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By Kathrin Werner, New York, Published: November 9, 2013
Paxton Quigley created a handbag where you can safely carry weapons and accessories; it is black, plain, made of leather and is called “Pax” – like “peace” and as her first name. Quigley does not think too much of all the “pink” products. “They are too girly, I ‘m against it ,” she says. “It makes the weapons look frivolous. Weapons are a serious thing.” Quigley is a guru for the women’s movement and weapons. She looks a little like she was coming from the TV series Dallas: blonde, perfect hair-do, perfect smile, she does not tell her age. She has written four books in which she explains why women should have firearms. And she’s a shooting teacher, having taught over 7000 women how to handle weapons. “I have a small army” she says. For a while she worked as a bodyguard, among the many of them, Yoko Ono.
Quigley hated weapons all her life, she says; she was a democrat, even a relatively left. Some of her old friends have turned away from her since she fights for arming women. Sometimes it deters men from going out with her. But there was this key experience: It was the middle of the night in 1988, when the call came. A good friend was on the phone, in tears, she was brutally raped in her own home. Quigley took the girlfriend to the hospital and asked: If you had had a gun, could you have fought back? Yes, said the friend. “Back then I swore to myself that such a thing will never happen to me,” Quigley said today, ” Weapons prevent rape.” She learns to shoot a gun, buys a gun, the gun-hater becomes a gun advocate.
Piers Morgan, February 21st, 2013
The author of “Armed and Female, Taking Control,” Quigley addressed gun manufacturer marketing campaigns that are geared to a female audience, and the ways in which such advertising impact sales:
“I think they’re [gun manufacturers] marketing that way, but I don’t think women are following in that way,” she told the host.
“In most cases, I would say that women go to a gun store. And even before they go to a gun store, they first learn how to shoot and they’re not shooting pink guns,” said Quigley.
A Gallup poll reported that in 2005, 13 percent of all women owned a gun. That number jumped to 23 percent in 2011. Many women say they are buying guns to protect themselves. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.
The Christian Science Monitor, February 14, 2013
By Allison Terry, Correspondent
Fifteen percent of America’s women own guns – a small but pronounced increase from six years ago, a recent poll found. Personal safety is the motivation, but some argue that a gun at home makes women less safe.
Owning or carrying a gun remains mostly a guy thing, but American women who pack heat – or at least keep a pistol in the nightstand drawer – are often Exhibit A in the case for broad access to firearms for personal protection.
The opposite contention, that having a gun in the house actually makes women less safe, is the rebuttal from those who say the country needs to make guns less accessible.
As Congress, President Obama, and the nation debate the need for stricter gun laws, women’s safety is emerging as a heated and emotional issue – and one that is almost impossible to “prove” on one side or the other. Every time gun rights defenders cite an incident of a young mother defending herself and her children by shooting an intruder, gun control advocates point to a woman fatally shot in a case of domestic violence.
But it would appear that as women themselves do the calculus, a small but growing share is coming down on the side of having a gun. The gun-gravitation is not drastic: 15 percent of women in the US own guns. That, however, is up from 12 percent as recently as 2007, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.
Julie Warren, a consultant in Colorado Springs, Colo., keeps a handgun in her house for safety and recreation. After serving in the Air Force, she doesn’t think twice about having it.
“There is peace of mind,” she says, “knowing that you have something you can do to overpower anyone coming through the door.”
Broadly speaking, polls show women are more inclined than men to support new gun control proposals before Congress. Women support stricter gun laws in general – 62 percent compared with 40 percent of men, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Feb. 7. Sixty-eight percent of women support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, versus 44 percent of men, and 65 percent of women favor a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines, while 46 percent of men do, the poll found. Both women and men overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun buyers, 94 percent and 90 percent, respectively.
But the argument that women need guns for personal safety and home defense resonates with many women – some of whom see government efforts to curtail gun access as a threat to their rights.
“We always hear about a woman’s right to choose, and we are women who want the right to choose how to protect our lives,” says Jenn Coffey, national director of legislative affairs for Second Amendment Sisters, a women’s advocacy group with the motto “self defense is a human right.”
“Gun-control laws degrade our rights, and put more rights in the hands of criminals,” Ms. Coffey adds.
Aside from polls showing an uptick in gun ownership among women, there is other evidence that women are becoming more familiar with firearms.
The National Rifle Association, for one, is conducting more training sessions directed at women. Its Women on Target program, which started in 2000 with 500 participants, had 9,500 attendees in 2011. (The NRA does not release figures for membership.)
