As a woman, I approach gun ownership differently from my husband. He gravitates naturally toward guns. I stayed on the fence for a long time because of my reluctance to get involved with firearms. We are not unique in that dichotomy.
Women who are thinking of buying a gun, or using the gun they have, will be held back by these concerns:
- Fear of harming their children
- Fear of harming themselves
- The expense
- The trouble of getting a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP)
- Concern about what friends and family will think
- Concerns about adequate concealment of the weapon
- Lack of experience
- Not knowing where to go for training
- The innate masculinity of the gun toting community
- The noise of shooting
- Fear of breaking the law
- Thinking that protecting the family is a man’s job
Consider the benefits of gun ownership for women:
- The equalization of force between a strong assailant and (on average) a less physically strong woman
- The sense of confidence from knowing you can protect yourself
- The self control that comes from learning self defense
- The power that comes from understanding the laws
- The ability to make a difference when you encounter a violent situation
- The respect you will earn with your new confidence
- The enhanced situational awareness that comes with training
- The realization that you can be the victor rather than the victim
Women who are not ready to own a gun can consider other self defense options:
- Martial arts training
- Stun gun
- Pepper Spray
- Personal alarm
- Situational awareness
- Using common items as a weapon
When you are ready for gun ownership, take these steps:
- Research types of guns
- Learn how a gun works
- Recruit a friend to take you shooting
- Shoot several types of guns before you make a purchase
- Buy a gun
- Buy a holster, ammunition, eye protection, and ear protection
- Take an introductory course from a firearms instructor
- Take a Concealed Weapons course from a firearms instructor
- Get your permit
- Start carrying!
Let’s address women’s common concerns about guns in detail.
What if I harm my children?
This was my biggest concern when I thought about getting a gun. Babies and toddlers are into everything, including Mom’s purse, so special caution is necessary. Older children are curious and may want to handle the gun.
I address how to introduce your children to you gun in a developmentally appropriate manner in this article. For babies and toddlers, keeping the gun locked up and out of reach is imperative. Safe storage is the key, and I cover safe home storage in this article.
Older children can be introduced to gun safety in small steps, with supervision, and they must understand never to touch a gun if Mom and Dad are not helping them.
My 10-year-old started with a BB gun and had a thorough education in gun safety from her father before moving on to bigger guns. See her insights in her post.
The Eddie Eagle Program sponsored by the NRA is a way to introduce children to gun safety at an age appropriate level. Here is a program in the Upstate of South Carolina.
My other concern was my own ability to control my responses. I had visions of my child startling me and causing me to reach for my gun in error.
That is not going to happen because I learned the Four Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded
- Don’t point your gun at anything you don’t wish to destroy
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- Know your target and what is beyond it.
With proper training, I have developed the awareness not to shoot first and ask questions later. Life is too precious to take lightly.
What if I harm myself?
I was also concerned about accidentally shooting or dropping my gun. Modern handguns, especially revolvers, are designed to prevent negligent discharge.
The amount of pressure required to shoot a revolver makes it unlikely to go off when you don’t mean it to, if you follow the Four Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety.
Semi-automatics are equipped with safety features to keep your gun from going off if you drop it or fumble with it before you squeeze the trigger. See my article about what happens if you drop your gun.
How Expensive is Gun Ownership?
This is definitely a factor to consider when you are thinking of buying a gun. You can get in the door for around $250, or you can spend thousands of dollars on a beautiful work of art.
See my article on the types of guns and their cost, bearing in mind that MSRP is usually more than you end up paying at most retailers.
Then there is the cost of ammunition. You also want to practice frequently enough to keep up your skills, and this means incurring range fees if you don’t have a gun range in your back yard.
Gun liability insurance is something we strongly suggest when you own a gun, even if you never leave home with it. I wrote this article to give you an overview of three companies with a variety of price points and features starting at $10.95 a month for a basic plan.
You can buy a used gun for less, and you can search for deals on ammunition and accessories, but there is definitely a cost to gun ownership.
You just have to factor in the cost of not owning a gun at the crucial moment when you need to defend yourself.
How Do I Get a Concealed Weapons Permit?
