Heard on All Things Considered
Ray’s Sporting Goods in Dallas’ Oak Cliff is a neighborhood firearm dreamland.
It’s stocked with the latest pistols, shotguns and AR-15 military-style rifles. Chuck Payne, the store’s manager, says he has sold to a lot more women recently.
“A lot of married ladies with their husbands, some without, but they’ve decided that their husband’s not home, they need to be able to do something and they need a different gun than what their husband had,” Payne says.
“Most concealed- and open-carry holsters are made for men,” says Carrie Lightfoot, CEO of The Well-Armed Woman, an online store based in Arizona. She says a woman’s body shape and size are important considerations when it comes to open or concealed carry.
“For example, a 32A bust could not conceal a Glock 19 very well — nor would a 42DD or a larger tummy allow for effective cross-draw carry,” she says.
Lightfoot sells bra holsters, concealment leggings, lace waistbands and leopard print gun holders for cars. She says sales are up 130 percent since the summer.
Still, the vast majority of women don’t openly carry. And that means one of the hottest accessories is the concealed-carry purse, which is Kate Woolstenhulme’s business.
In her Plano, Texas, home office, Woolstenhulme unpacks one of her newest designs: a black leather purse with a herringbone embossed pattern. She introduced her first line of concealed-carry bags in 2009, after failing to track down a handbag that was both safe and fashionable for her 9 mm Beretta Nano handgun.
“I was interested in making something that really functioned and yet still making sure that it looked as if that woman had walked into Nordstrom’s or Neiman’s or Marshalls or whatever they shop at,” Woolstenhulme says.
The ostrich and crocodile-skin handbags sell for thousands of dollars. Others are a few hundred. Many of the bags have exterior holster pockets — all of them have locking devices.
The National Sporting Goods Association report found that women who bought a gun in the last year spent on average $870 on firearms and more than $400 on accessories.
Both Woolstenhulme and Lightfoot warn women to choose new holsters and bags wisely — just because it’s made in pink doesn’t guarantee it was designed for a woman’s body.
Feature image: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
From gun hater to gun owner, a firsthand experience of the right to bear arms
By Michael Sullivan 01/21/2016
Being born of a nurse and a school teacher in Ventura in 1980, guns were not a part of my regular vocabulary growing up, much less family recreational activities. When I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at age 18, I met a young man in a hippy-esque neighborhood who had tried to kill himself with a gun, but survived and ended up with a big hole in his head where his eye and temple used to be. That was my first real encounter with gun carnage. Through my young adulthood, my personal experiences with guns only proved to me how dangerous they were — and this came well before latching onto any sort of political identity. Now, at age 35, my conviction is strongly against easier access to guns and a heavily armed society. But that conviction is not an American idea.
In order to try to understand why gun-rights advocates are so protective of not only their guns but the easiest access to them, claiming protection and safety issues, especially after gun sales skyrocketed after San Bernardino, I decided to cross my own personal and ethical boundaries and become a gun owner. This is my daily account of that experience.
Thursday, Dec. 3
I’ve been sick for weeks over the recent mass murders in Paris, Mali, Planned Parenthood and, well, yesterday, San Bernardino. It makes me ill but it doesn’t seem to faze gun-rights advocates. Apparently, this senseless loss of life is the price Americans pay for the right to own not just guns but assault rifles, or rather semi-automatic rifles. So as an American, fearful and sick of carnage, I wonder if owning a rifle or a handgun would change my view on these advocates and even the weapons themselves. Perhaps the process of gun ownership would make me feel that only sane and rational people can legally purchase guns. Maybe I would feel safer owning a gun. There was only one way to find out.
Contemplation and Exploration
Friday, Dec. 4
It’s amazing how much thought goes into buying a gun. This morning I considered where I would store a semi-automatic rifle. My office is inappropriate. Home feels strange since mine is in a nice little community and holding onto such a weapon feels like a nuclear bomb. Maybe a storage facility. I even called: $56 a month for 5×5 space.
Now off to the gun store in Oxnard. Inside, it’s business as usual. Mostly men, several older, some 30-somethings, a few 20-somethings, a couple of military guys and three women, including me.
