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 Paxton Quigley at the Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot [NB- No Charlton Hestons were injured in the making of this photograph] (courtesy

by Major Van Harl USAF Ret [republished with permission from]

Whether we like to admit it or not, women have always been and always will be the victims of violence, in most cases at the hands of males. The sad history of warfare is the destruction of the enemy and the subjugation of their women. Size has a lot to do with it. Men are larger than women and even smaller men tend to be stronger than women. There is an old western saying, “God did not make all men equal, Colonel Colt did,” Colonel Colt as in Colt handguns. The smallest person can stop the largest person with a well placed shot from a firearm, male or female . . .

I received a book entitled Staying Alive – Armed and Female in an Unsafe World written by Paxton Quigley. By her own admission, Miss Quigley was a liberal thinking woman with a Masters Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her attitude changed after a friend was viciously raped. This change of attitude towards gun ownership after experiencing personal violence is not uncommon in both sexes. Prior to my military career I worked in a large gun shop forty miles north of down town Chicago.

As far back as the early 1970’s the State of Illinois had strict gun laws that included a waiting period from time of gun purchase, to the time you could actually take the gun home. People would come charging into the gun shop right after a robbery, assault, or rape and want a gun that very minute. They did not want to learn to shoot the firearm on our range; “just sell me the gun now” was what we heard.

It amazed me how many people did not want to even buy a complete box of ammunition. If the revolver held six rounds of ammo why did they need to buy an entire box of 50 shells? These are not the people, in that state of mind, who should be walking out of a gun store with a new purchase.

Miss Quigley’s book is about being prepared to meet and properly react to the dangers a woman faces in this unsafe world. Nothing says “no” to an assailant more forcefully than a loaded firearm in the hands of a well-trained female shooter, who is prepared physically and psychologically to escalate the violence, in the defense of herself or her family.

Let me state up front, from both Miss Quigley’s position in her book and my position from years in law enforcement, do nothing illegal with a firearm. If you plan to own one, buy it legally, transport & shoot it legally, and defend yourself & family in a legally prescribed manner. Proper training is the key to a woman correctly and effectively learning how to shoot and carry a firearm for protection.

From my experience in firearms training women tend to be easier to teach how to shoot. They don’t come to this new activity in their life with the pre-conceived ideas about firearms that men tend to. Every male knows if you have seen a John Wayne movie, then by-thunder you know how to use a manly firearm. Praise the Load women do not approach first time exposure to firearms the same way men do.

Find a firearms range with a qualified instructor and take a class. Shooting is not a cheap activity, but then your life comes at a very high value to you and your loved ones. You are lucky if you live in a state that allows law abiding citizens to qualify to carry a concealed firearm. It is only this year (2013) that the State of Illinois, “the last hold-out state” has enacted a concealed carry law. Remember all State’s concealed carry laws are not created equal.

My daughter turns 21 in a few short weeks. She will have her concealed carry training class finished prior to her birthday. On the 21st anniversary of her birth she will mail in her application to the State of Wisconsin to carry a firearm concealed. The Colonel and I mailed in our concealed carry application the same day shortly after moving to Wisconsin.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
[email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret. is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

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  1. “… do nothing illegal with a firearm. If you plan to own one, buy it legally, transport & shoot it legally, and defend yourself & family in a legally prescribed manner.” — Major Van Harl

    Yeah, that’s great unless you live in a state that criminalizes citizens for having firearms at all much less firearms in public.

      • The “move” comment is just silly. Many of us are businessmen with large lists of established LOCAL clientele, with families who love their schools and communities. While walking away from everything on one issue is an easy anthem to repeat for you(i.e. vote with your feet) I hardly think places like California are paying attention or they would have received the message loud and clear long ago.

        Why not fight the darkness that threatens our freedom from where we are now?

        Why not support those who are fighting that fight rather than dismissing them casually as if they don’t matter?

        On the other hand, how can you defend yourself legally when the state is bound and determined to make you into a felon by passing ignorant legislation? How do we find balance between the idea of remaining a law-abiding citizen while still maintaining our right to defend our family, faith, and freedom?

        • The problem is that Californians ARE voting with their feet! They already screwed up that state and are moving to places that are as of yet, not ruined. They transport their bad policies and politics and infect the states they move to. Their mindset is a virus.

        • It’s been a long time since any mainstream faith needed defense by gun — at least in North America, apart from Quebec.

          Minority faiths, on the other hand, still do.

    • My thoughts exactly. “Do not defend your life until – I mean UNLESS – we authorize you to do so.”

  2. “The Colonel and I mailed in our concealed carry application the same day shortly after moving to Wisconsin.”

    What Colonel would that be…? Musta missed sumpthin’.

  3. Achtung an alle Kalifornier, New Yorker und wie!

    L.A.P.D. chief of police Daryl Gates went on record with the [as near as I can remember] following in the mid ’80s:

    “About concealed handguns, while I can’t make them legal, we’d [the cops] much rather that we caught you with one than that a bad guy caught you without one.”

    Pretty strong words for a chief of police, eh? He got it.

      • Perhaps. There were cases in which the police “lost” evidence, or the D.A. didn’t think a case “worth” prosecuting.

        We do the best we can in a fu¢ked-up world.

  4. Bacon says that Californian mindset is a virus. Do you really think you know how everybody over here thinks? BS! There are a lot of people in this state that have been maligned because of those in L.A. and Frisco and Sac. If you have ever been to the rest of CA you will know that millions of people don’t buy into their BS.
    Fact is you don’t have to worry about LA type people coming to a place near you anytime soon. They like things just the libtard way they are. The rest of CA will fit in just fine most anywhere. Some of us are even trying to secede from the rest of CA. Probably never happen but it’s a nice idea. Me…I get most of my values from TX. Check out the central coast of CA, you might be surprised.

    • I’ve lived in CA several times, and keep getting called back to Ohio, despite my best efforts. I agree that telling people to move to another state is flippant and unrealistic. I also agree that calling all of California the land of fruits & nuts is painting with a broad brush, though I understand why it’s been done for so long. However, I have met some of the most liberal people right here in Ohio, and I have met many a Californian who would surprise us all and hold conservative, family values. I wish they would rise up and toss out their radical politicians on their butts! Getting past the voter fraud and the electronic voting machines is tough all over the States.

    • Gloria’s old and ineffectual. Anyway, Gloria was flat-out CIA; it’s very well-documented. Just like the hippie movement, the feminist movement was an attempt to destabilize American society.

      It worked pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

    • SR, I’m really surprised you think this way and even more surprised you thought it was a worthy comment considering the article is meant to help women decide they want to know more about protecting themselves with a gun.

      • You’re being too polite. Why don’t you just call me a Neanderthal and get it over with.

        I’ve seen too many women mincing and shying away as if they thought the gun would explode in their hands, and that impression has never left me. You want to pack a gun, I’m all for it. I love a real woman shooter, but spare me the sanctimony and offended dignity. My comment was entirely humorous.

        Side note: Science has proven that a true sense of humor is linked to the Y chromosome, so I don’t blame you for not getting it.

  5. “Praise the Load women do not approach first time exposure to firearms the same way men do.”
    (Fix the glaring typo in this line, and delete the comment to save face if you wish.)

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