Thursday, January 10, 2013

Civic Engagement

I sent a version of this letter to each of my state and federal representatives, the governor, and the president.  There has been so much going on recently surrounding the issues of gun control and violence.  I am still trying to process all of my thoughts.  With this, at least I can know that I have done what I can to open dialogue with the people who will be making some very important decisions over the coming weeks and months.  I strongly encourage you to do the same.  Let me know if you would like to use any of my language in your own letters.

Dear Representative,
First of all, I would like to thank you for the work that you do.  I know that you are very busy, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my thoughts.

As your constituent, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you.  I am a 25 year old woman living in beautiful Colorado.  I am a ballet dancer, a social worker, and I am hoping to attend graduate school to become a therapist.  I am also a person who owns firearms.

There are two main reasons that I choose to own firearms.  First, I own firearms because one in five women in the United States will be raped in her lifetime, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.  I am three inches shorter and sixty pounds lighter than the average American male.  I know that if I were to find myself facing an assailant, my life would be in my own hands.  When attacks happen, there is not time to wait for the police to arrive, and I am prepared to protect myself when it is necessary.  I am thankful to have the right to own and carry a firearm so that I can be protected wherever I go.

The second reason that I own firearms is that recreational target shooting is a wonderful pastime that I am able to share with my family and friends.  Practicing target shooting allows us to spend time in the beautiful Colorado wilderness while challenging ourselves to improve our skills through patience, practice, and self-discipline.  It teaches valuable lessons such as responsibility, awareness, and communication.  I enjoy being a part of a longstanding American tradition that has provided enjoyment and challenge for generations.

The fallacy of most “gun control” legislation is that it assumes that people who own firearms are potential criminals.  There are millions of responsible adults in the United States who, like me, own firearms.  The overwhelming majority of these people have not and will not commit crimes involving those firearms.  Yet, there are those who would suggest that taking away the rights and property of these thousands of law-abiding citizens will somehow make crime disappear.  I hope you can see the error in this logic.  Punishing those who already follow the law will do nothing to prevent criminals from breaking the law.  I am not a criminal, nor are vast majority of firearms owners that you encounter daily at the mall or grocery store.  Please remember this when considering future legislation on this topic.  Laws that would take away the rights and property of law-abiding citizens are wrong.  Please focus instead on solutions that address the true underlying causes of violence and crime.

Violence is an enormous problem in our society, and one that must be dealt with.  It is essential that we find effective solutions to prevent any more unnecessary loss of life.  Sadly, violence is deeply rooted in our culture.  There is no one cause, but many nuanced factors that lead to a person choosing to commit a violent crime.  These are the influences that need to be rooted out and addressed.  I can promise you that a person does not become violent because they hold a weapon in their hand.  Violent crimes are only a symptom of larger problems in our nation.  Problems such as the stigma surrounding mental health treatment, people feeling desperate about their lives, or not knowing how to process the overwhelming challenges they face.  While I am not knowledgeable enough to outline all of those problems, I am sure you can understand that progress can only be made through addressing the root issues that lead people to choose to commit crimes.

I urge you to consider, while working through this new legislative session, solutions that will address the root causes of crime and violence.  Please understand that many people will react out of fear, claiming that the mere presence of firearms in our society causes violence.  Recognize the error in this argument.  Firearms have long held a place in American homes and lives, and again, the overwhelming majority of firearms will never be used in a crime.  Firearms are the easy target when people are demanding answers, but legislation against them will not solve the problem of violence.  All it will do is erode the rights of thousands of your constituents.

As a citizen of the district that you have the privilege to represent, I urge you not to support any legislation that would ban specific types of firearms or magazines, or requires any registration or tracking of firearms or ammunition.  This type of legislation ignores the real causes of crime.  Worse, it does so at the grave cost of the rights of thousands of citizens across the state, and millions across the country.  Please support legislation that will actually lead to progress against crime, while protecting the rights that so many have fought for us to enjoy.

As many a wise person has noted, we fear what we do not understand.  I would like to suggest that you experience recreational target shooting with a certified instructor, if you have not yet done so.  It may not become your favorite pastime, but I can promise that you will have an enjoyable and safe time, and hopefully you will gain a greater understanding of why the right to own and use firearms is so important to so many of your constituents.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Belly Band Review (Part 2)

A while back I reviewed the Galco Underwraps Belly Band.  In my first review, I specifically looked at wearing the Belly Band low on my hips.  As some of you might have known, this is not exactly how the thing is designed to be worn.  Really, the Belly Band works best worn on the natural waist.  One of the biggest problems I had with it is that it would tend to ride up when I moved, and low and behold that's because its shape is not really designed to sit on the hips.  If there were a Belly Band with more of a tapered shape, that would probably work better.

So, let's look at how well the Belly Band works when worn on the natural waist.

