One of the most exciting things for me as a firearms and self defense instructor, is seeing an increasing number of women, especially young people, becoming interested and starting the process toward responsible gun ownership.
Once they have some training, two questions come from most of them. “How do I choose a gun?” is the first. The second, and even more difficult to answer, is, “How in the heck do I carry this thing?”
As with anything else, each person has their own ideas, needs and limitations, so there is no “one size fits all” answer. But there are a good number of us – and ever increasing – who have found answers for ourselves, and it is often helpful for the new folks to consider some of them as they seek their own.
Excellent resources for ladies can be found at “Cornered Cat” and “The Well Armed Woman.” The women who own these websites offer training, networking and shooting related merchandise, as well as a great deal of information and advice. They are well worth a good look, even if you have not yet decided on owning a gun, or carrying one.
Don’t let anyone tell you which gun is best for you. The “best gun” is the one you can control at all times, and which will be comfortable to shoot. If you can’t enjoy your practice, you’ll probably not do much of it.
My advice is fairly simple for choosing a gun. Whether you go to gun shows, gun shops, join a gun club or have lots of friends and neighbors with guns, the best way to find the gun that is right for you is to handle and shoot as many different kinds and sizes as possible. You’ll find one that feels “right” in your hand, and feels comfortable when you fire it. The right gun will be fun to shoot and boost your confidence in yourself each time. As you train and gain experience, don’t stop shooting other guns when you get a chance because you may find others that are “right” as well. You may find that your needs and expectations change, along with your skills and physical strength. Then, if and when you decide to carry, many new things will influence which gun is right for you.
How and where you carry will depend a great deal on where you live, and what is acceptable where you shop, work and recreate. The two websites listed above can give you a lot of information to help with that decision, and a good instructor will usually prove invaluable. You must consider the laws and customs in your area, and also those in places to which you plan to travel.
There are many options for concealed carry, and no one method is best for everyone, but it is only logical that you retain the best control of the gun, and have it most available, if it is on your body somehow. Ladies have serious wardrobe issues with on body carry sometimes, so a period of trial and error is almost unavoidable. Carry in a purse, or other item that can easily be set down and walked away from, should raise serious questions about retention and emergency access. If your purse or briefcase is across the room or left somewhere, you are suddenly much more vulnerable – and you may be liable for damages if someone then takes your gun and causes harm with it.
I carry openly most of the time myself. It is perfectly legal and well accepted here where I live, and most people are not concerned – or even seem to notice. It is not for everyone, of course, and especially not for every woman. Lots of wardrobe conflicts for many of us. But I enjoy the comments and questions I get on occasion, and am always glad for the opportunity to get people to think about self ownership and self defense. Today I went to the general merchandise store in our little town, and an elderly gentleman smiled at me as he said to his companion, “Good to see a lady carry a gun, isn’t it? She looks as if she knows how to use it.” Then he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “Why do you carry a gun?” So I told him.
“I own my life and my body, and I am the only one who is responsible for that life and my safety.”
No apology, excuses or asking for permission. It is an assertive statement that does not impose anything on another person, but simply takes responsibility for oneself. It also is a powerful incentive for others to think about what that means in more ways than the decision to carry a gun – even if you are a lady.