Over the last week news articles in Olmsted County in Minnesota, and El Paso, Texas have come out regarding the substantial rise in concealed carry permits being issued – with a focus on the fact that an increasing percentage of permit holders are women. It isn’t just Minnesota and Texas, though, it’s all across the United States; the number of women applying for CC permits has been increasing steadily since 2008, but it’s only been more recently that increase has become truly dramatic. In Washington state the number of women getting permits actually tripled in recent years, and in Florida and Tennessee it’s doubled. Oh, and in El Paso? Today there are 8 times more women with CC permits than there were just a few years ago; that’s not an increase, it’s a serious spike. And although an increase in women legally concealed carrying is great – statistics prove areas with good CC have lower crime rates overall from robbery to assault to murder, and millions of crimes are thwarted annually by law-abiding gun owners – I have concerns.
A woman being interviewed about her permit recently admitted the first time she’d ever fired a gun was at her state-required concealed carry permit class, and she wasn’t the only one. In fact, quite a few women fire their guns for the first time during that one-time class, and not all states require the class, meaning there are women with permits and no range time. And although having a permit doesn’t mean they’re carrying, you might be surprised how many are – without any experience whatsoever.
Even the women who visit the range after class often end up only doing so once or twice; the number of women who have told me they’ve only fired their concealed carry weapons on three or four occasions over a span of a year or more certainly gives me pause. After all, there’s more to guns and concealed carry than just getting your permit; that piece of paper – or plastic card if you live in a state like Kentucky – doesn’t give you magical safety and proficiency powers. In fact, the number of women I’ve heard saying a bra holster is a viable way to confuse or startle a would-be attacker is just another piece of evidence when it comes to lacking experience.
Of course, the more welcoming a range is, the more time women will spend there, and the more proficient they’ll become. My home range, TG and G, is fantastic, but there are plenty out there that are less than stellar in their acceptance of female shooters. Many women get excited about guns and get their permits only to hit the range and become disheartened, and although things are certainly improving, the situation hasn’t evened out yet, not by a long shot.
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you should go through proper firearms training before you conceal carry. If you’re a woman, find a range you love and an instructor you mesh with, whether it’s an experienced friend or an instructor at a firearms academy. By all means, get your permit – please! – but make sure you’re capable of safely handling that gun before you start walking around with it. A gun in the hands of a competent shooter during a life-threatening situation can save countless lives; a gun in the hands of a new, untrained shooter during that same situation can be more danger than help.
It’s also sad to note those same articles reference the shocking number of women who go through a violent assault before getting their permits. Many don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves until after the fact, and the reasons behind that logic would take far too long to dissect here. Just think how many women would be walking around today without serious psychological, emotional, and, often, physical, scars if they’d gotten their permits sooner rather than later. If I seem to be contradicting myself, I’m not, I’m simply highlighting two issues of a multitude.
Don’t wait until damage has been done to go looking for ways to protect yourself. You have the right to protect yourself, male or female, and, according to our Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. Put the two together, get the proper training, and become the sheepdog, not one of the sheep.
I hope the number of women getting involved with firearms and obtaining their CC permits continues to increase, but I’d like to see those numbers matched with the proper training. Guys, be part of the solution by taking female shooters seriously and offering solid advice and straightforward, matter-of-fact training tips. There are plenty of women who love guns with a passion and take it seriously, so treat women like one of the guys by making them feel welcome – and wanted. After all, the more legally armed citizens there are out there who are also competent shooters, the safer we all are. Remember, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy – or girl – with a gun.
I’m a girl with a gun – and a CC permit – and proud of it. Is the woman in your life involved with firearms? If so, that’s awesome. If not, what are you waiting for? EIther way, take her to the range, but be careful, she just might outdo you.