I recently received (courtesy of the author) a copy of the new book “Concealed Carry For Women” by Gila Hayes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I assisted Gila with some pictures for this book and there is at least one picture of me inside. I've also known her for many years and consider her a friend, which is not a word I use frivolously. Even if I didn't know her, however, I believe my review would be the same because this is a unique and valuable book!)
This is Gila’s third book. Her last effort, “Personal Defense For Women”, was so good that it made my unreserved recommendation list of self defense books. I particularly appreciated her emphasis on the personal responsibility part of the defensive equation, which too few in the field ever discuss. Man or woman, if you’ve never read it you should.
Personal Defense For Women was a generalized book that discussed defensive firearms as one option in the universe of response tools. Concealed Carry For Women, on the other hand, is focused on the particular needs of women who choose to carry a defensive firearm, or who are thinking about doing so.
It’s that “thinking about doing so” group for which this book is especially valuable. Gila goes into some detail about why a woman might want to consider carrying a concealed handgun, what the laws are, and the legalities of when lethal force is warranted. From there she segues into a discussion of gun types, holster types, belts, ammunition, gun purses, some basic information on training and practice, how to dress around the gun, and a whole lot more. It is truly “one stop shopping” for the woman just getting into the world of concealed carry.
There are two chapters which really stood out for me. The first was titled “Interactions With Society: Etiquette For The Armed Woman”. In it, she tackles such things as whether women should tell their (female) friends that they carry, and what to do if that information leaks out despite their careful discretion. She points out that women tend to share intimate details with their friends, but why sharing this particular detail may not be a good idea. As she puts it, “do not confuse telling all your secrets with bonding.” Sage advice for anyone, male or female!
The other is called “Embarrassing Moments For Armed Women”, where she deals with situations where guns were discovered — either through physical contact, or because one fell out of a holster. Frankly, this is something men never talk about; you’ll note that none of my books have ever broached the subject, and when I saw this chapter I slapped my forehead and thought “why didn’t I cover that?” In it, she shares some important lessons for everyone about what to do when your cover is blown.
As I said, there’s a lot more — all written in Gila’s signature style of strong advice delivered kindly and thoughtfully. No one does that better than Gila, and Concealed Carry For Women gets my recommendation for any woman who is considering adopting the armed lifestyle.
Click here to order your own copy of Concealed Carry For Women.
-=[ Grant ]=-
On Monday I brought you the sad tale of a silly article in the Shooting Times Personal Defense 2012 Annual. The silliness doesn't stop with the content, however - the way that the article was presented casts a blot not just on Shooting Times and the author of the article, but on the shooting community as a whole.
The pictures for the article were taken by the author, one J. Guthrie. All of them - several pages worth - were of a youngish bikini-clad woman displaying her wares, along with the guns, in suggestive poses. There was even something for the foot fetishists in the audience: six-inch stiletto shoes. Black, of course, to match the bikini.
Now understand that I'm hardly a prude. I rather enjoy looking at the female form, and have been known to peruse pictures of scantily clad women from time to time.* I’m also not what you’d call politically correct, as my wife will readily attest!
Even with my barely submerged neanderthal tendencies, my first reaction when I saw the article was one of disbelief. Surely, I thought, no one could be that out of touch in this day and age. I was wrong.
I'm sorry to break this to the misogynists out there, but an article on defensive shooting in a gun magazine is not the place for bikini babe pictures. Those kinds of images are a throwback to gun rags of the '70s and '80s, where no effort was made to appeal to (let alone understand) the female shooters in this world. Depictions of women as mere ornaments for the gun are what I'd thought the industry had gotten away from, but the author and his editors at Shooting Times are apparently stuck in a time warp and haven't yet figured out that the rest of the world has moved on.
Now you may be thinking that I'm over-reacting. I thought about that possibility, so I shared this with some people in the industry. They ranged from famous to barely known, male and female, but everyone had the same reaction I did: they thought it was disgusting.
In an age where the industry is finally getting a large cadre of confident and competent women who are both good shooters and terrific spokespeople (think Jessie Duff, Julie Golob, and Randi Rogers - and there are lots more where they came from) the article in question is simply inappropriate. It's particularly ironic that in a self defense magazine (which women should be reading), in an article on .380 pistols (which women do tend to purchase in disproportionate numbers to men and thus need the education), the author and editor would go out of their way to do something so patently offensive to them.
The message from J. Guthrie and Shooting Times is clear: women and guns are okay, as long as they're paired in a superficial and stereotypical manner that trivializes their relationship and doesn't threaten the egos of the male readers. It's sad that the article was written and illustrated the way it was, and even sadder that it was published.
