I get a lot of messages asking for advice on how to get wives/girlfriends/significant others/daughters/females into guns, shooting, carry or self defense in general. In the past I have tried to give advice. Invariably, I would get responses like, "I did that," or "I tried that," and a follow up story or excuses on why said wife or girlfriend completely rejected the advice.
Then the individual (usually a male) either sends me back a message asking what else he can try or stands there staring at me like surely I have some kind of direct line to God that will some how allow me to pull down the magic phrase that will make his woman go, "AH HA!! I GET IT! Honey, let's go to the range, buy me a brand new $2,000 1911 and enroll me in this weekend's IDPA match. Oh, on the way, let's stop off and file my paperwork for my concealed carry permit."
Let's face it, guys, women are as individual as anyone else. Just like she might have a really hard time getting you to come to Yoga with her every Tuesday night or sit in on her book club dedicated to romance novels, you might have trouble getting her involved in something she is just not into.
I understand that it is hard, especially when we aren't talking about getting into guns as a sport but as a means of self defense. I understand that a man wants to protect his woman or at least provide her with the means to defend herself and it can be exceptionally frustrating when the person you care about does not see firearms as a viable option of self defense. All you want is for that individual to be safe and do her best to protect herself.
But truth be told, even if I had a magic phrase that would get a woman to carry a firearm for self defense I wouldn't use it. Carrying a firearm is an extremely personal decision that comes with many consequences--mental, training, lifestyle, responsibility. Pushing a firearm on someone who is not ready for the responsibility of lethal defense is something I never want to be accused of or a party to.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who are looking for clues that a woman (or anyone, for that matter) might be ready to pick up a firearm for sport if not for self defense.
After so many individuals have approached me asking for my advice I looked back at my own experience and figured out what it was that made me willing to start looking at firearms from a perspective that was different from merely hunting or home defense.
1. An Open Mind
In order for anyone (especially an adult) to be willing to accept anything new into his or her life that individual must be willing to open his or her mind to the idea.
I was a legal adult before I even knew that handguns could be carried by civilians. I found out when my boyfriend at the time (now husband) told me that he was going to a weekend firearms class in order to get his carry permit. After expressing my surprise that such a thing was legal and asking why he wanted to carry a gun I sat back and thought about the practice as a whole. I decided I could understand why someone would carry a gun.
If you are trying to convince a woman (or anyone) to take up shooting as a sport she has to be open to the idea that firearms can be used in a sporting manner. If you want to convince her to carry a firearm as a means of self defense she has to be open to the idea that a firearm is a viable means of self defense. Without that open mind on those matters you might as well be beating your head against a brick wall. You certainly aren't going to get her into guns without it.
2. A Willingness to Try New Things
There is one thing I do not have a willingness to try: skydiving. I have an open mind enough to understand why people could get a thrill from it or even enjoy it. I've even accepted its necessity to certain vocations. For myself, however, unless required to do so as a means to save myself from a fireball crash, I prefer to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground or my butt on the seat of a well-maintained airplane and not free falling between the two.
Because of this unwillingness to even try launching myself from an airplane, it's exceptionally doubtful that you will see me with a parachute on my back any time soon. It stands to reason, then that someone with a similar unwillingness to try firearms might have a higher resistance to entering shooting sports or carrying a firearm as a means of self defense. One has to be willing to try something before they can decide whether or not they will adopt it into his or her lifestyle. In absence of that willingness, you cannot expect a sudden change.
That doesn't mean that someone's unwillingness cannot change, of course, but it's a hurtle that must be overcome. And even if someone is willing to try, it certainly doesn't mean they will jump head first into that new way of life.
I have tried roller coasters at least three separate times. I have now decided it's pointless to try again. Roller coasters are not for me. And sometimes, guns just aren't for some people.
3. A Grip On Reality
No, someone doesn't need a good grip on reality to get into shooting sports. In fact, there are a lot of people who are into shooting sports who have a completely fantastical reality. There are championship shooters or avid hunters who do not believe people should be allowed to carry guns on their persons for self defense. This can be the case for many women as well.
We hear about it from people all the time. You can't read or listen to a debate on gun control without someone, somewhere, saying, "I'm a hunter..." or "I'm a shooter..." or "I own guns but I still don't see why you'd want to carry one."
The reality, of course, is that firearms are a viable means of self defense. There are bad people out there who do bad things to good people for no good reason. They are violent and they are ugly and the only thing that can stop them is a skilled and violent defense. Guns have and continue to be used to save lives and those who cannot accept that do not have an exceptional grip on reality.
But having a grip on reality doesn't just mean accepting firearms as a self defense tool. It also means accepting one's own personal reality.
There are many people who have an open mind, are willing to try new things, understand a firearms viability as a self defense tool but are realistic enough about their own limitations to know the firearm is not for them. These people should be respected for their honesty. Instead of spending additional time trying to convince them they have misjudged themselves they should be encouraged down different avenues of self defense.
I can't make a woman carry a gun or get into shooting sports. I have no magic wand or words that makes a woman more willing to pick up a gun. Sure, there are times when all it takes is a woman seeing a female example to open their mind up to at least trying a shooting sport but that is where my influence ends.
If, after she opens her mind, is willing to give firearms a try, accepts the reality of firearms and their place in her life and then wants some more information.... send her my way. We got something to talk about.