The process for getting a Concealed Weapons Permit will vary by state. See your state’s regulatory agency for details. In South Carolina you can look at the SLED (State Law Enforcement Divison) website.
Constitutional Carry States such as Oklahoma do not require a permit to carry a gun, but you still have to meet age requirements and other rules, so check the law in your state. We advise getting a permit even if it is not required, so that you will have a thorough knowledge of the law.
You will also need your state’s permit in order to carry in other states that have reciprocal carry with your state. See the reciprocity map provided by USCCA to check which states allow you carry based on your state’s permit.
To get a permit in South Carolina you must complete a CWP class, pass a written test, and pass a shooting proficiency test with 35 of 50 shots hitting the silhouette area of the target. You must fill out an application and send it in with $50 and your fingerprints.
If you use the automated fingerprint program, only available in certain locations, you will get your permit in several weeks, after a background check.
If you submit paper fingerprints, you may have to wait three months for your permit. Demand is high right now because political unrest and election years are strong motivators for people who were thinking of getting Concealed Carry permits.
To learn more about what is covered in a CWP class, see my article.
What Will My Friends and Family Think?
You don’t have to tell anyone who doesn’t live with you that you have a gun. Your friends, your acquaintances, and the people at work don’t need to know about your gun any more than they need to know what kind of underwear you choose.
In fact, you are obligated in most states to conceal your weapon. It is good practice to keep silent about your ability to protect yourself. If I didn’t have a strong desire to promote the Constitution on this website, no one would know about my gun.
There are some caveats, however. You need to discuss your choice to carry concealed with the people in your home. You need to set rules about who has access to your gun and what you will do to keep it out of the hands of criminals and children.
You need to follow the rules about where to carry. See my article on the laws of South Carolina to get a general idea, but know that the laws of your state will vary.
When you do choose to share your decision with others, be matter-of-fact about it. Explain that you did your research and followed the law. Most people will understand and respect your choice.
You probably have a sense of which of your friends and relatives are open to exercising your Second Amendment right to defend yourself. I recommend being open with them first and keeping silent with others until you feel confident about your choice.
Remember, the Constitution guarantees you the right to defend yourself. We have allowed the states to chip away at these rights with laws and restrictions, but the power of the government comes from the governed in the United States. I encourage you to vote to keep that power.
How Will I Conceal A Gun?
This was another big concern of mine. I am 5’2″ tall and there is not a lot of room at my waist. My clothing choices lean toward form-fitting clothing. Did I have to get a whole new wardrobe?
No, but I do have a tendency toward a looser fit now that I carry concealed. I find that deeper concealment completely removes any danger of printing (showing the outline of the gun) but also makes my waistband a little tighter.
There are many options for concealed carry, including the traditional waistline options, shoulder holsters, thigh holsters, ankle holsters, and even off-body solutions such as purses and backpacks.
If you choose off-body carry, make sure that you can keep your gun with you the whole time you are away from home. You are responsible for everything that happens with your gun.
See my article on concealed carry clothing options for women to see a full run-down of the options available.
But I’ve Never Shot a Gun!
We all have to start somewhere. I was married to my gun loving husband for years before I ever shot one of his guns. I was a good shot right from the start. This is often the case with women because we take the responsibility very seriously and aim carefully.
I went to a birthday party when my daughter was little and observed a mother holding up a balloon in front of her son. He instinctively punched the balloon.
Curious, I held up a balloon in front of my daughter. She hugged it.
The innate tendency for a male to want to play with weapons makes him approach the subject with glee, whereas a female is likely to have a more measured response.
I realize that there are exceptions. Your son might be less interested in guns and your daughter more so, but I am generalizing to make a point. A woman reading this article is likely to be nervous about shooting.
Just follow the instructions of someone knowledgeable and you will be fine.
Where Do I Go For Training?
I’m glad you asked! Your state will have a registry for the licensed firearms instructors in your area. I used this link to find my husband’s listing in South Carolina.
I also typed “firearms instructor” into a search engine and got a page of local listings.
Double Eagle Gunworks LLC is located in the Upstate of South Carolina. If you are interested in training with us, contact us to schedule training or go to our calendar page to sign up for the next CWP class. Chris will even go with you to a gun show or gun store to help you pick out a gun.
