Girl, I got some things I wanna say to you..

Someone asked me the other day how long I’ve been into guns.  I was surprised when the words “two years” came out of my mouth.  It feels like just yesterday I was all, “Uh-uh.  No guns! Not up in here!”.  But then, you know, the times are a’changing.  Now my sweet Smith and Wesson Shield rests a mere sleepy arm’s length away from me every night and trips to the gun range are like candy for a greedy child.  I certainly don’t consider myself an expert (and truth be told, I have some qualms with that word, in the first place) but there are definitely a few things I’ve learned along the way that would have been helpful earlier in my journey.  So, I put together a little list of  things I wish I could go back and tell myself about shooting and the gun world. 

1.  You’re better at this than you think you are.  Stick with it.  Try not to get discouraged.

2.  Focus on the fun.  Gun safety is serious, but shooting guns is just plain, dumb fun.  Don’t get overwhelmed by all that tactical operator, extreme carbine, pistol manipulation,  super ninja, gun nut stuff.  You’re not going to be La Femme Nikita right off the bat.  (But seriously, some of that gun nut stuff is pretty rad and you should check it out on YouTube.  You’ll like it).

3.  Even though you don’t see many people in the gun world like you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for you or that you aren’t providing a valuable perspective.

4. When your real-life friends and family give you horrified looks after you tell them you own guns, just smile sweetly and be patient.  You know you’re not crazy, they know you’re not crazy.  It will all work itself out.

5. When the cranky, old fart at the gun range tells you not to put your finger over the barrel of the gun while you’re shooting, smile sweetly and tell him to eat a bag of dicks.

6. You’re going to run into outdated thinking, bad attitudes, preconceived ideas, ignorance and outright disrespect just because you don’t fit into the “traditional gun owner” mold.  Eff that.  You’re not in it for those people anyway.  There is a community of supportive, encouraging people who are thrilled to count you among their ranks, and will  welcome you with open arms.  Be friends with them.

7.  Don’t rush into buying a gun for concealed carry.  Once you make up your mind that you’re going to carry, it’s easy to get impatient, but there are a lot of considerations and a lot of guns to choose from.  Don’t settle for something you don’t really like or isn’t comfortable to shoot.  Take your time or you’ll end up kissing a lot of frogs.

8.  You CAN carry concealed in (cute) women’s clothes! Do not despair! You don’t have to dress like a lady cop or a homeless person, and you don’t have to buy some Mickey Mouse, pink, sparkly gear just because that’s the ladies’ model.  Just put a little time and effort into it (You already like to shop.  How much of a hardship is this really going to be?) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can hide under your t-shirt. (wink)

9.  Prepare to be underestimated.  Then prepare to not give a single shit.

10.  Listen to what everyone has to say about guns, but don’t believe anything as gospel.  The gun world is a rapidly evolving place filled with countless would-be experts, especially on the internet.  Many ideas that are espoused as facts are really opinions.  There’s also a lot of good information out there.  Do your own research.  Ask a lot of questions. Try things for yourself.

11. You will mostly learn by making mistakes, but that’s ok because it will still be plain, dumb fun.  Don’t let failures, mistakes or missteps spoil the pure joy of shooting.

What would you tell your former newbie self about shooting and guns?

Why the Shield is an Ideal CC Gun (for Women)

Shield and sword. Ready for action.

I recently read this article by Lynne over at Female and Armed (which is a really fantastic blog, by the way) and it resonated so strongly with me that I thought I’d throw in my two cents concerning choosing a subcompact pistol for concealed carry.

Let’s be honest. How many abysmally awfully guns have you tried out in your search to find the perfect concealed carry pistol? I know I’ve shot more duds than I care to recall, and even own a few that ended up being entirely unsuitable for this application. It can be an expensive game of trial and error, not to mention extremely frustrating. Women have unique and specific requirements for purchasing a firearm to carry every day, and the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield fits those requirements better than any other subcompact, polymer pistol that I’ve tried thus far.

