Open Carry for Women – Fashion Accessory or Empowerment Tool? (Female Gun Owner Series – Part 3)

    Woman with Galco holster

    Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

    Ah, the great Open vs Concealed Carry debate! Even the most blasé firearms conversation turns into a spirited discussion when the topic of “open carry” is raised.

    SURELY in this day and age of the Independent Modern Woman, we can all agree that IF she carries at all, it should be concealed in a special “concealed carry handbag” or pretty thigh holster, right?

    I mean, no self-respecting woman would be caught in public carrying a firearm in the open, right? She’s just ASKING for trouble, right?


    If anything, a woman SHOULD open carry…assuming she’s had the proper training and is ready and able to use the firearm safely and correctly in a defensive situation.

    Woman holding child with gun in her waistband

    Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

    To Be a Victim, or Not To Be a Victim. THAT Is The Question!

    Most instructors in rape-prevention classes nowadays will tell you that the best way to avoid becoming a victim is not to put oneself in the situation, to begin with. Most of the time that begins with SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.

    It means looking a man in the eye when walking down the sidewalk or hallway instead of averting your eyes or looking at the ground as you walk past him.

    It means walking with purpose and authority, even if you’re just in the grocery store or in an elevator.
    It means being aware of your surroundings when walking to your car (what types of cars or vans are parked next to me? Is anyone in them? Is anyone walking behind me?)

    Case in point: several years ago, while walking to my car in the back of a large parking lot, suddenly a man appeared from between 2 parked cars, claiming to be an “ex-Marine” (should have been my first warning – there’s no such thing). He was in need of cash as his car had been burglarized.

    I reached into my purse, grabbed all the change I had, and put it in the palm of his hand! (He was very convincing.)

    After the store security had run him off, I couldn’t figure out why I was shaking so badly. It occurred to me – I’d taken my eyes off of a complete stranger who stood just a few feet from me, opened my purse, and then put myself within TOUCHING distance of him.

    Any woman reading this is probably cringing as badly as I did that day. My husband, a true Marine, was furious with me. He knew that I knew better.

    When I obtained my CCW permit, later on, I knew that letting my guard down as I did that day was unacceptable. Non-negotiable.

    But it’s not just my personal everyday carry that I have to pay attention to!

    The same way that I’m more concerned about the actions of others when I’m behind the wheel of my car, I have to be wary of those citizens who feel that they are invincible just because they holster their EDC!

    Woman holding gun

    Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

    Bippity Boppity BOO!

    As a gun store owner, I see women every single day (or their spouses) who come in to perform a background check and inform me that the firearm they’re purchasing will be for concealed carry.
    If I inquire about training, they always tell me they’re “taking the class to obtain their permit”.

    As if the mere act of carrying a firearm will keep them safe. That it’s some sort of magic talisman that will ward off all known enemies solely by its presence in her purse.

    Once the background check has been successfully passed, I know that the likelihood of me running into them at the range is slim. Why? Because they’ve qualified for their handgun carry permit and now they don’t need muscle memory, daily draw practice, point of aim/point of impact repetition, or to actually verify that they can pull the trigger and accurately hit the target under duress.

    Much the same way that piece of candy that falls out of its wrapper and into the abyss of the bottom of her purse, the firearm is all but forgotten. It becomes as much a part of their purse as extra lipstick or a spare Bic pen.

    Wanna guess what happens next?

    The lubricant used after cleaning most likely attracts all of the lint and dust causing the firearm to more-than-likely misfire rather than function properly, rendering it useless if she actually needs to shoot it in a self-defense situation.

    …Or the firearm stays in her purse in the grocery store cart while she casually walks away from it to get something off the shelf…out of arm’s reach if she needs it (“It’s just to grab that one item, right?”)…or even worse, easily within reach of anyone passing by the cart while she’s otherwise engaged.

    …Or she keeps her back to complete strangers for fear of hurting anyone’s feelings – whether she knows them or not (“I don’t want them to think I’m judging them.”)

    Yes, I realize that there will be some who will read this and think, “My wife is a complete badass, always aware of her surroundings.” That would make her the exception, not the rule.

    The majority of women I meet in MY gun store, or see out and about in public, carry the gun to feel safe – but pray to God they never have to use it because they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to.

    What’s the alternative?

    Woman standing at window with a gun holstered on her hip

    Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

    The Price of Open Carry

    My Glock 42 is highly customized. I have a handpainted python holster from Dragon Leatherworks. My husband is in the process of Cerakoting it to highlight the subtle tones in the holster, adding fiber optic sights, and of course, a trigger job.

    Why am I going through all the trouble of making my G42 stand out as much as possible? Because I WANT people to see it on my hip. I WANT people to know that I’m carrying.

    In fact, I want THEM to know that I KNOW that they see it.

    It’s not a secret. It’s not singling me out if danger rears its ugly head. (“Won’t the criminal go for the guy/gal with the open carry gun first?” Not likely.)

    It’s me showing the world that I am not a victim. That if the situation calls for it and the “bad guy” is looking for an easy target – he won’t find one here.

    The Marine Corps taught my husband a phrase, “The price of enduring freedom is neverending vigilance”. And that’s exactly what I pay for open carry – the PRICE of freedom.

    I never forget that everyone can see my firearm.

    I don’t idly brush it with my hand or adjust it once I’ve gotten out of the car and am in sight of other people.

    I do not leave it in a bag that can be snatched from my shoulder or left in a shopping cart while I grab something off the shelf. In fact, I don’t even reach high or low on a shelf in the store without checking my surroundings first.

    I know exactly where my gun is and trust with 100% conviction that it will fire every single time.

    Fashion accessory for some.
    Magic talisman for some.
    Empowerment tool for some.

    Protection for me and my family. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.

    Glock 42 in custom holster

    Rachel’s Glock 42 in a custom holster from Dragon Leatherworks.

    Rachel Y

    Rachel Young is a 4x Best Selling Author. She and her husband John co-own an FFL/SOT showroom and machine shop in Tennessee, specializing in ARs, AR parts, and AR accessories.