Annie is an attractive, single mother of two girls who is very pleased to announce that she loves being 40. She agreed to do a non-stereotypical gun owner interview because she has a thing for some guy named Farago. She is currently in an intensive social services Ph.D. program at a public University in Oregon that became a gun free zone a couple of years ago. Before that she was able to carry at school and did so without incident until the rules changed. There have been several assaults recently in her part of the campus. She’s a small-statured woman and worries a lot about her safety, but won’t risk her career by carrying illegally. Between the demands of school and raising her kids, she has no time to protest the unfairness of the situation . . .
Annie has only been a gun owner for about three years. Although she traces her interest in guns back to her childhood viewing of Magnum P.I. and has a sister who shoots pistols competitively, she didn’t have sufficient interest to overcome her scary, masculine image of guns. “I was interested but was never brave enough to tell anybody.”
Even living in Texas for several years with the ex-husband who had a magnum revolver did not make her want to learn about guns. Oh, someone tell RF that she lived in Austin for several years and says it’s the best place to live if you have to live in Texas.
A few years ago she started seeing a man who owned several guns. She felt comfortable with his calm, matter of fact, attitude about gun ownership. It was very important, she feels, that he never pushed her to learn more than she was ready for. She gradually learned the safety rules, became more comfortable and after a while started going to gun shows with him.
Gun shows were great for Annie. “There was no pressure, I could just ask questions, hold them, look at them and feel them without feeling that I had to buy it or do something with it.”
“When I was at one of the gun shows I picked up the M&P and thought, that’s it! I already had my CHL, so I saved up enough money by selling sewing projects to my friends and bought one.”
She now has a Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P Compact as her main handgun and a S&W .380 Bodyguard with a laser for carry when she can’t conceal the 9mm. Normally she prefers small-of-the-back or appendix carry. At first, Annie tried carrying in a bag that was designed for concealed carry, but found that she would sometimes put it down and walk away from it. Not a good thing when you have kids. It was also awkward in school, since she had to keep it with her even when others were putting their bags down.
When she made the decision to become a gun owner, she had to decide how to deal with her children who were in second and fourth grade at the time. She sent away for the Eddie the Eagle and McGruff the Crime Dog DVDs.
“The girls were very interested and picked it up very quickly. I told them they were welcome to ask to see the gun any time. Their fascination lasted about three days and after that is was just ‘whatever.’ I use a small gun safe that is attached to a solid object next to my bed. My guns are either in there or on me. The kids know it’s there, but they never ask about it or talk about it. When it’s just the three of us going out, I’m usually carrying. We are a touchy-feely family so I remind them not to touch the gun. They are totally OK with it, it’s part of their lifestyle and they don’t even think about it.”
Annie comes from an interesting background. Her parents were very liberal hippies in New England, but she moved to Texas and attended college at Texas A&M. Her politics don’t fit into the usual liberal/conservative labels and she dislikes political discussions. I asked for her feelings about the NRA.
“I don’t know a lot about the NRA, but I know they are extremely powerful. I feel they have an unfortunate choice of people presenting their viewpoint sometimes. There is one guy – I don’t remember his name – that has a way of annoying people and polarizing things, which I think is very unfortunate. I’d have to think twice before joining a range that has NRA membership as a requirement.”
Gun control laws: “I think it’s a very slippery slope and there are much better ways to deal with violence. The mental health issue has got to be so much more of a priority than it is. Criminals and crazy people don’t follow the laws. Helping people is so much more beneficial, but guns are an easy target and nobody wants to deal with crazy people.”
I asked if she has any messages for the readers of TTAG.
To women: “If you have an interest in exploring firearms in any way, just do it. Make the effort. Find someone you are comfortable talking to about it.”
To men: “If a woman asks you to help her learn about guns, don’t overwhelm her with information. Don’t try to push an agenda. Create an opportunity for learning. Take it at her pace, let her lead at her own speed. Women see guns as threatening and very manly. It takes a while to get used to the idea and it is very easy for it to be overwhelming. “