, and rehearsed, all this before, so there was no hesitation on my part.

 I shouted, 'Go away!  I've called the police, and they are on the way.  I have a gun, and I will shoot!

The pounding abruptly stopped, and I could hear him running back down the stairs.  From an upstairs window, I saw a faded van drive up, pick the man up, and drive away.  Never saw him again!

Police were there minutes afterward.  They indicated that what I had experienced fit the MO of a gang of grubs that had spread out over the neighborhood lately.

The moral of this story for me is the confirmation of the value of my professional defensive handgun training and my ongoing practice with my Training Group.  My pistol was loaded, as always, with high-performance ammunition, and I entertained no uncertainty with regard to my ability to stop this felon with gunfire, and I was fully prepared to do so, without hesitation.

Happily, it was not necessary, this time!"



Videos help women see methods for comfortable and stylish carry, with links to other women's sites like


Limalife (Limatunes) has her own great blog.

How to Make Your Wife Hate Guns

Kathy Jackson's site is full of great information from a woman's point of view.



For years, Nashville real estate agent Kim Hoard considered toting a gun for her safety at work and while traveling alone with her two children, ages 7 and 10.  She recently took action when she started getting harassing telephone calls from a man who saw her photo in an advertisement.

A Daughter's Regret


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