The Shield is a striker-fired pistol chambered in 9mm or .40 cal (I own the 9mm and have not yet tried the .40) that holds either 7+1 or 8+1 rounds, depending on which magazine you are using. Smith and Wesson developed the Shield to help meet the rising demand for a reliable pocket pistol that is easy to conceal and not a pain to shoot, literally. And they succeeded brilliantly on both counts.

Most importantly for an EDC pistol, I have found the Shield to be entirely reliable.  I’ve not yet experienced a single malfunction despite having close to 2,000 rounds through it.

Additionally, the Shield is amazingly easy to carry, especially considering its caliber and capacity. Even more remarkable when you take into account that apparently most women’s clothes are made for impractical, tiny-handed super-models who spend all day sitting around doing nothing but looking pretty. You know what I mean, ladies. Happily, the slim width (Smith clocks it at .95 of an inch)  causes it to nearly disappear even under a thin t-shirt. That, coupled with its compact size, produces an ideal pistol for inside-the-waistband carry. Even sitting down, the Shield doesn’t make you overtly aware of its presence. Which is good, because as we all know, if you have a gun that is uncomfortable to carry, or you can’t wear it with the majority of your clothes, you just won’t carry it.

There is more to an EDC pistol than just ease of carry and concealment, though. It is paramount to practice regularly with your gun, so you are familiar with the controls, grip and trigger. I very much enjoy practicing, (I’m a sucker for repetitive tasks), but shooting some of the smaller subcompact guns on the market can be frustrating and even painful, due to the reduced size and weight, heavy trigger pull and intense recoil. I’ve shot both the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard in .380 and the Ruger LCP and immediately discounted both of them as potential carry pistols due to the factors mentioned above. On the other hand, every time I go to the range, I end up buying a box of 9mm ammo because I just can’t leave without running a couple of mags through the Shield (at least that’s what I tell myself right before I blow through all 50 rounds). The Shield is tremendously accurate, the recoil is minimal for such a light gun, and the trigger reset is nothing short of sublime. Seriously, if you’re ever given the opportunity to pull the trigger on one of these little guys, do it. I’m pretty sure you’ll be reassessing your gun-buying budget post-haste.

While the Shield is a winner overall, there are definitely a few things that could be better. One of my biggest annoyances about this gun is the 7 round magazine. I find it  difficult to both load and seat into the gun. At first, I thought this might be a break-in issue, and would resolve itself over time. However, nearly 4 months later, my concerns are still present. The spring inside of the magazine is tremendously stiff making it cumbersome to load the rounds. Once it is loaded, I find that I am rarely able to seat it properly on the first try, not matter how much strength I apply. I almost always have to insert the mag and then give it another tap to push it into place. I don’t have either of these problems with the extended magazine. Mostly this is fine, since I prefer the higher capacity anyway, however sometimes it is easier to conceal with the shorter mag.

Appendix carry perfection. The Shield in a PHLster Skeleton holster.

Other perplexing issues: why is the safety minuscule and impossible to operate? And why even put a safety on it if you’re going to give it a six-and-a-half pound trigger? I have totally abandoned any hope of ever using the safety on this gun because I can’t actuate the darned thing without squinting and struggling. I am also seriously considering doing a trigger job on it to lighten the pull. While I love the crispness and reset, I find the weight to be a bit of nuisance. I very much like the Apex Tactical five-and-a-half pound trigger for M&Ps, so I think that might be next on my to-do list.

Final verdict—if you want to carry, but would prefer to not lug around a full-size firearm, choose the M&P Shield. The price is right, so you will definitely feel like you got a bargain when you realize how awesome it is. Also, it is really manageable to operate and take down, which means it’s a good gun to learn the basics with. You won’t find a lot of confusing controls or extraneous features, and taking it apart to clean it is almost as easy as taking apart a Glock. Unlike a Glock, however you will actually want to take your Shield to the range and shoot it.

