Women’s Panel Discussion at the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo

The USCCA is proud to present a panel of experts, ready to share personal experiences and address questions and concerns within the women’s market. The panel will be steered by Beth Alcazar, senior staff writer for the USCCA, and will include three influential women from the firearms industry. For new and experienced shooters and everyone in between, this open and honest discussion will offer participants the chance to pose questions and will encourage women to engage in the firearms conversations that are unique and important to them.

After presenting a seminar on “Why Women Hate Guns” and participating in the Concealed Carry Fashion Show on Saturday, Beth Alcazar returned to the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo (CCX) Sunday morning to moderate a Women’s Panel Discussion.


Unlike Alcazar’s previous seminar, this one required pre-registration (though was also free of charge). That might explain in part why the 80+ seats in the German 1 and 2 suites of the Georgia International Convention Center were only three-fourths full. (About 60% of the attendees were women.)

FYI: The USCCA live streamed and archived the panel discussion on YouTube so you can view it in its entirety yourself.


The panelists included Marilyn Smolenski of Nickel & Lace, Anna Taylor of Dene Adams, Carol Craighead of Crossbreed Holsters, and Cheryl Lavette of the Buckhead, Georgia chapter of the Well-Armed Woman.

Each of the panelists had unique, personal stories about their involvement in gun culture and the gun industry. Carol Craighead, for example, was thrust into leadership of Crossbreed Holsters unexpectedly when her husband died, and soon realized that her own company did not do much for the women’s market.

Although the discussion ranged widely, I thought some of the most interesting comments of the session had to do with the ever controversial “pink gun.”

Hello Kitty Gun

Is this good or bad for women in gun culture? In and of itself, it is neither, the panel concluded. Craighead said she wouldn’t make a pink holster because it didn’t convey the seriousness of carrying a gun. But others felt that if some women want pink guns or accessories, more power to them – as long as that isn’t the primary consideration of the consumer. Or the manufacturers, for that matter. “Shrink it and pink it” is certainly a bad idea if that is done without listening to women’s other needs and trying to meet them. As Taylor put it, it’s not about the pink gun itself but the mindset behind the sale of it.

A second interesting exchange actually had nothing to do with gender. An attendee got up to ask the panel to address the issue of guns from a religious standpoint, expressing her moral reservations about taking someone else’s life. Each of the panelists offered a considered response to the question.

  • Taylor argued it was morally defensible but not in every case. She drew an analogy to what a person would jump into a shark tank for. Your kids? Yes. Your TV? No.
  • Alcazar emphasized that carrying a gun for self-defense does not mean that the first response is to shoot. She encouraged avoidance first, then escape, and defense only as a last resort.
  • Lavette grounded her view of self-defense as a Christian in the Bible.
  • Craighead said she prayed every single day that she wouldn’t have to draw her gun. But she would feel justified in doing so if her life was threatened.

Religious debates over the use of lethal force in self-defense are common, but everyone on this panel was at ease telling the questioner that there was nothing inherently immoral about taking another person’s life.

Related to the convening of a women’s panel in the first place was the launching of the United States Concealed Carry Association’s Women’s Community – an on-line “community of like-minded women” hosted on the USCCA website – who are dedicated to taking control of their loved ones’ safety.”

This description of the community is fascinating, especially if it was written as intended. “Taking control of their loved ones’ safety.” Interesting that this doesn’t say taking control over THEIR OWN AND their loved ones’ safety. We often look to women to sacrifice their own well-being for the well-being of others.

But also potentially interesting that this puts women in the role of armed protector that is often – intentionally or just by default – given over to men (as I’ve noted in some recent TV commercials for guns).

I got thinking that the following modification ought to be considered for the USCCA Women’s Community: “Women who are dedicated to taking control of their own, their husbands’, and their children’s safety”? Why not?


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