-=[ Grant ]=-
( * - I will admit to becoming more selective as I get older; bleached hair, tattoos and excessive makeup are not particularly attractive to me, but I certainly do enjoy the, uh, other parts.)
Some time ago I railed about how firearms are being sold to women: by adding pink grips to wholly inappropriate guns and peddling them to the “little ladies”. That just frosts me, because I want women to have the same thing that men have: a gun which they can actually use efficiently to deal with a threat. Part of being able to use it is being able to train and practice with it, and a gun that doesn’t fit well isn’t conducive to doing so.
Putting cute little grips on one of the Airweight Smith & Wesson's doesn't make it into a woman's gun - it makes the thing impossible for all but an expert to shoot. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for non-traditional colors and finishes to appeal to a wide variety of shooters, but the gun needs to be right for the job before those final touches are added. If they're all the product has to offer it's nothing but window dressing. And just a little insulting to the intended audience.
As it happens, I'm not alone in my disdain of frippery engineering; Laura Burgess thinks it's silly, too.
Who is Laura Burgess? She runs a marketing and PR firm that serves the shooting, hunting, and outdoor industries - it's one of the top firms in the business, in fact. Laura's a shooter too (as are her family members, who are also active in the industry) and knows a little bit about the subject.
She recently wrote a piece for The Truth About Guns on this trend to "pink it and shrink it" (wish I'd come up with that, but she's the pro.) It's very much worth reading.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Several months ago I read a discussion about teaching women to shoot. In it was this gem (written, obviously, by a male of the species) about what a “woman’s class” should entail: "I would put a greater emphasis on field stripping, taking the gun down and putting it back together. Our society doesn't encourage women to mess with machines, demystifying the gun as a machine instills confidence." This comes from the same mindset that says a really important part of a shooting class is a drawn-out explanation of how the primer ignites the gunpowder and the difference between rimfire and centerfire.
As I've said before, it's silly to think that a woman who has mastered the complexities of driving can't figure out what a slide stop lever does. To take my automobile analogy a bit further, it's silly to think that a woman needs to know how to take an engine apart to "instill confidence" in her driving ability.
Don't get me wrong - if she doesn't have someone who will do the job of cleaning and oiling her gun, she needs to learn to do it herself. The gun has to be maintained, and someone has to do it; it's simply part of shooting. However, to label that maintenance as "demystifying" the gun and "instilling confidence” is nonsense. If she doesn't have confidence from proper training and regular practice, knowing how to field strip her Glock isn't going to give it to her any more than knowing how to replace a crank seal is going to make her a more confident driver.
I think it's more important for her to spend her limited training time and money learning how to defend herself efficiently, how to make the bad guy go away with the least expenditure of her defensive resources, than it is to repeatedly practice the disassembly of her pistol.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Sorry for not having a post on Monday. If you tried to check in, you probably found that the site was down. My hosting company, Dreamhost, experienced a system-wide outage on Monday which took down all of their client sites as well as their own. My site came back up, sporadically, sometime Monday afternoon. It wasn't until Tuesday night, however, that I could actually get access to upload anything. Everything seems to be back to normal (knock on wood.)
First things first: On Monday I taped an interview with Doc Wesson for the Gun Nation Podcast. He'll be playing it tonight on a LIVE streaming podcast episode he's calling "The Wheel Of Love". It starts at 9:pm EDT, and you can listen live at this link. He'll even be taking call-ins (which gives me an idea...)
Yesterday Breda over at The Breda Fallacy posted a little rant about lightweight snubnose revolvers for women. Tam picked it up this morning. I read both and agreed with pretty much everything they said, but I had this odd feeling I'd read it all before. Oh, now I remember! That's because I've written the same thing. More than once. More than twice. Great minds? Well, I don't know that I can claim to have one, but they certainly do. (If you listen to the Gun Nation podcast tonight, you'll probably hear me tell Doc that the snubnose revolver is an 'expert's weapon', not something for a beginner.)
In a previous life I dealt with police reports on a fairly regular basis, and I was always amused at the language and syntax in the writing. One Deputy, who was forever on 'the outs' with his supervisors for not playing the game, was once reprimanded for using the phrase "I watched him...” instead of the more official-sounding "I observed as the suspect..." This memory came back when I read a Miami Herald article about a Florida Highway Patrol firearms instructor who was shot in the derriere by her supervisor. The official report was that the supervisor was 'inspecting' the weapon, which is apparently FHP-speak for "screwing around with". Were I in charge I'd be sorely tempted to allow Trooper Mellow Scheetz ('Mellow'? Seriously?) a penalty kick at her supervisor's privates, just to bring home the lesson, then do some remedial safety training that doesn’t allow for the “but I thought it was unloaded!” defense.
