“It’s a dangerous world,” 10 Things Women Should Consider Before Purchasing A Firearm asserts. “More and more women are turning to firearms to protect themselves from things that go bump in the night. But if you’re a female looking to purchase your first handgun, what should you know before you enter the store?” The excellent advice for newbies provided therein is about as gender specific as a dessert spoon. But it got me thinking: what counsel would I give a woman considering a handgun for armed self-defense? Here are my three pre-purchase questions for the fairer sex on the subject of armed self-defense . . .
1. Do you really want to buy a gun?
Whether at home, at work or out and about, owning a handgun means carrying a handgun. A self-defense gun is either on your person or it’s in a safe. If you can’t get to your handgun quickly and efficiently, you could lose your life attempting to do so—when you coulda/shoulda been running or fighting without a gun.
Everyday (and night) carry is not as easy for women as it is for men, whose clothing styles are as limited as the Model T’s color palette. There’s a carry system for every type of woman’s outfit–as faliaphotography more than adequately demonstrated some two years ago. But finding, testing and using a number of holsters for a number of looks requires a serious investment of time and money.
Many women are squeamish about carrying a gun around children, on both a practical and philosophical level. Obviously, men are also intimately involved in child care; they have to get past the same psychological barrier. But genetics mean that women (a.k.a., primary care givers) consider the carry-a-gun-around-kids question from a different perspective. And consider it they should.
One more thing . . .
Many men want their female partner to carry—or at least have access to—their own self-defense firearm. Nothing wrong with that. But given the level of commitment needed to carry a gun effectively—thought, training, money, etc.—no woman should be pressured into the decision to bear arms. Gently led, sure—including a discussion of the associated responsibilities. Pressured? No.
2. Revolver or semi-automatic pistol?
Normally, the choice between owning revolver or a semi-automatic pistol focuses on each system’s comfort, reliability and ease of operation. While that’s certainly a conversation worth having—preferably after a day at the gun range shooting examples of each prior to purchase—women should factor in another element: rape.
Since only a small percentage of acts of sexual violence are brought to the attention of the authorities, it is impossible to compile accurate statistics. There are nevertheless statistical estimates published by some official bodies. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997) estimated that 91% of United States rape victims were female and 9% were male, with 99% of the offenders being male and 1% of the offenders being female.
If you press the muzzle of a semi-automatic handgun against an aspiring rapist the pressure can move the pistol’s slide backwards, putting the gun out of battery. In other words, it won’t work. A revolver can be fired with the muzzle in contact with an aggressor’s person. Given that rape is a close contact crime that often involves a rapid (i.e. surprise) attack, a revolver may be the better choice for a woman.
3. One and done?
As I pointed out here, small guns are not great starter guns. Larger/heavier guns allow new shooters to master shooting basics before taking on the particular challenges (e.g. recoil) of a smaller, more concealable firearm. That’s true for women in particular, who are generally smaller than men, particularly when it comes to hand size.
Is the new female shooter willing to buy two guns; one for practice only, one for practice and carry? If not, if it’s one and done, they should purchase a handgun that splits the difference: big enough to fire comfortably (and accurately) and small enough to carry (even if it’s just in the house).
If they are willing to see their first purchase as a stepping stone, it may be best to purchase a firearm that belongs to a family of [virtually identical] handguns in different sizes and calibers (e.g. Ruger revolvers, Glock semis). That way the shooter can add a gun without having to master new ergonomics.
I don’t see many important differences between male and female gun ownership. None that would mandate (so to speak) a fundamentally different approach in terms of equipment, training or technique. But there are some distinctions worth making. What did I miss?