A recent exchange about women in gun culture I was drawn into over at Gun Free Zone reminded me that I have a few more things to say about the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo (CCX for short) I attended last month in Atlanta. (Access my brief end of day reflections here, my observations on the “gun industry” here, my coverage of the Concealed Carry Fashion show here, and my experience shooting at the CCX here.)
In particular I have some things about women and guns.
Although the star of the CCX is the exhibit hall – where women entrepreneurs played an important role – there is also a full schedule of seminars offered throughout the weekend. Unlike the exhibits and fashion show, many of these seminars are open to the public.
One seminar I attended was “Why Women Hate Guns: Encouraging Women to Accept, Own, Use & Carry Firearms.” The seminar description promised that “Beth Alcazar will share statistics, explanations, and personal experiences to help shed light on the reasons why numbers of women don’t shoot, why they don’t have firearms, and why some even hate guns…all with the goal of uncovering mistakes and dispelling myths and providing suggestions and solutions for getting more women involved.”
Beth Alcazar is a senior staff writer for the USCCA and the public figure known as “Pacifiers and Peacemakers” on Facebook. She describes herself as “a mom, just a mom with a gun,” which she demonstrated quite well at the Concealed Carry Fashion Show later that night.
As I noted in my Day 2 Brief Report from the CCX, I was a bit disappointed that the room was not full for this seminar (as other seminars were). It was notable that 40% of the 75ish people there were women, but Alcazar’s presentation seemed more addressed to the men in attendance than to the women. And that when she asked for audience input, the men were more likely to respond than the women.
Alcazar discussed 11 reasons why women hate guns. I caught 10 of those reasons, which I list below:
- Fear, largely due to misunderstanding about firearms.
- The media tells women they should hate guns.
- You (i.e., men) pay too much attention to your guns (and, correspondingly, too little to your women).
- You treat guns as “guy stuff.” For example, gun stores and ranges scream “Guy World.” (This was the source of my row about women and guns over at Gun Free Zone mentioned above.)
- You try to “teach her” about guns.
- [I missed this one.]
- Gun stores and ranges are not woman-friendly. The “women’s section” amounts to “2 pink guns, a Swarovski crystal, and some bullet jewelry.” And the bathrooms are disgusting (see also Kathy Jackson on this same point).
- They (i.e., women) do not have a gun of their own.
- You bought the gun for her. (Funny analogy here to the fact that a man would never presume to buy a pair of jeans for a woman, but have no problem buying something that needs to fit her unique person just as much.)
- They have had negative experiences with guns. (Their boyfriend having them shoot a 500 S&W revolver perhaps?)
- They don’t know about resources available to support women in shooting.
(#11 provides a nice segue into a second panel on women I attended at the USCCA CCX about which I will post tomorrow. Stay tuned for that!)
Given this diagnosis of the problem, Alcazar spent some time talking about what can be done to make things better. Like her diagnosis, her solutions were largely directed to the men in attendance:
- Don’t force her to talk about or shoot guns. Invite her. Make it fun. Have a date night.
- Encourage but don’t rush her.
- Be kind, helpful, and supportive. Don’t get frustrated.
- Discuss expectations about what shooting is like.
- Practice dry fire.
- Start with a small caliber (i.e., not a .50 cal.).
- Let her shop around for her own gun and see what is out there.
- Don’t overwhelm her with too much information.
- Ask her for feedback and questions.
- Help her find a class.
- Emphasize camaraderie not competition.
- Treat her as equal but not the same.
Of these solutions, I think the last one is quite profound.
A lot of people who hear the words “gender equality” think it means that there are no differences between men and women. But the language of the Declaration of Independence — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal” – does not mean that we are all created identical.