Reader Rebecca Platt writes . . .
I was seven years old when I had my first experience with a gun. My father was target shooting with some friends and asked me if I wanted to try. His stable hands enveloped mine as I tried to grip the handle of a Colt Trooper .357.
Ear protection in place, I squinted one green eye like the cowboys on TV and, with dad’s help, pulled the trigger. The deafening kick was shocking. I still remember the immediate fear and respect for an object so powerful.
I was 12 before I experienced another firearm. We lived out in the country and occasionally a water moccasin would make its way to our yard. After many gun safety lectures from my parents and some tin-can plinking, I became decent with a .22 rifle.
As an adult, I now own the beautiful Colt Trooper revolver that jarred me all those years ago, and my husband has outfitted me with a few more pistols for my personal safety.
There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of new first-time gun owners just since the beginning of this year and a large percentage of them are women. Here are four pieces of advice I’d offer to women who are acclimating to their new piece.
Take a Gun Safety Course
Even if you don’t plan to carry your gun concealed, please take a gun safety course. It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you think you are, take the course. Listen to other people in the class (especially law enforcement) about gun safety and the laws in your state. It will help shed light on your new adventure with the Second Amendment. You’ll hear fresh perspectives, feel positive encouragement, and gain practical skills in how to store, conceal, and utilize your weapon.
To locate a gun safety course or conceal carry licensing class in your area, do a little Googleing or call your local law enforcement agency. The fee for the basic safety class is usually between $25 and $50. The instructors are frequently local law enforcement officers with extensive experience in handling firearms.
I took my course on a Saturday morning and enjoyed every minute of it. After the classroom portion, we gathered outside at tables with officers to help us load, properly grip and aim our guns properly. After firing a few rounds and getting questions answered, each participant was given a packet of information to fill out along with a certificate of completion.
If you want to graduate to a concealed carry permit, you’re off to a good start. Classes and requirements differ from state to state and can run anywhere from about $50 to $150. If the safety certificate of completion for gun safety is all you desire, congratulations, you did it!
No one leaves the hospital with a new baby without making sure the child has everything it needs to thrive at home. The same goes for a new firearm. (I know, I compared a baby to a new gun. Just hear me out.)
Your gun is going to need equipment and care if it’s going to serve you well. A gun is useless without ammunition, and it’s important you get the right kind. Do you have a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol with a magazine? Is one magazine enough? (My husband bought me two more for my birthday, so the answer must be no.)
Do you have enough ammunition for practice and protection? Where can you get good ammunition at a decent price (that’s not easy right now)? What IS a decent price? Did you know guns need to be cleaned after each use? Do you have a gun cleaning kit? Do you know how to safely clean a firearm? Do you have a proper lock for your gun? What will you store it in? These are things you need to think about, preferably before you brought your “new baby” home, but if you didn’t, start preparing now.
My advice is to find someone you trust who is careful, confident and has experience with firearms. They will be able to steer you toward the best resources like gun accessory shops, cleaning techniques, and facilities to practice shooting. Seek out other women and connect over coffee and target practice at the range. (Then contact me, because I want in!)
Go On Dates
…with your gun. I don’t mean take your gun when you go on dates with other people. Unless you feel you need to. To which I say “girl, you deserve better.” What I’m saying is, get to know your gun like you get to know potential mates. Become intimately acquainted with everything your gun can do.
Does it have a safety? Do you know where the safety is? Can you engage and disengage the safety without fumbling and unwittingly aiming it at people? (Yes, that was me at one time, and yes I got yelled at.) Can you load it quickly and smoothly? Do you how your gun works (its “manual of arms”)? I have a .22 revolver that requires the hammer to be half-cocked in order for the cylinder to release for loading. It’s different from every other gun I have.
I only know that because I “dated” my gun. I took it to a range here in Georgia and I spent a whole weekend getting to know that one gun. See, it sounds like dating doesn’t it?
Why do I press so hard on getting to know your gun well? Because you want to be able to rely on it if and when a criminal is coming through your window. That’s not the time to aim, pull the trigger and…realize you haven’t released the safety.
Know where the safety is (if your gun has one), flip that switch and pull! The goal is confidence. A predator can tell if you’re brandishing a gun for the third time in your life. But if you’ve taken the time to empower yourself through safety courses and lots of range time and practice, your assailant may begin to rethink things.
Each gun has its own weight, quirks, and action (how the gun fires). Get to know yours. Pay attention to its personality. Love it and treat it well and it will take good care of you.
It’s The Perfect Accessory For Every Outfit
If you leave your phone at home, how can you text, check Insta or take selfies later? The same goes for your gun (assuming you have a carry permit). A gun left in your drawer at home is no good to you when some mouth-breathing tweaker decides he wants your purse while it’s still on your arm.
We have seen attacks on people in movie theatres, churches, grocery stores, schools, and various random public places. Those are enough reasons to strap on your most important accessory with every outfit. When choosing your firearm, think about concealment in terms of your wardrobe and where you feel it is most comfortable and invisible on your person.
Amazon has affordable ankle, leg, and waist holsters made of neoprene and velcro. There are also tank tops with hidden compartments between the breasts or under the armpit for maximum concealment. They take some getting used to, so give it trial runs around the house, walking the dog, or making quick trips to the store.
Guard against publicly adjusting, posturing weirdly or fidgeting with your weapon. The idea is to be as discreet as possible. Being a woman with a weapon already makes you a dark horse in terms of being armed. Don’t squander your opportunity to leverage some power in a dire situation by inadvertently revealing that you’re carrying a firearm.
From one woman to another, I commend you on your brave decision to arm yourself. Whatever your reason may be for purchasing a gun, rest easy in the knowledge that it’s your constitutional right and it is God-given right. Even the Bible encourages personal safety and proper boundaries when it comes to physical well-being.
You don’t have to be a firearm aficionado on all makes and models. You just have to be an expert on YOUR gun. Take the time to become competent and comfortable with it. After you do, I can’t begin to explain the feeling of power and self-confidence you will begin to feel.
Stay safe, ladies.