In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, Brandon over at Monderno did experience a problem with his Shield that rendered it unusable and required a trip back to Smith and Wesson for repair.  Read more on that here.

The Concealed Carry Holster Fashion Show

A couple of weeks ago, after a long day in the PHLster workshop, I hurriedly packed a bag and made some final travel arrangements.  I went to sleep that night with the kind of anticipation that children have on the night before Christmas.  But it wasn’t visions of saccharine sprites dancing in my head.  I dreamt of skillfully concealed pistols and empowered women exercising their rights.  (Ok, I might have also dreamt of fighting off a malicious invasion of angry cyborg cats, but that’s for another article).

Recycled brass centerpieces at the CC Fashion Show

The 1st Annual Women’s Concealed Carry Holster Fashion Show was held at the Churchtown Firehouse Banquet Hall in rural Hudson, New York (or thereabouts. My navigation couldn’t accurately locate the spot within 5 miles) on July 21st.  By all accounts, the sold-out event, put on by Trish Cutler with help from Kitty Richards, Gracie McKee and Annette Evans, was an overwhelming success, and an example that is sure to be emulated across the country.  A packed room of women, and quite a few men, listened to speakers give talks on a wide range of gun and self-defense related topics, browsed merchants’ tables, and watched women of various shapes, sizes and ages demonstrate some of the most popular holsters on the market today.

A packed house in upstate New York.

The fashion show itself started with a demonstration on proper drawing and re-holstering techniques including from-the-hip, cross draw and sitting.  Gracie McKee gave excellent commentary and stressed the importance of becoming proficient with these techniques.

Annette Evans demonstrates proper draw and stance.

Then the fun part started.  The models, including Gabby Franco of Top Shot fame, sashayed up the improvised runway and onto a small stage to an eclectic mix of gun-themed music including NAS’s “Got Yourself at Gun” (which cause an embarrassing out-burst of laughter on my part).   Most did a quick twirl before revealing where the holster holding a replica gun was concealed.  Meanwhile Gracie provided info on the make and model of each holster.

Master of Ceremonies, Gracie McKee

The enthusiasm and camaraderie in the audience was palpable, and as each new model came out a flurry of whispers erupted around me, excitedly trying to guess where the gun was.  It was an exercise in futility though, since the guns were all so well-hidden that I don’t think anyone was able to identify them through the models’ clothing.  Some of my favorites were the shoulder holster– a Galco I believe, one of Looper Brand’s newer offerings, the Marilyn and the various holster purses (since I have a special interest in lady gun bags).

A model displaying a concealed carry purse.

Seeing how these holsters look and operate on a real woman, in real life was tremendously helpful to me, and I’m sure, many of the other women at the show, as well.  I saw many taking notes on their napkins and conferring with each other about the pros and cons of the various offerings.

For me, while I found the event to be very informative and interesting, it was equally gratifying getting to meet and talk with so many other gun advocates in the community.  The ladies behind popular gun blogs Packing Pretty, Armed Candy , new kid on the block, Walther and Me and the lovely [armedinstilettos] whose t-shirt you might recognize from my video, were all in attendance, as well as two other alumni of The History Channel’s Top Shot.  Among other things, we all bonded over the discomfort of having to leave our guns at home. (Note to the state of New York: your gun laws are bogus).

Lady gun bloggers unite.

As we saw earlier in the summer with the much-Tweeted-about Girls Gun Getaway, any gathering of pro-gun females both boosts morale among lady shooters, and garners good publicity for the gun world.  On a personal level also, it’s tremendously energizing to meet others who are working passionately towards the same goal of empowering women to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The lovely Gabby of Armed Candy.