Your local gun range will be able to recommend an instructor as well.
But Guns Are For Men!
Men have more of an affinity for guns, but the gun world is full of women. Go to YouTube and you will find a plethora of women talking about guns. As with all topics having to do with sports or outdoors, you will find more men gravitating toward the subject, but don’t let that stop you.
Men who learn about my gun blog are generally supportive and interested, because they want their wives and daughters to be able to defend themselves.
A woman who can talk guns with a man will be more interesting in his eyes because she can talk about something he already likes.
If you run into a man at a gun store who talks down to you just because you are female, take your business elsewhere. As a general rule, you don’t have to put up with other people’s nonsense when you are the customer.
But Guns Are Loud!
Yup, guns are loud. Be sure to wear eye and ear protection every time you shoot. They can also have a lot of kick. Start with a .22 the first time you shoot. The noise is minimal and there isn’t much recoil, so you won’t develop a flinch when you shoot it.
Work up to the big guns later, when you are feeling more confident.
What If I Break the Law?
You have to know the law in order to follow the law. That is why I recommend a Concealed Weapons Permit even if your state doesn’t require one. Then keep track of the legislature of your state to see what new laws they pass every year. Better yet, advocate for the laws you want.
Won’t My Husband’s Gun Protect Me?
There’s a good chance you are not with your husband twenty four hours a day. He will be happy to step up to the job when you are with him, but what about when you take the kids to the grocery store while he is at a meeting?
You are the protector of your children. Some day you may be very happy that you chose to carry a gun. My daughter tells me she feels very secure knowing that both Mom and Dad are able to defend her should the need arise.
Let’s look at the benefits you get when you own a gun.
The Gun Makes You a Match for a Larger Assailant
Samuel Colt called the gun “the great equalizer” because a woman with firepower can hold off a larger and stronger man. Take advantage of this tool to even the odds for you.
You Will Feel Confident Because You Can Protect Yourself
Prudence is key. Don’t start hanging around in dark alleys because you have a gun. Just know that you will stand taller knowing that you have been trained to handle a self defense situation.
You Will Have More Self Control
It has been said that only the strong can be gentle. That applies to legal gun owners. Concealed carriers have a natural check on their desire to retaliate in a road rage situation or an argument.
They know that a situation can quickly escalate when a gun is involved. Firepower makes you control yourself.
You Will Understand the Law
After taking a Concealed Weapons course, you will know the law and how to apply it. This will give you the power to act in a situation where response time is critical.
You won’t have to wonder whether you have a duty to retreat. That will have been covered in class. In certain states, including South Carolina, you have no duty to flee from an assailant who enters your home. You can stand your ground because the intruder entered your territory.
In other states you must try to escape before you have the legal right to defend your home.
You Can Be The Person Who Stops An Attack
We read about murderers who shoot dozens of people and escape. We also read about intruders who are stopped by a lone armed citizen. Without concealed carry, or in a gun free zone, the assailant is free to take lives.
Wouldn’t you rather be the person who makes the difference?
Your New Confidence Will Earn You Respect
Other people will not notice your concealed weapon. They will notice that you are more aware of your surroundings. They will notice that you are more confident in a sketchy situation.
You Will Be More Aware of Your Environment
Once you are aware of the factors in your environment that affect safety, you can use situational awareness to keep yourself safe in any situation. See my article on situational awareness to learn the basics.
Situational awareness means being aware of who is in your environment and how those people are acting. It means knowing the exits and planning the best route if you need to leave. It means the difference between allowing a situation to escalate and getting out before things go awry.
You Can Be the Victor Rather Than the Victim
You can’t stop all crime. You won’t be able to carry legally everywhere you go. But all the factors listed above will combine to improve your chances of coming out of a confrontation unharmed.
Carrying a Gun May Not Be Right For You
Maybe you aren’t ready for a gun, or you find the objections outweigh the benefits. There are still ways to protect yourself.
Enroll in a Martial Arts Class
Your arms and legs are always with you. Take advantage of a self-defense class that teaches you to use your body as a weapon. You will have your skills even in a gun free zone.