That's it for today. Be sure to check out the podcast this evening!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Kelly Muir at Wrong Woman has put up a blog to discuss the unique aspects of this new self defense program. Called Power Play, I can already tell that it isn't going to be your average self defense blog: her third post talks about serial manipulators and the language they use.
It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. This is something men don't normally deal with, and thus I'd never really thought about such nuances of interpersonal conflict. I've read studies that put the number of sexual assaults where the victim knew her attacker at something on the order of 80%. Now I've got a little better idea of how that happens.
It's this kind of insight that's going to put the holistic approach of Wrong Woman on the map. Mark my words.
-=[ Grant ]=-
This is such an exciting time in the field of self defense study! More and more reality-based courses are being offered, and we're finally starting to see true integration of all the pieces of the defensive puzzle: armed and unarmed, lethal and less lethal.
One the newest and most innovative approaches comes to us from Columbus, Ohio. Kelly Muir, an accomplished martial arts instructor, has put together the first truly integrated and comprehensive self defense course for women. Called Wrong Woman, it teaches intuitive skills across the entire range of response.
The course starts with a Fundamentals class, where the students learn the basics of intuitive skill development. From there they can choose to take classes tailored to their particular interests: unarmed response, use of chemical/electrical tools, and firearms. Many of the classes are offered in both basic and advanced form and there's even a class devoted to risk assessment and decision making.
It's a great new building block approach to personal defense, where everything that's taught has the same basis and progression. As the student's life evolves she can simply 'plug in' the course that best applies to her current or anticipated situations.
My wife, herself a longtime student of defensive shooting, is anxious to take Kelly's course and is just waiting for her to come to the west coast! Those who are fortunate enough to live anywhere near Ohio should get to Columbus and enroll in Wrong Woman. Be sure to check out the Wrong Woman Facebook page, too.
-=[ Grant ]=-
The blogs are alive with talk of women and guns (and not a single mention of the excellent magazine, sadly.) Bane, Giddings, and Andrews have, amongst others, weighed in on the topic.
But there is something oddly...familiar about this whole meme. Could it be because I covered this over a year and a half ago?
-=[ Grant ]=-
Though I’ve made reference to each of these in the past, it’s about time I actually plugged some of the people & organizations that have value to those interested in defense of themselves or their loved ones.
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association's purpose is to educate responsible armed citizens. Members have access to their full website, online forums and one of the best "gun" magazines published today. If I were forced to recommend a single resource for the person who carries a gun for self defense, it would be the USCCA. (Disclaimer: I do write an occasional article for their magazine. Since it's only available with membership, you can't read them if you're not a member!)
The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network started a couple of years ago as a sort of "union" for gun owners. I've heard of many a self defense shooting in which the defendant was facing huge legal issues, and often wondered how they were going to get through the legal process and put their life back together. You've probably seen such cases in the online forums, accompanied by requests to donate to some legal defense fund. The ACLDN serves to pool member's strength to protect one another when one of them comes under scrutiny of the legal system. It's a unique organization, providing a unique service worthy of your consideration.
The Personal Defense Network aims to be the premier source of self-defense videos and articles on the 'net. Less than a year old, PDN is growing rapidly and already has a lot of great content available. The forums are dedicated to self defense issues, keeping the clutter to a minimum. (Disclaimer: I also write articles for PDN.)
The ProArms Podcast continues to have some of the very best in-depth interviews with people in the shooting world, usually focusing on self defense and training issues. If you missed their recent interview with Chicago cop Bob Stasch, a veteran of 14 gunfights, go listen. Now. It may be one of the best they’ve done.
It seems that every time I turn around I’m recommending Kathy Jackson’s website The Cornered Cat. It deals exclusively with women, guns and self defense, and is the very best resource on the ‘net for women who have chosen to arm themselves. I’m not exaggerating when I say “the very best” - there is no other site I’ve seen which even comes close to Kathy’s creation. If you know a woman who is interested in self defense or in firearms in general, but is a bit apprehensive and doesn’t know where to go to find other women with the same interests and concerns, send her to Kathy.