Comfort:  The Belly Band is overall pretty comfortable.  No big complaints here... The only real problem is that it is not super comfortable to wear while driving.  Note that I usually wear it with my gun just behind my hip; it can also be worn with your weapon in the front.  When I wear it with the gun positioned in front, obviously there's no problem with driving.  In the back it just doesn't quite sit right, but as long as we're not talking long road trips it is a tolerable problem.  I also had some discomfort from the edge of the Belly Band digging in to the top of my hips.  I'm wondering if this problem is related to the fact that the Belly Band is not really designed for a petite female like myself.  I can think of a few changes to the shape of it that would make it more suitable to my figure, but on the whole the comfort was not bad.  I've certainly worn it for the majority of the day without much trouble.  Overall, I give it a 7.5 for comfort.
Concealability:  The main reason I started out wearing the Belly Band (possibly incorrectly) low on the hips is that I thought that position would be more concealable than on the waist.  As it turns out, concealability on the waist was great!  It takes a bit of experimentation with outfits, but I have been able to wear the Belly Band with my LCP nicely concealed under cardigans, jackets, blouses, and even tighter-fitting t-shirts.  I know I've said it before, but layering a tank top under the t-shirt or blouse is a huge help here.  It does a great job of eliminating funky lines!  I'm giving the Belly Band an 8 for concealability.
Confidence:  This is the area where wearing the Belly Band on the natural waist made a BIG difference over wearing it low on the hips.  I felt like the whole setup was very secure, and didn't have to worry at all about things moving around.  The Belly Band itself didn't move at all when I stood up or sat down.  The gun itself even felt more secure in the gun pocket because it was at a better angle than when I wore it lower.  Access might be a little trickier, given the need to move clothing farther to get to the gun, but it wouldn't be impossible.  I'm calling this one an 8 on confidence.
Most days I am using an in-waistband holster to carry concealed.  (I'll be reviewing that soon to let you know why it's my current favorite.)  The Belly Band, though, is ideal for situations in which the IWB doesn't work.  Mostly, I love wearing it when I'm wearing a skirt, or anything that doesn't have belt loops.  It's also super convenient for a quick jaunt to the store, as it's just simple to put on and simple to wear.  I hope you'll try one out!
If anyone knows of a belly band-type setup that accommodates the figure problems discussed above, I would love to hear about it! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quick News: Go Responsible Citizens!

Just wanted to share this news article.  A violent knife attack outside a school was stopped by a quick-thinking, and brave, bystander with a concealed firearm.  This kind of news doesn't get nearly enough exposure.  Props for being alert, responsible, and selfless!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh, Fashion.

Alright girls (and guys), let's talk about fashion.  You know, there's a lot of trends and a lot of fads that come and go.  To some extent, we're all limited by the clothes and styles that are available in the stores at any given time.  That being said, the fashion world is not exactly working to give us clothes that make concealment easy.  In a world where your figure needs to be displayed under skin-tight shirts, and no one actually uses pockets, it can seem like carrying and being stylish don't go together.

Style is all about the right accessories... even the ones you conceal!

Especially women's clothing, yikes.  I recently read an article called "The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women's Clothes."  (FYI, crude humor and language.)  And what do you know, most of the things that baffled that author can also present quite a conundrum for us gals who need to pack a little heat along with our other accessories, too!

For one thing, the article points out, lots of women's clothing is made out of material that is way too thin.  Whether clothing designers do this because they think it looks good, or because they want you to buy more layers, it definitely causes a problem for concealing a gun.  The most obvious problem is the possibility of seeing a black gun through a thin shirt.  Plus, if we're talking thin and tighter, that fabric is going to form itself nicely around your gun, showing off its outline.

Thus, layering!  That author thinks the layering trend is a conspiracy, meant to make us spend more money on more layers.  Which is a definite possibility.  But, layering is also really useful for carrying.  An extra layer adds structure and opacity, and is a super simple way to obscure anything you're wanting to hide.  You'd be amazed at the power of a simple tank top to completely smooth out any gun's outline under a thinner blouse.

You know what I don't get?  Pockets.  And neither does the aforementioned author.  As she points out, lots of women's pieces have ridiculously small pockets, or even fake pockets!

"Sure, there will be unsightly bulges if they put too much in their pockets, but the solution isn't to take them away -- the solution is to trust women to have the common sense to not put a bag of rocks in their pocket. These pockets are just fine for carrying a key or some cash or credit cards, and it's stupid to not give anyone that option because some idiot might try to put, I don't know, night-vision goggles or a piece of cake in their pocket."

... Or a gun.  Actually, the right gun in the right pocket holster can totally be hidden in a pocket, just not any pocket I've ever seen on women's jeans.  Okay, so pockets are not the most essential thing for concealed carry, but it'd be a nice option to have!  Anyone out there in clothing manufacturing who can tell me why we're not allowed to have decent sized pockets in our jeans?

Anyways, the article goes on to discuss the problems of women's clothing showing more skin than men's, how hard it is to find a decent t-shirt, and the lack of "normal" casual clothes.  As annoying as it is, I'm probably not going to start making my own clothes anytime soon, so I have to work with what I've got.

