9 Celebrity #GunGirls

Some of these famous gun-toting women might surprise you!

by posted on August 11, 2021
Dolly Parton Main
Public Domain Image: RCA Records, 1977

Harriet Tubman carried a pistol. It’s not a fact many historians tout, but it’s the truth. In fact, women both renowned and obscure have used a variety of firearms throughout the ages to protect themselves, provide for their families and even become famous. In this article, we’ll be looking at nine of the most well-known #gungirls to leave their mark on female firearm history.

1. Deborah Sampson (c. 1760 – 1827)
First up, we have Deborah Sampson. Much like the beloved fairy tale, this courageous woman became a real-life Mulan when she decided to disguise herself as a man in order to fight in the Revolutionary War. Sampson went to great lengths to avoid detection, even treating her own wounds on more than one occasion. From sewing up a nasty sword gash on her forehead to removing a bullet from her own thigh, Sampson proved there is no feat too tough for a woman with a trusty rifle by her side. (Image: Engraving by George Graham. From a drawing by William Beastall, which was based on a painting by Joseph Stone.Public Domain)

2. Harriet Tubman (c. 1822 – 1913)
As a fearless advocate for the liberation of herself and others, it only makes sense that a warrior like Harriet Tubman would carry both a pistol and a cavalry saber on her missions. Known for her no-nonsense attitude, Tubman even reportedly used her pistol to “encourage” escaping slaves who became too fearful to continue halfway through the journey to freedom. (Image: Horatio Seymour Squyer, 1848. National Portrait Gallery, 18 Dec 1905. Public Domain)

3. Mary Fields (c. 1832 – 1914)
As the first female African-American star-route mail carrier in the United States, Mary Fields did not take her position lightly. Despite constant threats from wildlife, weather and bandits, Fields became known as “Stagecoach Mary” for her untarnished reputation of reliability, and credited her success to the multiple firearms she carried. Her pistol of choice? A .38 Smith & Wesson. (Image: Circa 1895. Public Domain)

4. Annie Oakley (1860 – 1926)
When her father died while she was still a child, it fell to young Annie Oakley to be the breadwinner for her family, and win she did. By the age of 7, she was trapping animals and began hunting and shooting proficiently within the next year. In fact, she became so skilled that by the time she was 15, she was able to completely pay off the mortgage on her widowed mother’s farm with her earnings. Traveling the world to compete in shooting competitions while repeatedly setting historic records, everywhere Oakey went, fame and success seemed to follow. Her achievements will forever remain beyond incredible, though she wasn’t the only exemplary woman to shoot in style … (Image: Baker's Art Gallery, Columbus, Ohio. 1880s. Public Domain)

5. Lillian Smith (c. 1871 – 1930)
Born with a thirst for adventure and a flair for the dramatic, Lillian Smith was seemingly destined to be an accomplished trick shooter. At just 10 years old, her father allegedly made a $5,000 wager that she couldn’t be out-shot, and no one dared rise to the challenge. Later known as the “Champion California Huntress” for her daring feats, Smith even went on to perform in front of Queen Victoria herself. Though often confused with Annie Oakley, the two actually preferred entirely different shooting styles, as Oakley was most famous for her shotgun trick shots, while Smith performed best with the rifle. (Image: Anderson, 785 Broadway, NY. 1886. Public Domain)

6. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)
Revered as one of the most influential First Ladies of all time, Eleanor Roosevelt has been a household name for decades. However, one of her most important habits remains largely unknown. In 1933, after her husband’s victory in the election, Roosevelt obtained a permit for a pistol, and was said to take it with her whenever she wished to leave the White House without the hassle of U.S. Secret Service protection. Roosevelt continued her license and firearm ownership up until her death, proving that the need for self-defense is independent of both age and social rank. (Image: The United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division. 1933. Public Domain)

7. Dolly Parton (1946 – present)
Besides being one of the most successful country singers of all time, Dolly Parton is a longtime concealed-carry permit holder and advocate for the right to self-defense. When asked why she never travels without a gun in an interview, the “9 to 5” singer didn’t bother mincing words. “Two men [approached] us, [thinking] we were ‘up for sale,’” Dolly recalled of a night out with a friend early on in her career. “One of them started pullin’ at me … tryin’ to handle me … the whole works.” When the men failed to get the message that neither woman was interested, Dolly pulled out her gun, prepared to defend herself. No further action was necessary, but the entertainer was still shaken by the encounter. “I was terrified, and I was mad too,” Parton remembered. Though, she certainly doesn’t intend on ever feeling that way again; the 11-time Grammy award winner has never gone anywhere without her .38 since. (Image: RCA Records, 1977. Public Domain)

8. Angelina Jolie (1975 – present)
Jolie is famous for her on-screen portrayals of gun-wielding women warriors, but unlike many other stars, the actress feels no shame in her decision to bring work home with her. Reportedly an avid firearms collector and enthusiast, Jolie is said to own everything from a custom-made Cisco 1911 pistol to sniper rifles. (Image: Cc. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2014.)

9. Miranda Lambert (1983 – present)
“I am my own protection!” is Miranda Lambert’s unapologetic stance on self-empowerment, and we are right there with her. Growing up the daughter of a police officer, Lambert recalls learning firearm safety at an early age, explaining, “It’s my normal.” After receiving death threats several years ago, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Rather than hiring bodyguards, she began carrying concealed for protection. Despite the growing controversy of her decision, Lambert has made it clear she’s sticking to her guns (quite literally). (Image: Wikipedia user, Lukelambert. 2007. Public Domain)

Bonus: Margaret Corbin
Though not exactly a confirmed #gungirl, Margaret Corbin did take her husband’s place reloading and firing cannons during the Revolutionary war after he fell in battle. She was later honored as the first woman to ever receive a military pension and hailed as “the first woman to take a soldier’s part in the War for Liberty."

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