Finally, my interest in shooting and self defense has allowed me to meet some of the best (and most interesting) people. One of them is trainer Robb Hamic, who writes an interesting blog dealing with a wide range of self defense issues. In a recent post he had this gem, one I think that everyone with an interest in self-defense should take to heart:
“I walk around with a smile and I try to be happy but if someone crosses my path that wants to do me, my family or a person that I choose to protect harm; I will do whatever is necessary to keep us safe, based on my perception of danger. Up to and including taking another person(s) life. If it is the only option, I will exchange my life for my wife or children’s life. If I have to fight, I will use every once of aggression, decisiveness and intelligence in my body to overwhelm my attacker(s). ”
-=[ Grant ]=-
The Truth Is Out There: I've mentioned Kathy Jackson's CorneredCat site as the best resource on the web for those women who want to get involved in the firearms world. This week on the ProArms Podcast, Gail Pepin interviews Kathy about one of her all-time classic articles: "How to Make Your Wife Hate Guns." The interview is even better than the article, and is a must-listen for any man out there who wishes for his wife/significant to start shooting.
Guys, I'm not kidding - you need to listen to this podcast. Kathy's interview starts about 20 minutes in, preceded by Dr. Paula Bratich talking about concealed carry in Illinois.
Better Late Than Never: Prior to the SHOT show, The FIrearms Blog reported that Ruger was going to show a .357 version of the LCR. It was only slightly premature, as Ruger showed it off at last week's NRA Convention. Not for me, thanks, but I'm sure that there are those who will love it.
The Bad Guys Have An Advantage: An interesting article over at PoliceOne.com asks "Why do bad guys seem to do so well in gunfights?" Worthwhile reading.
-=[ Grant ]=-
NEW ARTICLE UP - Check out my latest article, Dealing With The Double Action Trigger, at the Personal Defense Network!
COWBOY TACTICAL - Don't know if I learned of this from Tam or Uncle, but it's funny either way! From Cemetery’s Gun Blob:
GREAT INTERVIEWS - The ProArms Podcast recently featured interviews with Gila Hayes and Kathy Jackson, regarding their respective books: Personal Defense for Women and Lessons from Armed America. Highly recommended listening (and reading!)
A LITTLE RECOGNITION - Many people have asked about the site's redesign. The site is built in RapidWeaver; the theme is from Nick Cates Design. Last week I received an email from Nick, who said he was impressed how I'd used his template. He asked if he could feature grantcunningham.com in his Showcase, and of course I said yes! You can see it here.
HOUSEKEEPING - You may notice that the tag cloud has changed a bit. I wasn't happy with how I'd handled the tags, so I erased them and started over. Hopefully what you see now is an improvement in usability.
A LITTLE MORE HUMOR - I ran across this link in my archives, and couldn't resist posting it again: How Gun Magazines Write Articles.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self Protection by Gila Hayes
It is only now that society is beginning to recognize what those of us who've been married for decades know all too well: men and women are different. 'Equal', as it happens, does not mean 'the same', and we are slowly coming to realize this. (Back to the future!)
Because we're different, it's difficult - if not impossible - for a man to understand, let alone sensitively address, the feelings and fears that women experience as they approach the very concept of self defense. "A good man always knows his limitations", says Dirty Harry, and all men have this one. (Any man who believes he doesn't is in denial.)
Recognizing my limitations requires that I refer the women in my life to the best source of information for their personal safety. For the last decade-and-a-half, that source has been the book "Effective Defense" by Gila Hayes. It deals with the gritty details of self defense from that particular perspective only women possess.
Last year, Gila was given the opportunity to completely rewrite her landmark tome, to bring it up to date and expand on many of the topics. The result is "Personal Defense for Women", and I'm happy to say it is even better than the original. That, folks, is saying a lot.
Though the word "defense" is in the title, Gila's book is a comprehensive guide to women's safety, which goes well beyond what we think of as defense. Gila explains: "...I earnestly advocate crime avoidance over fighting, and escape over shooting. Safe housing, safe behavior, and awareness of danger when you're at home, work, in your car or in public, are among the first survival lessons I want to emphasize."
This is evident just by looking at the table of contents: the first nine chapters deal with avoidance, not shooting. Gila tackles things that would be taboo for me to even broach; for instance, the delicate topic of drawing unwanted attention with a revealing wardrobe. She points out that certain activities are inherently more risky than others, and the aware woman needs to acknowledge that choosing some pleasures may carry larger risks than less exciting options.
Gila talks about responsibilities as well as rights, gently pointing out that the self-reliant woman chooses her safety level through her actions. This sounds simple, but as she expounds on the topic the power of that concept becomes evident.
