And ... we’re live!
You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men—or in our case, women. The long-anticipated celebration of the launch of this new website was to happen this weekend at the 149th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Nashville. Women in attendance were to experience special events and seminars geared toward their support of NRA, the Second Amendment and the outdoor lifestyle. We expected the largest gathering of freedom-loving NRA members ever. Popular events like the Women’s Leadership Forum Luncheon & Auction, the New Energy Breakfast, and a special Nashville Edition of the Ladies Pistol Project were just a few of the many planned opportunities for likeminded women to gather in celebration of shared values and Second Amendment freedoms.
No doubt it would have been epic.
There have been many thousands of other milestone events that have been cancelled across our country due to the pandemic. Everything from budget-busting weddings, birthday and anniversary celebrations, graduations, baby showers and once-in-a-lifetime vacations—things we have come to expect in over-the-top, modern-American fashion—all cancelled or postponed. The virus has shown no mercy, and we mourn for those who have succumbed.
While those affected by interruptions to important plans are no doubt disappointed or even devastated that they did not happen, we have to maintain perspective that these are one-time events that were never guaranteed. What they intended to celebrate is not negated. A wedding marks not just a party, but a lifelong commitment between two people; a birthday celebration is not about cake and gifts, it shows gratitude for a person’s existence; and babies will still be born—pure, innocent and completely unaware of the conditions under which they entered this world.
We, too, are extremely disappointed we were not able to announce this new digital initiative in grand fashion in Nashville, but are humbled and grateful that we are able to launch at all. Its long-term mission remains: to give voice to female Second Amendment advocates across the country and to be the definitive resource for news, education, events and more. Pandemic or not, this is happening. Because freedom is not something we just talk about. It’s something we do.
Like everyone in the world, we had to adapt, adjust to and overcome certain challenges. Sure, there were inconveniences, and our launch was delayed twice. But I have overwhelming gratitude for those who helped get us to this point. None of this could have happened without the vision and leadership of NRA Publications Executive Director Doug Hamlin. His faith and belief in our team was paramount. And our dedicated and focused digital team, led by NRA Publications Digital Director Mike Pedersen, has been working round the clock for months on development. The content contributors have been equally essential. As word of the pandemic turned into stay-at-home orders, we shifted course on some initial launch content to focus on the most timely, addressing topics we regularly talk about that are secondary to our Second Amendment rights, things like training and preparedness. This is no longer a drill. Those two factors alone can make the difference between life and death for a single woman or a mom home with kids while her spouse is deployed or at an otherwise essential job. With news of entire law enforcement agencies suffering from sickouts due to the Covid-19 virus, she truly is in charge of herself and her family’s home situation. To illustrate this, check out Becky Yackley’s “Organizing Your Family in Emergencies,” as well as Annette Evan’s “On Her Own” blog about staying defense-ready. And long-time American Rifleman contributor B. Gil Horman tells us how to “Activate the Home Security Mindset,” and explains why 2A supporters and outdoorsmen and women are probably already the most prepared for emergencies.
Please also check out our video series on understanding firearms and ammunition, produced by Holly Marcus and Jeremiah Knupp, ardent Second Amendment supporters deeply committed to the mission of helping women understand the various and important aspects of gun ownership.
I am grateful for my friends Donna Worthy and Casey Jackson, mother/daughter gun store owners in the state of Maryland, who recount their experiences at their shop from about mid-March, when the panic buying first became evident. If your state’s gun rights are hanging in the balance due to lengthy waiting periods or mandatory licenses, this story should serve as a wakeup call.
I am grateful for Executive Editor Wendy LaFever, who has been writing about gear we love, and donating content from her main property, NRAFamily.org, to ensure our body of work showcases articles that represent Wendy’s identifiable brand of humor. There is no better example of this than her “3 Reasons Why Women Make Better Turkey Hunters Than Men.” Look for more of this lighthearted fare—so essential during these dark days—from Wendy as our site grows.
I am also grateful to introduce a fresh face to the NRAWomen.com team—Assistant Editor Ashley Thess, who was on the job at NRA Headquarters for one day before the work-at-home order came down. Ashley is new to our industry but grew up in a family of Second Amendment supporters. During her employment interview I had occasion to explain the difference between a “Shall Issue” state and a “May Issue” concerning concealed carry. CCW applicants in “May Issue” states, I told her, must have a “good and substantial” reason to be granted a license, like carrying cash for her business, or being the victim of a stalker or other crime. “I want to carry a gun so those things don’t happen to me!” she responded. Sounds right to me. Hired! Look for great things from Ashley as time goes on and we resume normal work operations. For now she’s reviewing books, writing content, editing “Armed Citizen” entries and taking the NRA Online Basic Pistol Training—which she apparently can even do from her patio.
I am grateful for the women who have for years been flying the NRA Women banner, like those of NRA’s Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), and the growing number of female NRA Board members who have championed our cause even further. The WLF, too, has been resourceful in overcoming the social distancing challenges by holding one of its most popular events at the NRA Annual Meetings, the silent auction, online. The bidding—which happened via the GiveSmart app—has now closed, but we'll be reporting on how many participated in this event. Be sure to mark your calendars to attend this event in person in 2021 as we celebrate at the 150th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Houston, Texas.
Lastly, but very importantly, I am grateful to our site’s long-time sponsor, Smith & Wesson, a brand that has proved equally popular among women in the world of self-defense. Their support has been critical in our fight to defend our Second Amendment, particularly in this election year, and we look forward to highlighting their many products that have found favor among women.
Don’t forget—we are just getting started. There is a lot more planned as we grow, particularly once we can get back to the range and head to the field. In these uncertain and stressful times, we all have even greater need for close friendships, good news and reliable networks. We understand these basic needs, and applaud all of the women who are doing their part in continuing to champion our Second Amendment rights while supporting friends, families, co-workers and communities during these uncommon days.
Welcome aboard. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions and ideas for future content, or to tell us about an NRA woman who deserves to be spotlighted for her 2A endeavors.
Thanks for joining us.
Ann Y. Smith
Editor in Chief, NRAWomen.com