I have a gun. I have a concealed weapons permit and over 50 hours of training, and I think you should have one, too. If -- and this is important -- if you are a woman.
I took self-defense lessons as a teenager that emphasized what to do if your assailant comes at you from behind. Four summers ago, I was thrown forward face-first into the gravel while out running. I’m amazed that I didn’t focus on how much my skinned and bloodied face hurt. I remembered to get my arms out from under me before his stinky, heavy body fell over mine, knocking the breath out of my chest with a pained “Oof!”
“You stupid bitch, you fu-“ he hissed into my ear just as I tried to jab my elbow up and into his stomach.
I got enough breath back to scream, to kick and roll back and forth against his weight. I’m lucky; two women in business suits heard me across the street and raced to my rescue. One called 911 on her phone with shaking fingers while the other yanked off her high heel and held it above her head like a sword, shrieking “Get off her, pig! Get off her, you pig!” The hand holding my ponytail shoved my face into the gravel, then released as he got up and ran.
Could I have fought him off by myself? Maybe. But I thank God every day for Janet and Allyson for choosing to run into a dangerous situation instead of away from it.
When I told this story to my concealed weapons permit instructor a month later, I asked him how a gun would have changed the equation. He followed through with the same pattern of attack my would-be rapist used, trying to show me at what point I’d pull my gun from my holster and jam it into his ribcage. I didn’t make a very good showing. I cried and curled up in a ball, most of the front side of me still scabbed and raw.
“Let’s try it again,” he offered. I froze.
On the next try, I flailed like a turtle on its back.
On the fifth effort, I managed to get my gun out while pinned.
On the sixth try, I was able to follow his instructions.
I run with a gun. It’s a .380 made for concealed carry. The pistol is light, less than six inches long and doesn’t bang against my hip when I’m lunging up a hill. And I would not hesitate to pull the trigger to save my life.
If I had my way, every woman qualified to carry a gun would have one too. Ignore the cries of “Sexism!” for a minute and hear me out. Initial studies conducted as far back as 30 years ago are still cited that women are more likely to face violence when there’s a gun in the home. Those old “studies” are ridiculously flawed because the vast majority of women in the studies were not the ones to purchase the weapons and had no training to use them.
The new research is showing the rising tide of gun ownership is swelled by women. We get -- on average -- 10 hours more training in gun safety and marksmanship per year than men. I appreciate the new gun control laws imposed by Congress that demand more instruction hours and more frequent recertification, because as females, we benefit.
Women are better trained and better prepared for an actual incident now than ever before. Do I think you should just randomly purchase a firearm with a vague idea that it will make you safer? No, go get a dog and some pepper spray. But if you’re determined to educate yourself and learn how use your weapon responsibly and skillfully -- you will benefit.
When I run, I’m still scanning the area and looking for potential dangers. I present myself as a stronger and more confident person. And I don’t feel the same futility and rage when someone harasses me.
“Hey, slut! Like them titties bouncing!” Yeah, that one never gets old. But so what? I’m not cringing with the fear of what might happen if they come after me.
One car slowed to throw a bag of fast-food garbage at me. As the bag split and old French fries flew across my running shoes, I rolled my eyes and ran on. Before getting my concealed weapons permit, I would have dwelled bitterly on that episode for months. There’s something about knowing that I can protect myself if the situation moves from harassment to violence. It keeps me from feeling the futility and rage that used to swamp me every time I’d have to sidestep another idiot.
No, I’m not going to whip out my .380 and threaten every jerk discussing my “titties” at the top of his lungs. According to the new gun research, women who carry are less likely to respond violently in a threatening situation. But here’s the important point: the sexual assault and theft rates for female gun owners is as much as 15 times lower than for non-gun owners. Meaning -- when it counts, women can act. This is especially crucial for women of color who face vastly higher counts of assault and theft. An African-American mom and her two daughters were in my concealed weapons course for this very reason.
We looked up the statistics: Gun owners who are women of color reduced their risk of violent crime by a galactic 78% percent over 5 years of gun ownership.
See, here’s the where two sexes differ: Men gun owners are more likely to react violently during “perceived” threatening moments, brandishing a gun sooner and pulling the trigger well before any demonstrable act of violence from the perceived perpetrator. (Short answer: they’re using that chromed Desert Eagle as a penis extension. It's a 14-inch barrel, need I say more?)
Women don’t have the “machismo” illusion that requires them to respond violently to any perception of threat or disrespect. I’m enraged at the stories of young men like Jordan Davis, shot because his “music was too loud,” or Trayvon Martin, killed for walking through a gated community. Both kids were 17, unarmed, and shot by older white men who claimed they “feared for their lives” because the kids were “speaking in a threatening manner.” Women don’t respond like this.
Do I think everyone should race out and buy a Magnum .357 and start shootin’ the place up? No, of course I don’t. Do I think that a woman should get extensive training, regular hours at the gun range and practice caution instead of overconfidence? Absolutely. Maybe one day violence against women will no longer exist. Until then, I’m keeping my gun. And you should have one, too.
Um...unless you buy a pink gun. Please don't buy pink. I will totally shun you.
I'd love to hear your story -- do you feel safer after buying a gun and taking lessons? How has it changed you?