The rest of the book deals with the active defense - fighting in all forms. She starts with information on empty hand defenses, and moves through various less-than-lethal tools before starting a particularly comprehensive discussion about firearms. Gila is a renowned trainer and champion shooter, and her fluency with the subject is obvious. Women just starting out with firearms could not be in better hands. She provides authoritative and clearly articulated information about guns, ammunition, shooting techniques, and even a great exploration of the merits of the home defense shotgun.
One chapter I liked very much was devoted to the use of the Taser, and one very needed chapter deals with dressing around a handgun. (Men have it incredibly easy compared to women, and we always fail to appreciate the difficulties they have concealing a pistol!)
While all the chapters are good, there are a couple of standouts that make it a "must buy": one deals with safety on school and college campuses (including the active shooter scenario), and the other is a sensitive discussion of rape prevention and survival. These are important topics, and Gila deals with them in the way that only she can.
If it seems that I like this book, I do - very much. It has instantly become my new recommendation for all women interested in self defense, and I can hardly think of a better gift for a wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, or daughter than "Personal Defense for Women."
Now a disclaimer: At Gila's request, I provided some of the pictures in this book, and my name appears in a couple of places. Many of the actors in the pictures are people that I know well. It would seem that I am biased with regards to the merits of "Personal Defense for Women", and you're right - but it's because I've been consistently and actively recommending its predecessor for 15 years! The old book was good, and this edition is even better. I'm proud to have played a small role in its production.
This is a worthy update, and there is so much new information that owners of "Effective Defense" would be well advised to pick up a copy of "Personal Defense for Women."
-=[ Grant ]=-
I've written about this before, but it's getting worse. All across this country are people standing behind gun counters who need to be taught that women are people, too.
I've lost track of the number of times I've run into a woman who was sold (as opposed to deciding to buy) a revolver for self defense. Now it should be pretty clear to even the densest web denizen that this is a revolver-friendly blog, so it should not come as a shock that I think revolvers are a great tool.
They are not necessarily, however, the right tool. As I mentioned last week, the revolver is the easiest gun in the world to shoot, but the most difficult gun to shoot well. That long, heavy (in stock configuration) trigger requires a certain amount of hand strength, without which the gun cannot be fired.
Herein lies the problem: the female of the species, in general, tends to have less strength in her digits than does the male. It's not unusual, therefore, to find a woman saddled with a brand-new revolver on which she cannot manipulate the trigger. I've seen countless numbers of women who actually have to use two fingers to get the trigger moving!
It's not so much a matter of gun fit (though that enters into the equation far too often), but simply the trigger offering more resistance than a slim finger is capable of overcoming. In reality most women would really be better served with the shorter, lighter trigger action of an autoloading pistol, but the wisdom of the gunstore commando is that autoloaders are just "too complicated for the little lady."
Hey, Bubba, I've got news for you: women actually drive cars these days! Yes, automobiles, with their myriad switches and levers and pedals and buttons. Women have no problem figuring those things out, yet you think they can't handle the concept of a slide stop lever?
The usual rejoinder is that women don't have the upper body strength to manipulate the slide of an autoloader. This is fact turned on it's side to bolster a flawed assumption; yes, women tend not to have our arm strength, but that deficiency can be rendered immaterial through proper technique. It's a simple matter, and nearly any female (and a more enlightened male) firearms instructor can teach it inside of thirty seconds.
This whole issue wouldn't bother me so much - and I wouldn't be writing about it again - but the inferiority attitude is so pervasive that some women are themselves buying into the notion that they're not "capable" of handling an autoloader. I've actually had students to whom I've taught the autoloader manipulation techniques (and who've shot very well with one) go out and end up with a revolver. Not because they wanted one, mind you, but because some dolt behind a counter convinced her that it was all she could handle.
Mind you, I'm not some new-age "sensitive man". I'm as big a neanderthal as the next guy; I believe that women and men are different, and you can thank your favorite deity for the difference! I'm just tired of people assuming that my wife, sisters, nieces, and mother are so stupid that they can't handle a simple mechanical device. I'm annoyed that they are doing their level best to indoctrinate women to this nonsensical point of view, and I'm appalled that it actually seems to be gaining some traction among women themselves!
I don't have a prescription for this problem, other than to continue to educate every person - man or woman - I run across. If that means I repeat myself every so often, I'm willing to do so. I hope you'll forgive me!
Yes, revolvers are wonderful, but they're not for everyone. We need to help people to make intelligent decisions, and if that means they choose a self-shucker, so be it. Heretical? No, just realistic.
-=[ Grant ]=-