I had a number of enlightening and thought-provoking conversations during the brief time I spent in Hudson that I know will stick with me, and inform both my writing and my shooting.  I can’t wait to share some of these new insights that are percolating in my over-caffeinated brain with you guys.  I sincerely hope that events like this catch on across the country, in the wake of the success in New York.  There is already talk of this becoming an annual event in Hudson, and I am delighted at the possibility.  I can’t wait to see more holster options and hopefully, to meet more of you guys at next year’s Concealed Carry Fashion Show.

For  more info on the show, check out Gracie’s post on Packing Pretty and Gabby’s slide show of the holsters that were featured.

Women, Guns and Sexual Assault

I think it might finally be time to address the R- word.

I have tiptoed around it since I entered the gun owning population, partially because it is an attention-grabbing taboo that comes with its own laundry list of connotations and associations, but mostly because it is something that I have very strong feelings about.  I didn’t want to slap together some off-the-cuff rant about how I think guns will put an end to rape.  This topic deserves a more nuanced treatment.  I planned on waiting and gathering data and doing research.  But today I was reading this article and I felt like my brain was going to explode at the absurdity of the assertions the author makes.  Then I ran a quick Google search on guns and sexual violence and found this  and this and I just can’t keep quiet on the subject any longer.

Whether or not you believe guns will prevent sexual assault, the language and tone of these articles is infuriating and demeaning.  It implies that while the threat of sexual violence is very real and entirely reprehensible, if we’ve gotten ourselves into the situation that results in rape, there’s nothing to be done about it.   We should just close our eyes and wait for it to be over.  They claim that we have no viable chance of defending ourselves against a rapist and even if we do, no one will believe our sad story anyway. The fact that these articles are all written by women, for women makes them all the more galling.  This line especially made smoke come out of my ears  would a judge and jury really believe a woman who says she shot her husband in self-defense because he was trying to rape her? Furthermore, a gun won’t protect you if someone takes advantage of you while you’re too drunk to consent to sex, nor will it stop someone from slipping a date rape drug in your drink.” (Hodrick, http://www.PolicyMic.com, July 25, 2012)   It sounds an awful lot like premptive victim blaming to me. Why bother learning to defend yourself?  It’s not going to work and everyone is going to think you are a lying, boozing slut anyway.

Then there’s this neat, little package of condescending problem-solving: “Guns are not the solution. Education is. There are ways to protect yourself: don’t walk at night alone on campus, don’t run at night on campus with earbuds in, when going to a party or bar only accept drinks that you have seen made with your own eyes, try to stay in well-lit, people-filled areas, don’t wear your hair in a ponytail because it is easier to grab, be observant of your environment to see if you’re being followed in any way, always listen to your gut if your instinct is telling you something is wrong, and if given the chance, take a self-defense class”  (Alvarez, http://www.twodaymag.com, August 4, 2011) Oh! Just don’t wear a ponytail! Perfect!  We will all be so educated and happy, in well-lit, people-filled areas sipping drinks that we have meticulous observed the production of, listening to our guts (but not our earbuds! Dear no!) with our hair down.  It will be utopian.  There will be no guns there, for they are not for us ladyfolks.  Maybe we can have mace, or a bat or a knife.   We definitely should take a self-defense class.  But a gun won’t do us a lick of good.  In fact, Alvarez goes on to say, guns can only create more problems.”  Well, I’m so glad she told me.  I’ve had my gun for almost two years now.  When should I expect the problems to begin?

I hope that by now we all know that guns don’t do anything on their own.  They don’t prevent or cause anything to happen.  Yet a palpable fear of firearms exists in our collective subconscious.  We demonize guns even as we fetishize them as an icon of violence.  There is a perception that a gun will turn a sane man, or woman, into a crazed, trigger-happy criminal, or that a gun is a gross over-reaction to the threat of rape.  I contend that the gun is a great equalizer.  Why do only criminals, police and nut-cases get to have guns?  Do we, the potential victims, not get access to these same implements, so that we might properly defend ourselves?  In fact, might we have these tools so we no longer have to be victims?  Maybe we can take some action in preserving our own safety instead of just staying in well-lit areas and hoping for the best.

