I am afraid of guns; they scare me to death. Even in movies or on TV, the sight and sound of the gun being fired makes me tense up. Even though I have handled a gun with trepidation on a shooting range, (my dad is a graduate of Annapolis and he shooter enthusiast), I don't think I would want a gun in my house. Regardless of the statement put out by gun owners that "Guns don't kill people, people do", I still feel that if criminals were unable to get their hands on guns no one would get killed.
Several years ago I was at a friend's house when a financial dispute over some stocks broke out between her and her soon-to-be ex-husband. Though it was only loud shouting and no physical interaction, the police were called by the couple's neighbors. One of the cops took me aside and asked me if there were any weapons in the house.
"Weapons? What do you mean weapons?" I said horrified.
"Guns," he said patiently. "Are there any guns or rifles in the house?"
"God no! This is only a yelling match. No one's going to hurt anyone. No one has any weapons here," I told him.
Looking me steadily in the eyes he simply said, "Miss, we have to know. Anything's possible. We don't want a murder."
Watching the now subdued couple talking quietly to the police, I began to imagine how having a gun in the house could turn horribly ugly in the heat of anger. I was terrified.
To me, guns equal damage or death but I may be one of the few women who feels that way. More women than ever are buying handguns. Sales have increased steadily, nearly doubling in the last decade. Almost five million more women now own guns than was the case less than ten years ago.
The NRA states that, "Gun sales skyrocketed this holiday season and a surprising number of new owners are women." Interesting. Santa has filled your stocking with a gun this year, darling!
The focus on women and guns was always about personal defense; 80 percent of female gun owners purchased firearms for self-protection. The gun manufacturers have a definite eye on the female consumer.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the industry is churning out more products aimed at women. In recent years, for example, pink guns have become more mainstream. What began as a fad, (brightly colored firearms for the little lady) has quickly evolved into top sellers.
But the rising trend isn’t just mere aesthetics. Gun companies like Heizer and Colt have introduced lighter, smaller-frame guns that are not only easier to conceal, (think a small handbag or clutch), but are also easier to handle while still doing the same work of any larger-frame handgun.
While a whistle, a can of mace, or even a Taser are all items that are recommended by mainstream media as ways for women to protect themselves, they don't always work. Nor does acting passively when confronted by a rapist. If your attacker is bigger, stronger and playing on your fear, none of these are going to be of much help. Guns eliminate the strength difference between the attacker and the potential victim. This makes it much harder for the strong to prey upon the weak.
Women who purchase guns and learn how to use them properly and with respect are much less likely to be victims of violent crime. In fact, professor John Lott in his book More Guns, Less Crime says that "By far the safest course of action for a lone woman is to have a gun. A woman who behaves passively in the face of attack is 2.5 times as likely to end up being seriously injured, or dead, as a woman who has a gun."
It doesn't take much common sense to figure out that nothing makes a criminal run away faster than seeing a determined woman holding a loaded gun pointing right at him.
I may not like it but society has very likely made women and guns a necessity. Even I see the reasoning behind knowing how to protect yourself with a firearm. If a gun is what I need then I'm going to make sure I train well and practice my shots. I also know that I have to keep it loaded. Having to take time to load a gun when danger presents itself is ludicrous.
Next week I'm going to begin a course in self-protection and firearms. It is being taught by a former Tennessee policewoman, a tiny 5'2" brunette who says her favorite quote is by Samuel Colt who introduced the first, commercially viable revolver.
"God made men but Sam Colt made them equal."
She says she tells her female students that she amends that statement to:
"God made criminals who attack women but Sam Colt made them equal. A woman with a gun has leveled the playing field, honey!"
I'll let you know how the classes go. I'm still scared breathless of those things.
© 2012 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
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