Two 30-somethings were scoping out the gun case; one was looking at what appeared to be a hunting rifle.
An older guy asked for a certain kind of semi-automatic rifle — bulky, black and ominous. I wondered what he would be shooting with it later or if it was just one to add to his collection. He didn’t look like a novice.
These customers probably just enjoy shooting as a hobby, not killing humans. I know they weren’t doing anything wrong but it just seemed so quick after San Bernardino to be putting more highly lethal weapons into circulation in our communities.
I didn’t make any moves to purchase. I would be back soon.
Sunday, Dec. 6
I called my dad to let him know I was considering buying a gun. Given we are on the same page about guns, I wasn’t surprised when he said that the idea is a step into the netherworld and I could have blood on my hands if the gun fell into the wrong hands.
Monday, Dec. 7
My mother, who works at a community college, talked to me about the new run, hide and fight active shooter drills. My son told me about a speaker at his middle school who was at a nearby cafe in Paris on Nov. 13.
This is the new world, living in fear of mass shootings. While humans have always been violent, with the rapid spread of information, we know just how violent we are all of the time.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
My colleague called. He told me about my choices to purchase a gun online:
- Add to cart.
- Pick up at dealer.
With a clean background check, practically anything is possible.
Selection and Purchase
Wednesday, Dec. 9
One thing was obvious: mass murder is good for the gun business. Upon returning to the Oxnard store with my colleague, a clerk told us that prior to Paris and San Bernardino, they were selling 20 guns a day. Now, it’s 40. Another clerk said there used to be a typical kind of customer who would come in for a gun — an older white male. Now it’s anyone and everyone. I am a part of this abnormal demographic and so are women in general. She also spoke of several phone conversations, one where a man asked her if he should now buy a gun because of the mass shootings. She said, basically, “Yes, it’s the new normal.”
We got our ticket, number 47. We arrived at 28. We waited about an hour and a half. Among those in front of us: several older men mainly, but there were a few young ones as well, including one waiting for his fiancée and one 30-something with a shaved head and some tattoos. There were also an older couple; a young woman in a tank top with tattoos, holding her toddler daughter in her arms; and a 60-plus-year-old woman with long, white, wavy hair in a pink shirt.
We were next in line behind the man who was waiting for his fiancée. From what I could gather, he was reserve military, said he hadn’t bought a gun in 11 years and now was the time. He chose some sort of semi-automatic rifle, black and blockish. A female clerk told him that the gun’s magazine had to be detached with a tool. He seemed disappointed but she said it was state law. That gun cost $2,000. His fiancée showed up and started looking at handguns. She was clearly no novice as she comfortably gripped the gun as any rock star would a microphone. The clerk told the man he could save $30 by doing both of their background checks at the same time. The fiancée, however, decided against taking the gun safety test. He said that she wimped out.
Finally, my turn. The impetus of this project was to buy a semi-automatic rifle, something similar to what was used in these mass shootings, to see how easy these weapons are to access and if owning one would somehow change my opinion about them. I found one on sale, a Smith and Wesson M&P 15-.22 rifle at $359, plus two free boxes of rounds.
The clerk found the last one in stock and brought it to me. When she took it out of the box and handed it to me, my first thought was, how the heck do I hold this thing? I just held it in two hands, palms up, holding it over the gun case. The clerk told me that I had to take the gun safety test to move forward with the purchase, which, she said, is basically common sense.
I took the test — multiple choice. While there is a 46-page study guide for the test online, I took my chances. I passed, failing two out of 30. If I had failed this test, I could retake it the next day. While the test is overly simple, I did find out that — and I made a lucky guess — sales or transfers can only happen along the bloodline from child to parent and grandparent, etc., and vice versa without a licensed dealer.
Now that I passed the safety test, I began to consider my gun options, specifically that M&P 15-.22 rifle. For a first-time gun owner or perhaps for any person not active in the military, for that matter, such a choice was ridiculous. A handgun, however, was different. Small. Compact. Easy to handle. Not so absurd.