Most importantly, the act of shooting and owning a gun has a profound impact on the way most women see themselves and the world around them.   Shooting a gun is empowering, energizing, stress-relieving and confidence-building.  In my experience, women who shoot walk taller and apologize less.  They are also sensitive, caring and protective of their loved ones.  Women who carry guns have already decided that their lives and their bodies are valuable enough to protect.  Carrying a gun, and training to defend oneself with it, is a huge responsibility, not to be taken lightly.  It requires a vast amount of situational awareness, mental fortitude, education and commitment. In fact, gun ownership fosters just the kind of attitude and awareness that Ms. Alvarez suggests is the solution for preventing sexual assaults.  And that might be enough.  You might not ever need to pull the gun out.  But at least you have it and you know how to use it, if you do.

I’ve never been under the illusion that a gun is some kind of magical talisman that can be carried to ward off menacing attackers.  No amount of training, nor tools, nor mindset can deter all violence, all of the time.  The best we can hope for is a chance—an opportunity to run, a chance to call out for help, a moment to draw our weapon and fire a shot.  Why not employ all the tools at our disposal, and acquire as many skills, and as much knowledge as is available in order to improve that chance?

Get educated.  Investigate all of the resources you have access to.  And PLEASE don’t believe anyone who tells you that you don’t have a chance of defending yourself.

Concealed Carry (even when it’s like a billion degrees)

I’ve been talking a lot lately about concealed carry options, so I thought I would share with you guys another method that I use frequently, wardrobe permitting.  It’s a PHLster skeleton holster for my M&P Shield, that I appendix carry IWB.   This is the same holster that I showed off in my EDC Pistol Options video.

As you can see from the photos, it basically disappears even in summer clothes.  The shirt I am wearing is a bit roomy in the front, but the cut doesn’t feel unflattering to me.  I also like the layered tank-tops for warmer weather.  You can tuck one tank-top in and wear a larger one over top, so that your gun isn’t pressed right up against your (likely sweaty) abdomen.  Carrying this way is secure, comfortable and provides a quick and easy draw.  It’s also nearly invisible, even if you know what you’re looking for.

How do you guys carry in the summer months?

Bag Lady

If I was a rapper, I would say that today I am “ballin outta control”.  Sadly, I am not a rapper so I’ll just say that I’m having an awesome day.

For the past few months, I have been working on constructing small bags for concealed carry with varying levels of success.  In the last 24 hours however, I’ve completed two that I think are pretty good examples of what I am going for.

My goals in this project are to make a bag that is versatile (that is, can be carried in multiple kinds of outfits, all year round and is compatible with various models of pistols and/or holsters), stylish and comfortable.  Too much?  I figured it was best to set the bar high and see what I could achieve, rather than compromise right out of the gate.  My ideal bag meets all of the criteria above and that’s what I wanted, so that’s what I aimed for (Yeah, I’m making shooting puns.  I can’t help myself).  Overall, it has been pretty slow going.  I haven’t been able to find a sewing pattern that is close enough to what I want to actually be useful, so I’ve been making it all up as a go, which is alternately thrilling and exasperating.  My motivation for the project is constant though, since I hate having to leave my gun at home.  More so now that we are in the hot summer months and I can’t wear the PHLster skeleton holster that I love.  (Why, you ask?  One word: chafing).

The two models of bags I am working on now are based on a kind of fanny pack platform.  They utilize a belt or a strap to fasten around the user’s waist, and then a pouch that conceals the holstered gun within.  The result: you look like you’re wearing a stylish accessory and no one suspects you are packing the heat.  Win/win.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of how they turned out:

You can see that in the smaller, rectangular bag, the user would have to supply their own sturdy gun belt.  I like this design, however it is limited to outfits that can be worn with a belt.  I’ve found this to be difficult in a skirt or a dress.  The other option is a little more versatile since it has a built-in strap that can function as a belt or a shoulder strap.  I very much like to carry bags in a cross-body configuration, so I designed this one to be able to be easily convertible between a belt bag and a cross-body bag.  The external pocket on the back opens on two sides, allowing easy access to your firearm.  I am currently using a piece of paracord that is sewn into the bag to hold my holster in place.