For another, Coffey says her local chapter of Second Amendment Sisters, in Andover, N.H., has seen a big upswing in participants at its safety trainings and target practices. The Texas-based organization, founded in 1999, now has more than 10,000 members across the US.
Women also appear to be taking greater part in gun sports. Five million women took part in target shooting in 2011, a 51.5 percent jump from 2001, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Women who hunt increased 41.8 percent in the same period, from 1.8 million to 2.6 million, according to the association’s annual sports participation reports.
But personal safety is the overriding reason women become interested in guns, at least initially, experts agree.
“Women typically own guns for safety reasons, then branch out to target shooting and hunting,” says NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford. “Men, on the other hand, get into guns for hunting. Safety is a secondary concern.”
Paxton Quigley, the author of women’s self-defense and gun books, says broad lifestyle changes – women waiting longer to get married, choosing to live alone, and more ofter serving as head of household – coincides with women’s rising interest in guns.
“There is a different attitude now, that women need to take responsibility for their own safety,” she says.
In the past 20 years, Ms. Quigley has taught more than 7,000 women how to use a handgun – women who aren’t necessarily ardent Second Amendment supporters, but ordinary citizens who want to protect themselves.
“I’ve taught women from all walks of life – housewives, doctors, lawyers, and teachers,” she says.
Doubts persist, however, about the degree to which a gun improves personal safety. Having a gun in the home creates more risk, including higher rates of homicide victimization, suicide attempts, and accidental shootings, studies show.
A 2006 Gallup Poll found that 49 percent of women thought having a gun in the house made it more dangerous, while 39 percent thought it made the house safer. According to a recent Monitor/TIPP poll, 46 percent of households have guns.
A gun in the home can put women at higher risk of personal injury, says David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center in Cambridge, Mass.
“There is little evidence that guns are effective when it comes to self-defense,” he says.
In his book “Private Guns, Public Health,” Dr. Hemenway argues that in high-gun states (determined by average levels of household gun ownership), the rates at which women experience gun violence are higher than in low-gun states: 3.5 times higher for gun homicides, 6 times higher for gun suicide, and 7 times higher for accidental death by gun.
Nationwide, 52 percent of homicides in which women were the victims (about 1,700 in 2010) were committed with firearms, according to the Violence Policy Center’s analysis of 2010 FBI homicide data.
“Statistics show that when females are killed, it’s more likely, over 50 percent of the time, to be by a spouse or household member,” said Baltimore Police Chief Jim Johnson during a Senate hearing on gun violence Jan. 30. “A gun in a home where there is a history of domestic violence, statistics show that there is a 500 percent increase of chance that that person will be victimized by gun violence.”
Simone Smith, a marketing director in San Francisco, says she chooses not to rely on a gun for personal safety, but rather focuses on ways to reduce the likelihood of attracting criminals.
“I don’t want to have a loaded gun under my bed,” Ms. Smith says. “I wouldn’t sleep well.”
She has nothing against guns – she grew up in a family that used guns for recreation – but she says there are more effective things women can do for their personal security.
“Being aware of your neighborhood, making sure your curtains are closed, and having someone you can call will make more of a difference than having a gun,” Smith says.
Some gun-rights supporters – including women with guns – say some additional firearm controls, such as an assault-weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines, would help to curb gun violence.
“Handguns are more than enough for a woman to protect herself,” says Tom Cheffro, owner of Boston Firearms Training Center.
Amy Forbes, a teacher from Peabody, Mass., took Mr. Cheffro’s firearm safety training course so that she can apply for her firearm’s license and eventually buy a gun – one that would be easy for her to handle.
“You just don’t know what will happen,” Ms. Forbes says. During the hands-on training course, she learned safe handling and shooting techniques, which she says make her feel prepared for owning a weapon and defending herself.
But she supports stricter background checks for all gun sales to try to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental-health issues.
“I would support requiring a doctor’s note before being able to get a gun license, so people have to prove they are mentally stable,” says Forbes.
Atlanta Constitution, February 11, 2013
By Katie Leslie
Sydni Lee has lots of hobbies. She knits. She quilts. She raises money for three-day breast cancer walks. And she shoots guns. At least once a week, the 29-year-old Dahlonega woman visits the Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club in Cumming. And every other Thursday, she meets with a group called Sisters in Arms for a ladies’ night at the range. There, they try out each other’s pieces, hold target practice and afterward head to a nearby restaurant for margaritas. For Lee, owning and shooting guns isn’t a political stance. She’s not one to dish about gun policy. Shooting is a sport and, more importantly for her, a social outlet. “When you’re not from an area, you’re always looking for a way to meet people,” explains Lee, who moved to Georgia seven years ago. “I’m from Texas, where (guns) are a way of life.”
