The decision to carry a loaded gun is, in my humble opinion, a good one. An empowering one. One that all women should consider. But there are a three things women should think about before they jump into guns as their primary self-defense tool . . .
1, Know the Four Rules of Gun Safety
Know them well. Practice them at all times: at the range and off. Failure to do so can result in tragedies that are incomprehensible. Follow all the rules, of course, but there’s one Rule to rule them all: never point a gun at anything you’re unwilling to destroy. If you feel that you are unable to follow this rule, do not buy, own or handle a gun. If you think you might be able to, limit gun handling to those times when you are supervised by a safe gun owner – until you’re sure you have proper “muzzle discipline.”
[NOTE: I know this applies to any new shooter, regardless of sex. But I can’t emphasize this enough.]
2. Make sure you’re willing to use deadly force
Most boys play with toy guns from an early age. They role-play the idea of deadly force, becoming comfortable with it on the subconscious level. Most girls do not. It is imperative that a woman carrying a gun be mentally prepared to use deadly force – should they or other innocent life face the threat of death or grievous bodily harm (when it is legal to threaten or use deadly force).
The best thing to do: go through situations in your mind where you’d be willing to shoot another person and potentially take their life. Every woman will be different in her assessment of dangers. Some will consider the danger of rape sufficient to use their gun. Others may not. Your personal decision is not right or wrong per se, but a gun is a tool that you must be ready to use to its fullest extent.
Along those same lines, look around your house. (Home carry please!) Imagine firing a bullet toward an intruder. Look around, and understand what pulling the trigger in your home could mean. Could it go through a wall and hurt a neighbor? Or heaven forbid, one of your own family members? Think it through.
If you’re not prepared to take another life, don’t carry a gun. In that case, you run the risk of having your gun taken and used against you or other innocent life. Also, carrying a gun you’re not prepared to use may prevent you from using non-lethal methods of self-defense.
3. Purchase proper gear
Men’s bodies are different from women’s. A carry system (gun and holster) that works for a man may not be comfortable or efficient for woman, considering her hand size, grip strength, and/or choice of clothing. Base your decision on your body type and where you want to carry for optimum comfort or concealment, no matter which system you choose. Understand that you may need several different types of holsters to carry in different kinds of clothing. Also, keep in mind that trial and error is part of the selection process.
TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have repeatedly – and correctly – warned women not to choose a firearm based solely on advice from male significant others or male gun store employees. I’m not saying they’re always wrong. But there is a high likelihood they will be. There’s only way to know if a particular gun is right for you: try before you buy. Do not buy a gun before test firing it at a range. You may well need different types of guns for different carry options, depending on your wardrobe.
Again, the same advice applies to new male shooters. But women must pay particular attention to their gear selection – given the physical and lifestyle differences between themselves and male newbies. Of course, women share the same goal as men: to carry the most efficient tool for self-defense. And that’s a gun.