I am planning on doing a follow-up post, so I can show you how they look while in use and discuss the pros and cons of the designs.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Also, special thanks to Philly Art Girl for the totally awesome Luger belt buckle FTW.

You Never Forget the First Time

Monica shootsLast week I had the opportunity to take a brand new shooter to the range.   It was a surprising, terrifying, frustrating, exhilarating, transformative experience, unlike any other.  It also highlighted for me the aspects I like best about shooting and the attitudes I like least in the community.

I am a very “ducks in a row” kind of person.  Up until quite recently, I did not feel like  I was knowledgeable or competent enough to teach someone else to shoot.  Before I stepped into that role, I wanted to make sure that I could adequately explain and demonstrate all of the fundamentals of safe marksmanship, and I just wasn’t sure I was there yet.  But then I went through the NRA basic pistol class, which reinforced a lot of the skills and knowledge that I already had.  And I also began really committing to going to the range once a week and working on the basics.  These things paid off and I finally started to feel like I was in a place where I could share my love of shooting with a beginner.

On the day of the lesson,  my lovely friend was enthusiastic and eager to shoot a gun for the first time.  She definitely brought her “teachable attitude”.  We were also joined by another friend who is curious, but not quite ready to pull the trigger.  I got us targets, ammo, eyes and ears and  we set up in the lane.  As I opened my mouth to start the instruction, I realized the enormity of what I was about to try to explain.  My friend had read a few articles about gun safety online, but other than that she was entirely uninitiated.  I had thought about what I was going to say, but once we were actually there I was suddenly overwhelmed by the amount of information I felt like she absolutely NEEDED to know, and also empathetic to the anxiety and trepidation she must have been feeling.  I didn’t want to bombard her with instruction, but I wanted to make sure she knew enough to be safe and have a little fun.  So, we went over the safety rules first, which she had already memorized. (I told you she brought her A game).  Then we did grip, stance and trigger pull.  She was hitting her target almost instantly (like a boss).  Excitement quickly replaced our anxieties.  My friend seemed genuinely,  pleasantly surprised at what the experience of shooting a gun is actually like.  She  says that it is both easier and harder than she thought it would be.  I feel the same way about teaching her how to shoot.  Our other friend, who was observing, says she would like to give it a try the next time we go.  They both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of a monthly Ladies’ Night at the range and an interest in becoming proficient shooters.  I couldn’t ask for more.  I can only hope that any other teaching experiences I have in the future are with people who are as open-minded and willing to learn as these girls.

me and Monica

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all sunshine and gunpowder.  As a group of young women alone at the range, we definitely attracted a fair amount of attention.   I usually go to the range with my husband, and I am generally left to my own devices.  Most of the employees know I am safe and competent.  Turns out though, that a group of women shooting alone inspires a lot of Advice Fairy/Fun Shark behavior.  This usually entails a dude stepping in to repeat the instruction I have just given, but in a louder voice while puffing up his chest and displaying his biceps.  Peacocking, one might say.  As a new teacher, I do appreciate help and a more experienced perspective, but I didn’t see anyone stepping in to help the girls who were there with their boyfriends or husbands.  There was a noticeable difference between the reactions our little posse garnered versus how I am treated when I am with male friends.  It felt as though we, as “unsupervised”  ladies, were deemed less competent.  On top of all that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the RSO was dying to ask me for my friend’s number.  Sigh.  I thought that’s what Match.com was for.

