Admirably Armed

No Surprise Here: More Women Are Packing
73

Idaho’s Debbie Ditunno certainly exemplifies women who enjoy shooting and
can handle a big bore, in this case a Model 57 Smith & Wesson in .41 Magnum.
Yeah, that’s Dave in the background watching her outshoot him.

Being a working journalist, whose beat is all-things-gun-related, I make a point of watching trends among legally-armed citizens and recently, while checking on the concealed carry licenses in two states, I did some rough math — the only kind I’m good at, ask my checkbook — and discovered something encouraging.

In my home state of Washington, somewhere around 25-28% of citizens who possess approximately 700,000 active concealed pistol licenses are women. I quickly looked at Arizona data, observing about 25% of folks in the Grand Canyon State with carry permits are women. These two states share identical right-to-bear-arms provisions in their state constitutions; Washington in 1889 and Arizona in 1912.

This really should surprise nobody. We see almost daily on social media messages from people involved in women’s shooting leagues (ever hear of “A Girl and A Gun?”), and I see a fair number of images posted on Facebook from women who are hunting or training. If there’s a downside to any of this, I haven’t seen it.

According to the latest report on concealed carry in the United States from the Crime Prevention Research Center, “In 2022, women made up 29.2% of permit holders in the 15 states that provide data by gender, an increase from the 28.3% last year. Seven states had data from 2012 to 2021/2022, and permit numbers grew 115.4% faster for women than for men.”

John Lott founded the Crime Prevention Research Center. He annually
publishes updated data on concealed carry in the U.S.

Why is any of this important? Probably because guns and shooting, wandering around the woods with a rifle or shotgun, and defending one’s home and family aren’t just the realm of men anymore. Over the years attending the annual Elmer Keith Memorial long-range handgun shoot, I encountered some ladies who were accomplished handgunners. (One of them had the annoying habit of outshooting me with her own Model 57 Smith & Wesson in .41 Magnum, a revolver identical to the one I used during the heyday of that annual gathering.)

Some years ago, I taught an evening course on firearms and personal protection at a local community college. Roughly 85% of my students were female, and they came to class wanting to learn.

Interesting Numbers

It’s not just about women, of course. There is something happening out there, and it’s fairly certain the gun prohibition crowd is uncomfortable about it.

In Washington State — where the Democrat governor launched a push for new gun controls just before the holidays; that effort is now at work in the State Legislature — the highest number of CPLs is in King County. It’s the state’s most populated county and politically the most liberal, yet at last check approximately 110,000 residents there, about 10% of the county’s adult population, are licensed to carry.

Look south at Arizona’s Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix and is also where you’ll find most of the liberals congregating, and you will also find the highest number of active permits of any county in the state. The next highest number of permits is in Pima County, and it runs a very distant second to Maricopa, where at a glance there were about 160,000 active permits (to Pima’s 36,000-plus) and that was at the beginning of October.

What goes on here? Even liberals must want to protect their skins, one might presume. But we’ll hazard a guess these populated counties are home to a lot of single women, or even single mothers. They care about their safety, and for the moms, they care about their kids.

Girls and Guns, Eh?

A few years ago, I learned about A Girl & A Gun, an organization “established by women shooters for women shooters.”

One look at their website and you quickly conclude this is not just some passing fad. The executive director of this group is a friend of mine, Robyn Sandoval, and you won’t find anyone more serious and enthusiastic about what she does. Robyn is a certified handgun instructor, a devoted shooter, and she also serves on the board of The DC Project.

Robyn Sandoval is executive director of the growing A Girl & A Gun
organization, which is bringing more women into the world of gun ownership

The DC Project brings members from all 50 states to Washington, D.C. annually, where they meet and chat with members of Congress and their staffs. The point of this pilgrimage is to remind Capitol Hill that women are not just advocates for gun control.

A Girl & A Gun has chapters all over the map. A visit to their website reveals where these chapters are located, whether in Idaho, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, and this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Don’t believe me? Just open your favorite search engine and type in “A Girl & A Gun,” and then just sit back.

Via email, Sandoval told me the program currently involves 265 ranges across the country. The group hosts about 300 events per month, plus virtual events and “destination Girls Getaways.”

In 2023, she said the organization will host “a variety of events across all shooting platforms and disciplines: Sniper School, Clays Extravaganza, 3-Gun University and the Multigun Challenge, and our newest event called DRIFT Academy, which focuses on every aspect of vehicle defense — awareness, de-escalation, nonlethal, armed defense in and around a vehicle, and evasive driving — since cars post a massive vulnerability to women’s safety in those transitional spaces.”

This year, the group will host its 11th annual national conference, AMPLIFY 2023. Sandoval said the conference will be held in Grand Junction, Colorado, April 27-30.

‘Ladies’ Gun?’

Anybody remember a James Bond novel titled “Doctor No?” Maybe you remember the film, which introduced the world to Bond and the man who became forever linked to the character, the late Sean Connery.

Early in the book and the film, there’s a bit of a hubbub about Bond’s pistol, a .25-caliber Beretta, which got him into a little trouble on a previous assignment. In examining Bond’s little gat, the armorer for the British Secret Service sneered at it: “Ladies’ gun.”

I never met Fleming, and would have loved to explain a few things to him about fight-stopping calibers. Suffice to say Fleming’s view of handguns seemed a bit myopic, perhaps even patronizing. Were he around today, he’d have to come up with a female character who packed a pistol worthy of a villainess, say something north of a 9mm. Maybe a .40 S&W or .45 ACP?

Come to think of it, I cannot recall having ever met a woman whose choice of defensive sidearm was a .25-caliber anything. So, phooey on Fleming.

I’d have to remind him about the armed woman who, last May in West Virginia, put a timely end to an angry fellow who had opened fire on a birthday party. The unidentified woman happened to be in the right place at the right time, and sent the would-be killer, identified as Dennis Butler on his way to the morgue.

Police called the armed woman a hero, and made it clear early on she wouldn’t face any charges.

Or, maybe I’d tell him about the time a female attorney stopped at my office and sat down to adjust the ankle holster that held a .38 Special Smith & Wesson. The world is full of surprises, y’know.

Formidable Force

One cannot fully appreciate the significance of this growing interest in guns, gear and self-reliance without sitting down for a chat. So here’s a dare.

Next time you’re at the range, or a gun show, gun shop or even out in the wilds and you encounter a woman packing a sidearm or something bigger, start a conversation and maybe learn something.

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