I grew up being somewhat ambivalent about guns.
I knew my dad had a pistol on the top shelf of the cabinet (he didn’t know I knew that). I watched my brother shoot skeet and I’d help him reload shells. That was the total extent of my association with “weapons” during the first 30+ years of my life.
Living in a community with relatively low to non-existent criminal activity, I never thought about nor had the desire to own a weapon. Being a single parent with children and teens in and out of the house all the time, I believed that having a gun was not an option for me.
THE SEEDS ARE PLANTED
Later in life, as crime inched its way into our small community, I became more aware of my surroundings and what was happening or was likely to happen. I began to feel uncomfortable about not having any kind of protection for my girls and myself.
I started to think more and more about owning a gun. I considered applying for a permit even though I knew nothing about weapons, gun safety, what to buy, the mechanics, or what it felt like to pull a trigger.
I learned that to receive a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, you are required to take and pass a handgun class. That alone eliminated me from owning a gun! I would never attend a class just to confirm I was an idiot when it came to guns. I was certain that the only people who signed up for such a class were cops, security personnel, or some “badass” with tattoos who wanted to impress someone.
I felt defeated before I could begin. My only hope of protecting my family and myself at this point was to search for alternative methods of defense: pepper spray, a knife, perhaps a baseball bat would do….
Fast forward several years and I met my husband, who couldn’t believe I’d never fired a firearm and who was also convinced I was totally oblivious of my surroundings and the dangers presented on a daily basis. In fact, for someone who doesn’t believe in luck, it’s the only time I’ve heard him reference luck in any form. “You’re damn lucky nothing has ever happened to you,” or something to that effect.
In a nutshell, I knew he was probably correct. I sucked up the criticism but figured that hopefully soon, I would at least know something about this device that had been taboo to me, but I now wished to possess.
One of our first “dates” was spent with a friend of his on a beautiful farm high in the hills of North Carolina. When we arrived, the friend was on the porch zeroing a sight on a rifle. I was intrigued. I wanted to shoot that gun. I wasn’t afraid of those long guns—it was the small pistols that made me apprehensive. I shot the gun several times. At first I was a little nervous, but that didn’t last long. Soon I was having a blast shooting targets.
CHILDREN AND GUNS
Later on, we were visiting friends with my then 11-year-old daughter. She heard the adults talking about and looking at a firearm and she asked if she could shoot it. I’m sure I came unglued and said “No!” but after several hours, she had been taught basic gun safety, the mechanics of the weapon, and how to fire it properly.
I later learned that my daughter’s first gun instructor was one of the best in the industry when it came to firearms and shooting, someone I grew to have a deep respect for.
The following Christmas, with my permission, my daughter received a gift that included all the most fashionable shooting safety equipment she needed. Fashion is important when you’re 12.
She also received the latest Airsoft rifle and pistol. She is now 14 and has retired her Airsoft guns and enjoys shooting my Glock 19 with me on the range. We practice gun safety in our home, and I no longer fear my daughter being in the presence of a loaded weapon.
If I were to let her visit someone’s home without me accompanying her, I don’t worry about her picking up a weapon, wondering what is so intriguing about this object that no one wants her to have access to, then discharging it and possibly killing herself or someone else. The mystery is gone and she understands the dangers of irresponsibly handling weapons.
But I would ask the people in the home she is visiting if they own guns and if so, I would want to know they have them properly secured. I may not be concerned about my daughter’s practices, but I am definitely concerned about anyone else’s gun safety and training.
If they are offended by my questions, then my child probably shouldn’t be there to begin with. I would expect to be asked the same questions by anyone allowing their child to visit my home.
I have now completed several handgun courses. I own and train with a Glock 19 and recently acquired a Glock 42. I have a concealed weapon permit and carry on a daily basis. I simply decided to do my best not to be a victim.
I consider training and time on the range two of life’s pleasures. Shooting is also something that our entire family participates in and enjoys. We are fortunate that we have several friends who are qualified firearms instructors. We also have a nice range on the farm we live on.
In writing this article, I wanted to address a couple of topics. The first is properly training children. I don’t believe that children should be made to shoot if they do not show an interest. Nor do I believe that simply teaching children gun safety or how to shoot is an excuse to no longer enforce gun safety in the home.
My second and just as important topic is who is doing firearms instruction for women. What if you aren’t trained and don’t know an instructor? Where does a single mom go to receive information so she can make an informed decision on whether or not a gun is the proper weapon for her and her family’s protection? If she decides that it is, where can she receive the proper training without feeling intimidated or dumb? How does a single mom find and gain the skills needed to some day pass that knowledge and training down to her children?
First, see if there is anyone in your network of friends and family who can recommend an instructor for a beginning firearms class. If not, call or visit your local law enforcement agency. Where I live, many departments teach beginner and concealed carry classes. Be sure to explain you’re interested in becoming a gun owner for personal and family protection. Be straight up and tell them you’ve never fired a weapon and would like training in a low-pressure environment.
Lots of gun owners never receive proper training because of the intimidation and competition factors that exist on many ranges. If your local law enforcement agency can’t provide the training or recommend an instructor, take your search to the Internet. Numerous agencies and instructors cater to folks just like you. And don’t forget the NRA—their instructors offer some of the best available basic training.
RESPONSIBLE FIREARMS OWNERSHIP
Criminals don’t seek this kind of advice and training—they don’t care about gun safety or training. It’s the single mom who wants the knowledge to protect herself and her family against these threats.
Simply knowing there is training available—without all the testosterone sometimes associated with “tactical” training—may encourage more people to become responsible gun owners and develop the peace of mind that comes with being accountable for your own protection.
I wonder where I would be on my quest for self-protection had I not met my husband and gained invaluable resources.
Who knows, maybe my luck would have run out….