One of the most exciting things about taking up a new hobby is sharing that passion with your friends and loved ones, but not everyone feels that way when the new hobby in question is shooting. Many gun owners are deeply uncomfortable with disclosing the fact that they enjoy shooting, while others are “out and proud” as ambassadors for the Second Amendment. Should you tell people that you’re a gun owner? There are several factors at play.
Con: Your Security
There are many reasons to stay deep in the gun closet, your security being foremost among them. The fact of the matter is that firearms are very attractive to thieves, because they’re portable, valuable and easy to “fence,” or illegally resell. You might think that the knowledge that you own guns would deter thieves, but that’s not necessarily so. It simply means that the knowledgeable thief should wait until you’ve left your home to break in.
Another way disclosing your gun ownership could compromise your safety is that you lose the element of surprise. Because we women are physically smaller and weaker than men, it’s important that we make the most of every advantage we do have. The element of surprise is a huge advantage, so you should think carefully about letting it be widely known that you’re armed.
Con: Social-Circle Worries
There are some ugly cultural myths about gun owners in America; that’s not fair, but it is a fact. These ugly cultural myths are relatively new—it wasn’t all that long ago that guns were just part of life for most Americans—but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause you problems socially. We know that women who post hunting-trophy photos on social media often get a vicious backlash that far outstrips what male hunters receive. There is no shame at all in wishing to avoid that kind of scrutiny.
Then there are the quieter, subtler forms of social opprobrium. (“Did you hear that so-and-so carries a gun?!? In her purse?!?”) For some people, the cultural narrative that women are nurturers, not defenders, is so powerful that it can override their actual feelings about you. There’s no shame in wishing to avoid that kind of disruption to your relationships, either.
All that said, there are some compelling reasons to come out of the gun vault.
Pro: Disrupt the Narrative
Earlier, we mentioned the “cultural narrative.” The cultural narrative is simply a line of thought that is widely accepted to be true about how society works, even in the absence of evidence. The narrative in question, of course, is that women eschew all forms of violence—even in defense of self—and that we are an anti-gun hivemind. That narrative is incredibly powerful, because it makes many of us afraid to so much as stand up and declare that our lives are worth defending.
However, narratives can be disrupted. Every time a woman stands up and says to herself and to her friends, “I can and will defend myself with a firearm if I must, because I was born with that right,” she is disrupting the narrative. Everyone who knows her now must try to reconcile the lies they see promoted in the media about gun owners with the truth that is standing in front of them. (And looking fabulous while she does it, too.)
Pro: Pay it Forward
They say that behind every great man is a woman, but that’s really not true. Behind every great woman there is a chain of other great women, blazing the trails and boosting beginners. All of us owe a debt to the women who helped us get here—directly or indirectly—and it cannot be paid back directly. It can only be paid forward.
You can do that quietly, by offering words of advice or assistance to select people, if and when you feel safe doing so. Alternately, you can stand as a visible beacon of knowledge about shooting. When a woman in your social circle decides she’s ready to learn about gun handling, she’ll know she has a friendly resource in you.
In the end, only you know what your comfort level is and what is right for you. Whatever you choose, know that your fellow NRA Women support you.