How many women practice that way of life, owning or regularly shooting guns, is a subject of endless debate. Despite recurring news stories and reports indicating that more women have taken up arms for sport or protection, the evidence is sketchy and in some instances contradictory.
Pro-gun advocates point to surveys that show an increase in the number of women participating in hunting and shooting sports. Anti-gun activists present research suggesting the opposite — that gun ownership has remained flat, if not on the decline, for 30 years.
Definitive numbers simply don’t exist. Federal laws prohibit The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from keeping registries of gun owners. Shop owners don’t know whether a buyer is purchasing a firearm for herself or as a gift. And though Georgians who apply for weapons carry permits indicate on the application whether they are male or female, neither county nor state officials compile gender statistics.
Overall, the number of U.S. households that own guns has declined in the past few decades. In 1977, more than half reported owning a gun; today it’s less than one-third, said Josh Sugarmann, founder and director of the Violence Policy Center. On the other hand, the people who do own guns tend to have more of them.
Tom Smith, who directs a center dedicated to social science research at the University of Chicago, has studied household gun ownership for several decades. He’s found that the number of women who report personally owning a gun hasn’t changed much since 1980. The latest data, from 2010, shows that 10 percent of women report owning a firearm.
In general, women are one-fifth as likely to own a gun as men, he said.
Another study, by researchers at the University of California at Davis, found roughly similar numbers. Based on multiple national surveys, they estimated that 7 percent to 8 percent of women and 26 percent to 30 percent of men own a handgun.
Such numbers tell only part of the story, because so many women have access to guns through other members of their household, said Mary Zeiss Stange, a women’s studies professor at Skidmore College. Even though a woman may not see the weapon as her possession, she may use it, said Stange, who has written books on women and firearms.
“The precise rate of women’s gun use, exclusively by women, is hard to gauge,” said Stange, an avid hunter.
Anecdotal evidence does suggest that more women are arming themselves. The number of women participating in target shooting increased from 3.3 million to 5.1 million between 2001 and 2011, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. The association also found an increase in women who hunt. And several gun shop owners interviewed for this story reported seeing more female customers and women enrolled in gun safety courses than in previous years.
Paxton Quigley, author of “Armed & Female: Taking Control,” said long-term demographic and social trends impel many women toward guns.
“A lot of that has to do with changes in women’s position in society,” said Quigley, who says she has taught more than 7,000 women to shoot. She herself took up arms in the late 1980s after a close friend was sexually assaulted.
With the decline in the marriage rate, more women are living alone, more women are raising children alone and more women are working, she said. The net result: “More and more women are learning how to shoot for self-defense,” she said.
Liza Kirby, who coordinates the Sisters in Arms club at the Cumming range, notes that many married women also want to feel competent to defend themselves. “It’s not the ’50s anymore where the husbands took care of everything,” she said.
For her part, having a gun is part of rural life. Her husband owns rifles for hunting, while she prefers handguns for target practice and home defense, particularly against varmints. Kirby, 56, keeps a Smith & Wesson .38 Special in a kitchen drawer to scare off animals that threaten her chickens.
But Sugarmann, of the Violence Policy Center, isn’t convinced by reports of an increase in female gun ownership. “I would put it this way: I’m highly skeptical,” he said. “I’ve seen this push every five or six years.”
He understands why such stories tend to persist in the culture. Female gun ownership is undoubtedly a sexy topic. “It’s fun, it’s cool, it goes against what people expect,” he said.
The gun industry has also marketed aggressively to women in recent years, in part to offset falling ownership among men, said Smith of the University of Chicago.
“They knew women were underrepresented and now they gave them a rationale: not to shoot the 9-point buck, but the assailant who will break into your house,” he said.
It’s a sales pitch that resonates for many women.
Chloe Morris was staunchly anti-gun until 2008, when her aunt was beaten, tied up and held hostage for ransom with her children in her DeKalb County home. After that, Morris’ aunt and mother began building an arsenal, she said.
But it wasn’t until Morris’ mother bought her a firearm and she attended a gun safety course that she felt comfortable with guns.
“The class changed my life,” said Morris, who soon became a regular at the range and eventually a pistol instructor. She’s now a recruiter for the NRA.
She teaches for free, she said, focusing on helping women become comfortable with guns. She believes women hesitate to own the weapons because of cultural conditioning.
“When you’re little, boys are taught to play with guns and girls are taught to play with Barbie dolls,” said Morris, 30, whose other hobbies include writing a food blog. “Once you know more about safety and you go to class, you know you can use it responsibly.”
