by Melissa Allison, Director KC3

I will admit it right from the start; I am a new gun owner. Less than a year ago I would have been more likely to be a member of the Million Mom March than a board member of the Kentucky Coalition to Carry Concealed. However, as the saying goes, \"Times change\" and so have my views of guns and gun ownership. I now understand the value of protecting the right to carry concealed weapons. My change of heart resulted in shooting IDPA, joining KC3, and becoming a member of the board of directors. As a member, I have taken the task of writing a column for the newsletter that specifically addresses the needs of women as they relate to concealed carry and gun ownership. In future issues I would like to address various topics of interest to women; however, for this issue I thought it would be appropriate to simply introduce myself and chronicle my journey into the realm of concealed carry.

Ironically enough my first real exposure to guns occurred in California, that state which is rapidly limiting access to handguns. I never had any real interest in guns and certainly never saw the need to own one for myself, but one day my husband suggested that we take a gun safety course together at the local range. (Allow me to interject at this point that my husband is the sole reason that I became interested in guns, so men, listen up…if you are having a hard time convincing your significant other to give guns a chance, continue reading; I am going to give you some tips for softening her resistance). Of course my husband’s suggestion met with my \"misunderstanding\" of guns; after all, I am a nurse. I gave the normal response: \"Guns are dangerous\" to which my husband responded, \"That’s why we are taking a gun safety course.\" Wanting something that my husband and I could do together, I gave in to his petition and signed up for the two-hour class.

As the day of our class approached I became more and more nervous. I did not tell any of my friends for fear that they would laugh at me and ask when I was going to join the militia. I thought guns were for rednecks and hunters; certainly no respected citizen would carry one. I was soon to find out that I was wrong. Our class, containing a mom and her son, some computer engineers, as well as my husband and me, was held at the local indoor range. Now you must understand that this was the first time I had ever set foot inside a gun range and the first time I had ever seen a gun fired in real life. I was scared to death after seeing some of the guns people were firing; I told my husband that I did not want a gun that shot fire. He laughed. The class turned out to be just the thing for someone like me; we did not even touch a gun for an hour. We learned the different parts of a gun and how they worked, but more importantly we learned how to handle a gun safely. After safety lessons, it was time to shoot. The instructor gave us both a .22 pistol and a .22 revolver. That was perfect! Men, let me say that if you are trying to get your significant other to be interested in guns do not start them out shooting your .45 or Desert Eagle. Women, in general, are not impressed with the power of guns; they want something they are comfortable shooting. I was comfortable shooting the .22 pistol (It didn’t shoot fire…hehe). The class hooked me. I liked the adrenaline rush that shooting gave me as well as the competitive aspect of trying to shoot that little ‘X’ in the middle of the target.

Before moving to Kentucky, we visited that range several more times; I felt comfortable there. The minute you walked in the door of the range someone asked if you were carrying a gun, and if you were, you had to show it to him. Men, if you are trying to convince your significant other that shooting is safe, do not take them to a range where people are consistently breaking safe handling rules. The other nice thing about that range was that you could rent guns from them. This gave me the opportunity to try out different guns and decide for myself which one I liked. My husband never pushed a certain gun on me; he encouraged me to find something that fit me. Another lesson to learn, men, do not assume that your significant other will like the gun you like, that a Glock is the best pistol for beginners (I hate them), or that women prefer a revolver. These are all sentiments that I encountered, and none of them proved true for me, except that my husband and I both like our Sig P225.

Once my husband and I moved to Kentucky, we got in contact with Charles Riggs who introduced us to the idea of concealed carry. I had never considered this as a possibility; I thought it was unnecessary and dangerous. However, I paid attention to the statistics that my husband placed before me; he never tried to sway my opinion, only presented me with the facts allowing me to make my own informed decision. Once again, men, women are not stupid; give them the appropriate information and they will more than likely arrive at the right conclusion. Statistics did not fail in my case, and I soon realized the value of carrying a concealed weapon to protect myself. I claimed the phrase I saw on a girl’s t-shirt: \"I refuse to be a victim.\" That is where I am today, a female member of KC3 fighting for my right not to be a victim, and that is why I have decided to write this column. I want to help other women understand that guns are not what the media makes them out to be; that in the hands of responsible citizens, they are a valid means of self-defense. I also want to address the needs that women face when considering concealed carry. So watch your newsletter in the future for tips and advice, and hopefully we will all learn something together.