Fueled by both my exhilaration at my friend’s success and my irritation at being underestimated, I immediately went home and emailed a friend about getting my NRA Instructor credentials.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and this experience tipped the scales.  Lately, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of ladies getting involved in firearms, however I have not seen an increase in female instructors.  I think it is time for me to step up and put my money where my mouth is.  I want to see a change in certain perceptions and preconceived ideas in the gun community, and this is a chance to be that change.  Also, I can blog my behind off about it and that will be fun for all of us.

If you have tips about teaching or getting instructor training, please let me know in the comments.  I would be grateful for any feedback.

Catching Flies; Honey vs. Vinegar

Inspired by Fate of Destinee’s YouTube video about gender inequality in the gun world, I have decided to indulge in my own rant today.  My rant doesn’t have anything to do with being a woman, but it has everything to do with stereotyping and passing snap judgements on others.

Let me start off by telling you a little story.  This is a story about Twitter.  When I first created a Twitter account for RebeccaGuns, I was so excited to find all of the cool gun people I could follow.  There were so many of them!  And they were all into guns!  I thought I had found the happiest place ever.  And I would say, by and large, I have overwhelmingly positive interactions with other gun people on the interwebz. However, I started to notice that some days my Twitter feed was full of posts that just seem designed to put other groups of people down.  Now I’m not talking about other groups of people like the The Charles Manson Liberation Society or Proud Pedophiles of America.   I’m just talking about other groups that may practice a different religion, subscribe to an alternate political point of view or have been born some other race.  When I read these posts, I was angry.  I still am.  I’m angry because this is not an accurate representation of the gun community, and frankly, it’s often just hate mongering.  I have thought about breaking up with Twitter, so I don’t have to be so angry.  But, the thing is, there are a lot of people out there who post really interesting, informative content about firearms which I very much enjoy reading.  So instead, I just click “Unfollow” and I don’t have to be exposed to the haters hatin’ anymore.  Problem solved.  If only there were such a thing in real life.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  If you are into being a Republican or a Democrat, or believing in Jesus Christ or the Prophet Muhammad, I think that is excellent.  It’s good to be passionate about the things you believe in.  But there is absolutely no reason to use your gun related social media platforms to bash opposing points of view.

Let me suggest that it might behoove us all to remember why we own guns in the first place.  My understanding is that we are a community of people who believe that all of our citizens have the right to defend themselves and their families, regardless of race, politics, sexual orientation or religion.  And this right is what keeps us free.  If we belittle and blame others who don’t agree with all of the same things we believe, we are undermining the very spirit of the principals that allow us to own guns in the first place.

Pejorative statements about “others” erode solidarity within the community, as well as paint us in a pretty unflattering light to the rest of the world.  I believe that the more folks we can get involved in the shooting sports, and interested in concealed carry, the safer our country will be, both from criminals and those in power who seek to exploit and manipulate the masses.  And from my vantage point, it seems like we are well on the way to having a diverse and rapidly expanding firearms community.  So NOW IS THE TIME to leave behind all of those antiquated ideas about which political party or religion is most worthy of gun ownership.  Because we all are.  Every last able-bodied, sound-minded one of us is entitled by the Constitution to the right to bear arms.  The more of us there are, the harder it will be for Congress or the President to push us around.

So let’s open our arms to the liberals, vegans, Muslims, Jews, blacks, Latinos, gays, women, etc, etc.  Because this is how we grow.  This is how we evolve.  This is how we make sure that our country doesn’t fall apart around us.  If we are too busy quibbling amongst ourselves over superficial differences, we will miss this opportunity to strengthen our numbers and come together as a group who welcomes all freedom-loving individuals.

Some Greatest Hits; So Far.

I was going through the photo library on my computer recently, and realized that I now have about 18 months worth of photos that have never been used.  One of the best things about owning guns is how photogenic they are.  Sexy things–you really can’t help but ogle them.  So, I put together a little excerpt from my visual diary from the past two years.  Hope you guys enjoy them and trust, there will be more to come..