After deciding between the cheapest handgun and an easier-to-use and more popular version, I chose the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9 mm. My friend said that it felt like butter in his hand. And it did. My Second Amendment right fulfilled in my grip. As I made my purchase, the clerk told me that she owned four handguns, an assault rifle and a .22. Quite a collection. For my new Shield: $431, plus $30 for the background check and $25 for my safety certificate.
My background check was on its way to the California Department of Justice to review my criminal history for felonies and/or any admittance to a mental health facility. The background check would be done on Dec. 19, a mandated 10-day waiting period.
Merry Christmas to me.
Thursday, Dec. 10
Today begins another series of waiting periods. Day 1 of my background check. Day 1 of the waiting period when I might decide not to get a gun. I guess this is supposed to be some proverbial cooling-off period for potential homicidal maniacs. From my perspective, 10 days seems short if one has years of hostility and rage built up — recall the Isla Vista rampage? (Didn’t the shooter, Elliot Rodger, buy his gun at the store I just visited?) I think a more suitable waiting period should be more like 10 years.
Friday, Dec. 11
Telling all my nearest and dearest — the breakdown of responses goes like this: emotional roller coaster; frustrated but understanding; totally fine with whatever choice I make, so fine that this friend wants me to read up on Info Wars and see how much more dangerous kitchen knives are than guns.
Second Amendment Fulfilled
Wednesday, Dec. 23
Pickup day. I just got the chance today but I had to pick it up before 30 days or I would have to go through this whole process again.
My colleague and I decided that in order to avoid any likelihood of a well-intended project going wrong, he would keep the ammunition and I would keep the gun.
At 3:04 p.m., I became an official gun owner. A male clerk told me I should not get live ammo after watching me nervously trying to load and unload an empty magazine.
There was a fair amount of pressure to do it right, to understand how it works, to make sure my finger is straight and watch where the gun is pointing. I did this loading and unloading of a dummy bullet several times, and each time I felt a little more uneasy. The thought of people who have hurt others just trying to load and unload a gun as well as clean it ran through my head, including when I lived in Fresno and my neighbor blew buckshot through his wall and injured a loved one. While the clerk expressed sincerely that I should use a dummy bullet at home to learn how to load and unload, the store didn’t have any for sale. He told me to go home and buy one on Amazon. I skipped that option and bought live ammo instead.
A woman at the counter next to me asked about my choice of gun. I told her that it was my first and I really knew nothing about it other than that it was 9 mm. She then told us she wanted to get her son up and firing as soon as possible. She said he was 12 years old.
A man behind me at the counter gave me some advice: “It’s just like learning how to drive a car, kiddo.” I fundamentally disagree. In order to learn how to drive a car legally, the person learning how to drive has be with a licensed driver who is also insured, in case of an accident. Also, in order to get my license and to be able to drive a car without another licensed driver in the vehicle, I have to pass a written and an actual driving test. To own and use my new handgun, all I have to do is pass a background check, i.e., I can’t be a felon or be clinically diagnosed as a danger to myself or others, and have a basic understanding of common-sense principles.
At the Gun Range
Wednesday, Dec. 30
Time to learn how to shoot this thing: a 30-minute wait, apparently one of the busier times of the week or maybe the year. While we were waiting, the clerk in the gun shop at the range told us about gun sales right after San Bernardino, that at 5 o’clock that day, the shop was packed, filled with customers, mainly buying smaller guns, like mine. “Couldn’t keep them in stock,” he said. He said about three-quarters of the buyers were new gun owners.
At the window of the range, we watched shooters using various targets. For our gun range package deal, silhouetted human shapes were our only options besides some really tough and small targets. Why we need to practice on human-like targets, as if there is any point in learning how to shoot someone who is holding perfectly still as we hold perfectly still, is beyond me. We chose one target of a blank silhouette and another of a silhouette armed with two guns. Then we waited our turn.
On entering the range, the noise was overwhelming, so loud the ground vibrated. I think that I was the only one grimacing in pain. As the shooting went on and the shells kept flying, my struggle to load one of the ultra-stiff clips that came with my gun made me shake with nervousness and frustration. And the free ear protection that came with our package, two pieces of orange foam, was pointless.