Katie Jones Gant said responsibility is exactly why she’s learning to shoot. Gant, of Atlanta, was neutral toward guns until she married a homicide detective. Now the mother of two believes that if her husband keeps guns in the house, she should know how to use them.
Gant, 29, pointed to the recent story of a Loganville mother who shot an intruder as a nightmare scenario in which the good gal won. “As a mom, and really as a woman gun owner, I’m not looking for a fight,” said Gant, a makeup artist by trade. “I don’t want to use my gun on someone and I hope I don’t have to, but if someone puts me in that position or threatens my kids, absolutely.”
Chloe Morris, from Johns Creek, shoots her Glock 17 at the Bulls Eye Marksman Range in Cumming. Sisters in Arms and A Girl and a Gun are women’s shooting groups that regularly hold events at the club.
By MARIN COGAN, Published: February 7, 2013
When Niki Jones, a longtime New Yorker relocated to Austin, Texas, needed a group to practice using her new concealed-carry weapon with, she was shocked that she couldn’t find a woman-friendly league. So in July 2010 she founded Austin Sure Shots, a free, women-only gun club focused on target shooting. Soon their ranks swelled to almost 300; a local firm of current and former military and police firearms instructors took the women under their tutelage, teaching them defensive shooting. After learning to shoot semi-automatic AR-15 style rifles, a dozen of the women decided to make custom versions of the gun. Niki had her AR-15 railed handguard coated white and named the gun “Snow Queen.” Another Sure Shot, Mandy, had hers painted periwinkle and decked out in daisies. Other women had their handguns custom-coated pink and decorated with cupcakes and Hello Kitty.
Spend a few minutes scrolling through the websites of gun dealers and you might be forgiven for thinking America is a nation of Gayle Trotters: women using the language of feminism to demand the “right to choose to defend ourselves,” as the gun-rights activist put it in her Senate testimony last week. Three of the top six U.S. gun-makers — Smith & Wesson, Remington, and Sig Sauer — have pages or products dedicated to the prospective female gun owner, offering smaller lightweight models, shorter trigger pulls, and grips designed for smaller hands. There are rifle cartridges designed to reduce recoil, holsters designed to fit between a woman’s décolletage, and high-end concealed-carry purses. There’s a lot of pink: pink camouflage gun cases and pink Pumpmaster Air Rifles and pink tipped bullets and pink assault rifles.
Trying to determine the exact number of women who own guns in America is, like every other aspect of the gun control debate, controversial. “We don’t have fresh data. We don’t have anything new — that’s a huge problem,” notes journalist Caitlin Kelly, who struggled to find solid, impartial data while researching her book Blown Away: American Women and Guns. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association would have you believe the number is 30 million; more conservative estimates put the number at 15 million. A 2011 Gallup survey put the number of women who reported personally owning a gun at 23 percent, as opposed to 46 percent of adult men — 10 percent more than they measured two years prior. Nevertheless, according to an aggregate five-year study from Gallup, men are three times more likely than women to own a gun. A recent General Social Survey put the number of women gun owners closer to one in ten.
It’s not an accident that women have become more visible as gun consumers. In the late eighties, after a slump in sales, gun-makers turned their attention to women customers, both to respond to the female gun enthusiasts already among them and to spread into a new market of women who were gun curious. In 1989, Smith & Wesson released a line of LadySmith handguns. The same year, a gun enthusiast named Sonny Jones launched Women and Guns magazine, a journal that reviews gun accessories and celebrates female firearm owners. Pro-gun group Second Amendment Foundation acquired the magazine a few years later; Jones went on to run an NRA program for women’s self-defense called “Refuse to Be a Victim.” Over the years, the NRA has expanded female outreach efforts to include shooting clinics, hunting groups, and wilderness escapes.
“As far as gun manufacturers, I think they are finally beginning to take notice of the sheer number of women shooters that are out there,” Niki Jones, the Sure Shots founder, said in an interview. “Some seem to still be a bit tentative and consider including pink accessories in their product line as ‘catering to women,’ but most are actually really starting to get it.” Several manufacturers, she notes, have supported her league, sending new products for them to test and evaluate, the same way cosmetics manufacturers send product samples to women’s magazines.
Much as feminist writers criticized Trotter last week for insisting that guns were a “great equalizer” making women safer from violent crime, women’s groups and feminists have long been critical of gun culture. In 1992, following public outcry, the editors of Ladies’ Home Journal apologized for running a full page Colt ad depicting a mother tucking her child into bed above two semiautomatic weapons. “Self-protection is more than your right … it’s your responsibility,” the ad read. In the ensuing controversy, a Smith & Wesson official pitched the new efforts as a sign of feminist progress: “Firearms are one of the last bastions of male dominance,” he said. “Today, in 1992, it’s OK for women to be CEOs of companies and go into space as astronauts, so why shouldn’t they own guns?”