Carry A Stun Gun or Pepper Spray
Check the laws in your state and city. A stun gun will often look like a flashlight. You have to be at close range to use it as a weapon, but the sound it makes is scary enough to frighten off an intruder who does not feel like fighting. Here is a stun gun from Cabela’s.
Here is a pepper spray that looks like lipstick from Optics Planet.
Use a Personal Alarm
Making a lot of noise will attract attention and may convince your attacker to flee. Here is a pink personal alarm from Optics Planet.
Avoid Sketchy Situations
With or without a gun, stay out of places that are innately dangerous. Sometimes trouble will follow you, but don’t go looking for it.
Use Situational Awareness
You may go into a perfectly tranquil looking place and then realize that something is not right. Leave! Find the nearest exit, prepare to use your cell phone to call 911, and get out of any situation that does not feel right.
We are taught to be polite. That’s good policy most of the time, but if something has raised your antennae, pay attention to the God-given gift of fear. Make your excuses if you must and get out.
Make Your Own Weapon
A good self defense instructor will teach you to do three things when encountering a violent situation:
- 1. Flee
- 2. Hide
- 3. Fight
If you can’t flee or hide, and you don’t have anything designed for self defense, do what you can. At close range, aim for the eyes or another tender spot to disable the attacker. If there is an office chair in the way, push it at your attacker.
Don’t be compliant. Fight for your life! Summon help any way you can.
Are You Ready To Start the Journey Toward Owning a Gun?
Perhaps you are convinced that gun ownership merits a closer look. Here’s what to do:
Research Types of Guns
Handguns come in revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Each has its merits and drawback. Revolvers are simpler and easier. Semi-automatics can hold more rounds in a smaller gun.
Learn How a Gun Works
In a nutshell, you load the round in the chamber and pull the trigger to shoot. It helps to know all the details, though, to avoid making mistakes.
The book we use in our shooting courses for women is called Women’s Handgun and Self-Defense Fundamentals. You can buy it on our sales website.
Recruit a Friend to Take You Shooting
Don’t try to figure it out yourself. Someone you know is likely to be willing to take you to a shooting range and show you the basics. If not, hire an instructor. Inquire at the shooting range to find names. They may have one onsite.
Shoot Several Types of Guns Before You Pick One
You might think you want the smallest gun possible for concealed carry, but smaller guns have more recoil because they have less mass to absorb the energy of the shot. Try different sizes and styles to find your preference.
Buy a Gun
The first gun you buy probably will not be the one you use for the next decade. Make a careful choice, but know that your preferences will evolve with familiarity.
Double Eagle Gunworks is a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer and can help you with the sale or transfer of a gun. Other sources are private individuals, gun stores, gun shows, and online dealers.
Buy a Holster, Ammunition, Eye Protection, and Ear Protection
You need a holster to carry your gun. This is another item that you will keep changing as you learn your preferences, so start with a basic holster until you discover what you like.
Here’s a nice soft holster at Cabela’s to get you started. Pay attention to where you carry and whether you are right or left handed. Go to the link above in the section about concealed carry for a full discussion of the options.
Optics Planet offers a combination package including shooting glasses and earmuffs.
Ammunition is hard to find right now, so grab some when you see it. The supply will meet demand again when the political situation stabilizes.
Take an Introductory Course From a Firearms Instructor
Your state’s government will have a website with a list of accredited instructors, or you can search online or ask at the local gun shop. Browse our course catalog to see the courses we offer at Double Eagle Gunworks LLC. You can also ask for a specific topic that interests you.
Take a CWP Course
Your firearms instructor will probably have a CWP course or be able to recommend a CWP instructor. Use the link above to see our CWP course and sign up if you are in the Upstate of South Carolina.
Get Your Permit
After your CWP course (which may go by another name in your state), you have to fill out the application and send it in with your fingerprints and a check. Expect the turnaround turn to be weeks or months before your permit arrives in the mail.
Start Carrying Your Gun
Welcome to the world of concealed carry! I am glad you made the choice to join us. Keep watching my blog for helpful information on gun related topics as well as Constitutional topics.
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