Empowerment is something that is often mentioned when talking about being a woman. When I say that I’m empowered, I truly mean it because I am a gun owner. As a gun owner, I have the ability to defend myself, my home, and my loved ones. Being a gun owner has taught me responsibility and self-reliance. Being a gun owner has taught me situational awareness and self-defense skills. Being a gun owner is now a part of my identity that has changed my life for the better. Ask any woman and more often than not, she or a woman she knows has been in a situation where she has felt unsafe or been in danger. To some, the thought of owning or carrying a firearm for personal or home defense seems paranoid. In my mind, being a gun owner and carrying my firearm daily is a practical decision.
As much as we like to give others the benefit of the doubt, the reality is that there are dangerous people and situations out there. I had a wake-up call during my sophomore year of college when a young woman from my university was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of her dorm building. At that time, I had my concealed carry permit but had never really thought in-depth about the situations that I might end up in as a female college student. Carrying a firearm is not a guarantee that you will come out on top in a self-defense situation, but I wondered how the outcome could have been different for the young woman from my school. If she had carried a firearm, would she still be here today? There is absolutely no way of knowing the answer to this question, but we as women can do everything in our power to make sure we are prepared to protect ourselves. Personally, I believe that my firearms help me to be more equal to a potential threat. I am 21 years old, 5’7”, and 115lbs. I am not the most athletic or strong woman out there either. Having a self-defense tool such as a firearm allows me to have the best chance possible to defend myself against an attacker that will most likely be bigger and stronger than me.
It is important to realize that while firearms give you a potential advantage, that advantage is not an instant solution. Being able to defend yourself with a firearm requires training. It can sometimes be uncomfortable to be the only woman at the range, or to be the only woman in a training course, especially for women who are new to firearms. There is additional pressure that comes with being the only female in a training situation, but most of the time, everyone there just wants to see you succeed. For a long time, I struggled with feeling confident in situations where I had to shoot in front of other people. I worried about others judging my shooting abilities. I constantly need to remind myself that I am not at the range for other people, I am there for myself. I am there to practice and improve my skills. I am there so I can be prepared to defend myself if the need arises.
For female shooters, gun ownership is not about the image it portrays, but rather the protection that it offers. According to Pew Research Center, 92% of female gun owners state protection as a reason why they own a gun. Of course, there are some fun aspects that go along with being a gun owner, in addition to the more serious reason of protection. I personally enjoy the task of dressing to conceal my firearm and trying out different holsters. Being able to spend a Saturday out on the shooting range is something that I look forward to. As female gun owners, we do not have to fit into the stereotype. Our guns don’t have to be hot pink and our holsters don’t have to be cheetah print, but they can be if you want them to. One of the best aspects of today’s gun industry is that there are so many options out there for guns and gear, and we have the freedom to choose anything we want.
Because I have my rifle next to my bed at night and handgun in an appendix holster when I am everywhere else, I am able to have peace of mind. I think that too often we allow fear to stop us from doing something that we would otherwise want to do. I remember a conversation I had with one of my peers where she told me that she no longer takes night classes because of the fear that someone would attack her on her way back to her car. When women let fear stop them, everyone suffers. We miss out on opportunities, and others miss out on our unique contributions in each of those opportunities. Owning a firearm, or any other type of self-defense tool is not a perfect solution, but it is a solution. It is something that can be done to improve your odds of surviving a dangerous situation. If you have the ability to do something to protect your life, why wouldn’t you want to do it?
In today’s society, we really love to talk about empowerment. When I think about what it means to be an empowered woman, I think about being self-reliant with my own safety. My firearms allow me to be more confident in that area of my life. Safety is a personal mindset that all women should have. There is nothing wrong with asking someone to help you be safer, but firearms and other self-defense tools can make it easier for us to take our personal safety into our own hands. There will be situations in which the option to rely on others is nonexistent and having a firearm can and will make a difference. While some may consider firearms to be masculine, the ability to defend yourself and be self-reliant is not limited to men. It is for everyone.