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Lindsay McCrum has certainly gotten some ink – and no small number of electrons – for her coffee table book, Chicks With Guns. The photography is nicely done, if not imaginatively composed. Check out a few rigidly, repetitively posed examples. But as anyone who knows much about guns is well aware, McCrum’s “discovery” isn’t terribly Earth-shattering. That women know, use and love their gats is, of course, only noteworthy to people who figure the ranks of gun-owners is confined to bitter clingers and backwoods sister-humpers.┬áBut checking out the 35 snaps Life has compiled at Barrel Fever: Women and Their Guns is a useful reminder that chicks have been into their guns pretty much since the flintlock days. And maybe it’s just me, but the photojournalistic style of most of Life’s pics drives that point home in a way that McCrum’s glossy, Liebovitz-inspired style just doesn’t.

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  1. I was at the range the other night and the men were out numbered by women for the first time that I can recall. I hope this becomes a pattern because it can only help all gun owners.

  2. The whole thing is just a rip-off. For BETTER photography, BETTER stories, of Men AND Women, see: “Armed America- Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes” by Kyle Cassidy- published in 2007.

    • Here is a link to the “Armed America” books website:

      Better, is highly subjective. I like “Armed America” and I like “Chicks With Guns”. There is no better or worse and stuff like this and even dumb reality shows like “Sons of Guns” can better help normalize guns in the USA.

      They are both on my coffee table. It also helps that I am amature photographer and they give me some great ideas as well.

    • John D: I agree – I think Chicks with Guns suffers from somewhat lazy art direction. Except for a handful of rather sublime shots, such as the front cover image, the raven-haired western “belle” who sadly goes unnamed, and a handful of others, it does pale next to Armed America – the backgrounds are too generic, and the poses are too stiff and formal.
      Kyle Cassidy’s book somehow captures the essence of his subjects. Having met one of them – Ry Jones – in real life, it reinforces even more how good of a job he really did.
      BTW, I won Armed America in a friendly bet with the woman I was dating at the time. She was a bit appalled at my selection (she’s an anti-gunner who nonetheless goes with me to the range and shoots .22 rifles with me – go figure), but kept her word, and bought it for me at the beautiful independent bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.

  3. This just in: Annie Oakley, “Little Miss Sure Shot” herself, was a chick! Yes, she was. All five foot one of her. And that little chick could really shoot.

  4. ” For the times, they are a changin’.” What’s that Robert Heinlein quote about specialization being for insects? Women aren’t fools and never have been, but for a long time many of them have been fooled (and no small number of men as well). That’s changing.

    My daughter was eight when I first took her shooting. We continue to shoot pretty regularly. She knows and respects the rules, she appreciates the trust and confidence that I have in her, and she respects the power and responsibility that she has in her hands. She understands that she is learning to master herself and the tools that are available to her.

    This past week, I gave a talk to my daughter’s fifth grade class regarding preparedness and survival. It was in conjunction with the class’ reading of the book “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulsen; a tale of survival by a 13 year old boy in the Canadian bush after a plane crash. The class was really into the book and part of their assignment was to prepare “survival” kits from stuff they had around the house. They were very proud of their work and the kits that they put together were thoughtful and largely quite good. Many of the students included simulated (often of cardboard) guns in their kits.

    My talk was the day before they presented their kits. The talk covered a lot of ground, as one might imagine. And they asked a lot of very good questions. In the course of the talk I mentioned that I had carried firearms on many of my wilderness trips over the years. I also mentioned that I’m a certified firearms instructor. Being inner city kids and products of the public school system, I was sort of expecting some surprised and perhaps negative feedback from my revelation to them. The sense that I got instead was more like, duh!, your out in the wilderness all on your own, of course you should have a gun with you. I was very glad to get that feeling from them. They seemed to realize that guns are indeed useful and valuable tools in certain circumstances. So, my fellow Armed Intelligentsia, I can testify that not all of our youth have been thoroughly indoctrinated into the inherent evil of inanimate objects and that many of them can indeed think for themselves. Even their teacher (an Africa-American woman) offered no objections.

    We’re winning. Keep up the good work. Normalize firearms ownership and use. Get involved in youth marksmanship programs if you can. Seek out the fence sitters and non-shooters in your personal sphere of influence and take them to the range. Especially take your daughters and nieces, wives and girlfriends shooting and hunting. The fairer half of humanity is our greatest untapped resource; bring them into the fold. Let rationality, empowerment and self-reliance carry the day.

  5. I must know the wrong women. They all are either indifferent to or actively detest guns. However, my observation is that female attendance at gun shows seems to be going steadily upwards. That can’t be bad.

  6. Reminds me of a story my grandfather used to tell: Back in the ’50s, he and my grandmother were moderate-wigs in the magazine publishing world. At a country club business luncheon on of their hosts proudly proclaimed that he’d gotten a double on the club’s skeet range over the weekend. Then he turned to my grandmother and explained in a patronizing tone that a double was when you hit two clays launched at the same time, one with each barrel of your shotgun. She smiled brightly and said “Well that doesn’t sound too hard.” One thing led to another, and the following Saturday they were all out on the range, Beatrice carrying her husband’s shotgun. “Pull! BLAM! BLAM! Gee, that was fun, can we do it again? Pull! BLAM! BLAM!” Four pigeons with four shots. At no time did she mention to the miscreant that her father had been an Iowa state champion shooter (pistol I think) and taught his daughter how to shoot at an early age.


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