The efforts to convince more women to buy guns appalled many in the feminist movement, including Betty Friedan, who called the effort to cast gun ownership as feminist a “horrifying, obscene perversion of feminism” and helped create Women Against Gun Violence, in part to organize women, a majority of whom favor gun control, and to raise awareness about the increased risk of death for women who live in homes with guns, especially the victims of domestic violence.
Nevertheless, the role guns play in male-on-female violence came up last week in Gayle Trotter’s testimony, too. When Senator Sheldon Whitehouse questioned Trotter’s opposition to banning assault rifles, she retorted, “You are a large man, tall man, a tall man … You cannot understand. You are not a woman stuck in her house, not able to defend her children.” A similar debate happened in 1990, when Paxton Quigley, a pro-choice Democrat, emerged on the scene. Quigley said she was against guns until one of her closest friends was raped by a home invader. “I said, this is never going to happen to me. I’m going to learn how to shoot,” she remembers. At the time, none of her friends knew how to use a gun, and all of them discouraged her from learning. “I started doing research and there was a Gallup poll done at the time that said 12 million American women own guns for self-defense and there were no books written on the subject. I said, I’m going to write a book on it.” Accordingly, Quigley published Armed and Female: Twelve Million American Women Own Guns, Should You?, making her the self-appointed poster girl for the empowered lady gun owner. Smith & Wesson took her on as a spokesperson and sent her to tour the country, giving gun-shop talks on self-defense, autograph-signing, and shopping advice for women who wanted to know which gun might work best for them. “I always felt that by learning how to shoot a gun it does give a woman more of a feeling of empowerment,” Quigley told me. She is quick to note, however, that she supports stricter gun control measures.
Today there’s a new wave of Paxton Quigleys connecting and finding audiences online, including forums like the Girl’s Guide to Guns, a publication from L.A.-based gun enthusiast Natalie Foster that features advice on purchasing handguns, a reaction to this summer’s Aurora shooting, and instructions for DIY shotgun shell ornaments; and Packing Pretty, a blog from 25-year-old Gracie McKee, an NRA instructor who wears pink polo shirts and once posted a video demonstrating how to carry a concealed weapon under a little black dress. There are concealed-carry fashion shows and meet-ups like at the first annual A Girl and a Gun National Conference, to be held next month in Waco, Texas, and with sponsorship from Smith & Wesson. No word yet on whether man cards will be passed out or revoked.
I know that we feel terrible and very sad about what happened in Connecticut last week. The horrific incident has led many of us to question not only why it occurred, but how such senseless violent acts can be stopped.
These are some questions that have been posed by people in the media? Do we need more laws? Do we need better community mental health outreach? Is there too much media violence? Should teachers be trained and have guns in the classroom? Should more people be diagnosed with mental problems and be put on pharmaceutical drugs or are these “legal” drugs the problem that causes violence?
I’d like to know your opinions and feelings on the subject and would appreciate if you would write your opinions.
Great article in The Daily Beast.
I do “carry” when I am out by myself….especially when I was training for my marathon last Dec……I would be up at 0400!….and when I hike by myself!
Both my husband and I did get concealed weapon permits……took the course over in Scottsdale at the big gun club over there…..and we do shoot our weapons at targets probably not as often as we should.
Thank you for introducing me to “guns” in the first place….I am still a very good shot!
By ABIGAIL PESTA, Published: July 25, 2012
As the debate over gun control rages in the wake of the Colorado shootings, one self-defense expert tells Abigail Pesta that handguns play an important role in society: they stop rape.
Paxton Quigley remembers the moment she decided to get a gun. It was more than two decades ago, when a female friend in Los Angeles called her late one night with some terrible news. A stranger had broken into her home through a bathroom window. She had called 911, but the police had arrived too late—a half hour after a brutal rape.
“I asked my friend, ‘If you’d had a gun, do you think you could have stopped the attacker?’” Quigley recalls. “She said yes.”
Quigley took a gun course soon after. “I had never shot a gun. I had never touched a gun. I was actually antigun,” says Quigley, who was working in public relations in Los Angeles at the time. “But I thought, ‘This is never going to happen to me.’”…
I was interviewed on Al Jazeera TV on May 15, 2012. The producers of the segment were very interested in the phenomena of the numbers of women, who are learning how to shoot guns for self-defense and or hunting. The first few minutes of the interview give an overview of the American female gun environment and then I’m interviewed. I hope you enjoy it!