Becoming a Safe Responsible Gun Owner
By Karen Butler, President, Shoot Like A Girl
Shoot Like A Girl has been growing the number of women who participate in shooting sports for the last 8 years. We have safely and respectfully introduced women – gun and non-gun owners alike – to shooting pistols, rifles and bows, and educated them on firearms, firearm safety, the importance of the 2nd amendment and our hunting heritage. We take our mission very seriously, and are dedicated to empowering women with confidence. Shoot Like A Girl’s mission is gaining urgency with current world events, and we are committed to creating safe responsible gun owners, promoting the 2nd Amendment and encouraging active participation in elections. This series of articles, “With Rights Come Responsibilities” will hopefully inspire activism.
We are very lucky to live in a country where we not only have our “inalienable rights,” but also fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution. All Constitutional rights are important, but three in particular are intertwined and preserve the “inalienable rights” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – especially for women; they are the right to keep and bear arms, the right to free speech and the right to vote. With these rights come responsibilities – the responsibility to practice safe gun ownership, the responsibility to articulate and advocate for the importance of our rights and the responsibility to vote for candidates committed to preserving our rights.
As we look around the country and witness terrorists attacking us because of our freedoms, criminals stealing our possessions and/or doing physical harm to our loved ones, and politicians who seem to want to undermine the very document that defines our governance, it is no wonder that gun sales are at an all time high. I applaud and welcome each new gun owner, but buying a gun is just the first step in becoming a safe, responsible gun owner. A gun owner is responsible for the use of that firearm and understanding the laws for the area they live or travel to. That includes how the gun is stored when it is not in use, how the gun is used, a plan for use in self-defense in the home and out of the home, practice for proficiency with the firearm, and proper maintenance to ensure good working condition. This may seem overwhelming for a new gun owner, but truly it is not. With the purchase of a gun comes fantastic literature that explains the mechanics of the gun and provides a safety overview. The National Rifle Association has a multitude of courses to teach the skills needed – from basic firearms course, to personal protection in and outside of the home – and the NRA – Institute for Legislative Actionhas links to the laws in each state.
It is exciting that so many women are exercising their right to keep and bear arms, and demonstrating their responsibility through education, practice and planning. We also need to exercise our freedom of speech by speaking out on the importance of the 2d Amendment. Typically, gun owners have an Achilles heel, ironically when non-gun owners voice their opinions, we remain respectfully quiet and realize they have a right to their opinion and to voice it. The challenge is that we can no longer stay respectfully quiet, we must be what I call respectfully vocal role models. Which means we talk about and demonstrate safe gun handling at all times. During CNN’s “Guns in America,” a town hall with President Obama that I participated in, he loosely stated that guns used for self defense by women could be turned on the woman and could kill her children. As responsible gun owners, we know we have safe guards against that happening. Yet again, this is another scare tactic to make guns bad and women gun owners seem like idiots. We must show them that this isn’t true – we must all be respectfully vocal role models and change the discussion in our country by educating ourselves and others, and demonstrating safe, responsible gun ownership.