Women who are thinking of arming themselves for self-defense face a number of challenges, but among the most insidious and pervasive are the “challenges” we receive from our friends, family and the world at large. There are a number of cultural myths that people who know nothing about guns will repeat to you to try to scare you away from gun ownership. Many of those people mean well—they simply don’t know what they don’t know. That said, some of those people are projecting their own inadequacies and fears onto you. Whatever the motivation of these scaremongers, here are three gun fears that you can safely ignore. (We promise.)
1. You’re just going to hurt yourself!
People who know nothing about firearms will present this myth to you in a number of different ways, but the underlying message is always the same: They think that you are incapable of safely handling a firearm. Step back and take a moment to consider what they are really saying.
If you’re like most American women, every day you get behind the controls of a powerful machine that weighs a ton or more and is loaded with explosive vapor. You then take that machine out and pilot it at 60 mph among hundreds or thousands of other people doing the same, many of whom regard things like “turn signals” and “lane markers” as suggestions. You do this accurately, effectively and without fear.
Ask yourself this: Why do these people think that it would be harder for you to manipulate a 2-lb. piece of metal engineering designed from the ground up to be safe, than it would be to survive the average American urban commute?
The truth is that firearms are tools, just like any tool, and learning how to use them safely is a considerably shorter and simpler process than it is to parallel park. (But hey, don’t take my word for it … sign up for a Basic Pistol course today and see how easy it is!)
2. The criminal will take your gun away and use it against you!
This is a favorite among people who not only know nothing about guns, but who are additionally utterly ignorant on self-defense or criminal psychology. It’s difficult, therefore, to unpack every different way in which it’s wrong … but I’ll try. First, the vast majority of defensive gun uses do not involve a shot being fired. It’s impossible to say exactly how many, but estimates run from 80 to 95 percent. That indicates that most of the time, the criminal sees the firearm and remembers urgent business the next county over and vamooses.
Second, the first thing you will learn in your Basic Pistol course is how to hold your firearm. It’s a strong, two-handed, push-pull grip that would require a tremendous amount of force to break. The hypothetical Bad Guy who would be hypothetically grabbing your gun out of your hands would need to do that while you were in the act of shooting him. This is a poor survival tactic for the Bad Guy.
Third, and I recognize that this is anecdotal, we here at the NRA have been tracking armed citizen encounters for about 150 years now, and it appears that having the bad guy get control of the good guy’s gun happens so rarely as to be statistically nonexistent.
3. You’re not one of Those People, are you?!?
This last “gun fear” is far more subtle than the rest, and more pervasive. There is a bedrock cultural message that women are supposed to be caring, nurturing and (above all else) nonviolent…and that gun ownership negates all of the above. People who discover that you own a firearm or are thinking of buying one will subtly (or not-so-subtly) indicate that this says something bad about your moral fiber. That, perhaps, you aren’t the nice person they thought you were.
For the record, loudly enough so they can hear us in the cheap seats, we state: There is no conflict between firearms ownership and being a caring, nurturing, nonviolent person. Firearms cannot supernaturally possess you and turn you into a different woman than you were before. In fact, gun ownership can and will bolster your ability to be a caring, nurturing, nonviolent person by helping keep you alive if you are ever forced to defend your life.
Whether or not to own a gun, what kind of gun, where you’ll keep it, and when you’ll carry it, are all matters of personal choice. We here at NRA Women can help guide you through those choices. We can also assure you that you are perfectly capable of handling your firearm safely and effectively, no matter what “they” say, with the right training and mindset.