Layering with a tank top is probably my favorite concealment solution, along with wearing cute cardigans and jackets.  Do you have any favorite strategies for making it work?

One last thing, I've learned through trial and error that it is actually much easier to conceal in a lot of "typical" women's clothes than I would have thought.  When you haven't tried it, an inch or two of firearm seems like a lot to hide!  But it's amazing what you can do once you get to know the clothes and the curves you've got!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


There have been several interesting stories in the news recently of people acting in self-defense and succeeding at thwarting attacks.  So often the media covers sensational stories of crimes and violence; it is encouraging to read about ordinary people who avoided being victims.  Imagine how differently these headlines would have read if these people had not had the resolve to defend themselves!

In Oklahoma, a young mother called 911 to find out if it was okay to shoot an intruder in self-defense.  I'd say the outcome is better than the headline "Mother and Son Killed in Home Invasion."

In Pennsylvania, a man was attacked while biking and was able to fight off three teens who were in the midst of a crime spree.  Could have read "Man Killed in String of Robberies."

Just this week, a woman in Florida fought off a would-be rapist near her home.  This incident didn't involve the use of a firearm, but the woman acted in bold self-defense nonetheless.  I'm sure she's relieved to have avoided the headline "Local Woman Raped Near Home."

You see how things can change in the blink of an eye?  The difference between being the victim of an attack and a survivor can be found in the resolve to protect yourself.  Whatever your method, whether carrying a firearm or stomping on a rapist's foot, choose to protect yourself!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"I am a child of the King, I will not be a victim!"

When you make the decision to carry a concealed handgun for self protection, someone will inevitably tell you that you need to do some self-talk.  Go find a mirror, they say, look yourself in the eye, and decide for yourself whether you would be able to pull the trigger and take a life if necessity called for it.  This is a valuable exercise.  It's not saying that you want to take a life, and certainly not saying that you would enjoy doing so, but confirming that if the time comes you would be able to.  Strapping on your holster and loading your firearm are acknowledgement that it may come down to your life or that of a mugger.  The lives of your family or that of a home invader.  It's the moment we all pray will never come, but the one we must be prepared for nonetheless.

As my NRA instructor stated, when you are carrying every conflict becomes an armed conflict because you brought a gun to the fight.  This means that the armed citizen, much more so than the unarmed one, must be cool, collected, and careful not to escalate a confrontation.  It also means that you must be resolved to effectively use that gun if need be.  You see, the situation becomes much more dangerous if you draw a weapon you are not really willing to use.  It is not going to scare the criminal away.  Instead, the assailant now feels threatened, and on top of that, has a gun within their reach.  That's why the conversation with yourself deciding what to do needs to happen before you are ever confronted with a life-threatening situation, so that you can act when you don't have time to think.

Now, if you look in the mirror and determine that you would not be able to pull the trigger, you've made a wise decision.  Knowing that, and choosing other methods of defending yourself could very well ensure your safety better than putting yourself in the dangerous situation described above.

But what gives us the resolve to act as necessary?  How do I know that it is worth it to protect my own life, possibly at the cost of another's?

When I was an undergraduate at a small Christian college, I took a self-defense class. The instructor was a slight, 70-something woman, who quickly had the football players in the class more than a little hesitant to "assist" her with demonstrating self-defense tactics.  At the end of class  each day, she had us repeat a mantra:

"I am a child of the King and I will not be a victim!"

As Christian students, the idea of being "children of God" gave us motivation to defend ourselves.  Knowing that our place and our worth came from belonging to the King meant that our lives were worth protecting, and no one could take that away from us.  Now I know not everyone shares the same philosophy, so replace that with whatever gives you your motivation and self-worth.  I am a mother of two children, I will not be a victim!  I am an American, I will not be a victim!  I am a husband, I will not be a victim!  Even something as simple as I am a worthy human being, I will not be a victim!

Reminding yourself of the source of your intrinsic worth, whatever that may be, gives you a tangible reason to believe that your life is worth protecting.  Hopefully, that will also give you the resolve and confidence needed to know that you are capable of defending yourself and your family if the time comes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chicks With Guns

A friend just sent me this article, and I just have to share it.  Photographer Lindsay McCrum recently released a photo book called Chicks With Guns.

At first glance, that title made me all kinds of nervous.  I’ve seen way too many gun magazines featuring busty, scantily-clad women posing with whatever new gun they’re apparently trying to sell.

And so, the photos in this gallery are surprisingly refreshing.

I love that the photographer says she’s not trying to make a political statement.  She’s not trying to “glorify” or “vilify” anyone.  She simply wanted to learn more about the community of women gun owners, and share that with the world.

These portraits are gorgeous.  It is so positive to see women who could be your neighbors and friends displaying their love of firearms in a positive way.  I may need to buy the book just so I can see more of these!