Finally, locked and loaded — fire! My first time, I shot three bullets of the seven that were loaded at the blank silhouette. I was having trouble getting the gun to actually shoot. I had to keep checking the chamber to see if there was a bullet in it, because after pulling the trigger a few times it wouldn’t fire. By doing this a bullet would eject from the chamber. It would have been nice if it were required that I learn how to use this gun before I bought it because I was in fear that it was going to backfire in my face.
Second time, I shot seven rounds as the shells from my own gun hit me in the face. The gun’s recoil is almost uncontrollable. It was all so loud and frightening, just terrifying to think of San Bernardino. All of that rapid fire made me just want to duck and hide, not fight. Sure, everyone says that they would take on an attacker until they are actually being attacked.
My goggles steamed up. I let out a little cry each time I fired. It was all so startling.
Third time around we used a target of the armed silhouette. I tried to shoot the gun in the target’s hand; I shot the barrel once. Then I shot the figure in the neck and several other places. I can’t imagine trying to be calm and precise while shooting in a life-threatening situation regardless of the training.
Target practice on armed silhouette, aiming for the gun — one shot to the barrel of the gun and one to the neck.
There was a young woman, a teenager, behind us; her knee was bobbing quickly. I saw a young boy in the range earlier, maybe 7 years old, and I don’t recall him using any sort of decent ear protection.
Still in the lane, I placed the gun down but didn’t check the chamber to make sure there was no bullet — scared myself again.
As my friend took his turn, I spoke to the young girl, 18, now seated next to her mom; it was her first time. I asked the girl about her experience: loud! She told me that she came with her dad. As I walked away, the dad, who had been shooting in the lane, turned to look at his wife and daughter, beaming with pride and a slight smile.
I did feel more at ease shooting a target that was pointing a gun at me. I probably would have felt even better shooting at something like a bull’s-eye target.
I saw my mom shortly after. Regarding the fact that I now owned a gun, her response, “I don’t want anything to happen to you or [your son].” I told her that my friend was keeping the ammunition. She seemed relieved.
Important to note: It’s become apparent to me that some gun owners think that, while it’s their constitutional right to own one, they also seem to think everyone should own one, learn how to use it and not be scared of it.
I also suspect that owning a gun for self-defense is not really why so many own them. Some people just like owning guns for recreational purposes.
In the Moment and into the Future
Thursday, Jan. 14
Posing for the cover shoot seemed so commercial, promoting gun ownership. I suppose it doesn’t really matter what it was other than it was the truth: I own a gun now. Gun ownership, however, doesn’t make me feel safe but I do know that having a gun with live ammo together wherever I store them makes me feel unsafe, period. I don’t know if I will sell it yet. Surely there is plenty more to learn; perhaps I will even take my place in the year-long wait for a concealed-carry weapons permit, for which applicants no longer need “good cause.” The Sheriff’s Department has seen a 307 percent jump from November to December.
I don’t know if this story is finished and I am also not sure that my view on guns has changed. One thing is clear, though, I have now crossed a line that can never be undone.
20 Feet From Deafness
Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit in the 1960s, deer season was a part of life.
Starting around Thanksgiving it just blended in with the holidays and was a major part of the economy of northern Michigan, especially the state’s upper peninsula.
My parents were both deer hunters so the fact that there were two .30-30, Winchester rifles stuffed into a closet at the bottom of the stairs was in no way unusual.
No scopes. Lever action. Old school.
As a kid I would sometimes rummage around in that closet, pull those rifles out and “play” with them. Along with the sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun, a .22-caliber varmint rifle and a few other various firearms that were accessible to me around the house.
Some would say that my parents were negligent having those weapons unlocked and accessible to curious young children and at this point in my life, I wouldn’t argue. But those were different times and I never saw any ammunition for those guns.
As I got a little older I attended a classic rite-of-passage, city-sponsored “rifle” class at a place called The Chip. All boys in my town took rifle class at age 12, and as part of the class we were automatically enrolled as life members of the NRA.
I remember thinking how grown-up I felt when I received the membership card.
This uniquely American, early firearm indoctrination, sanctioned and supported by the NRA, led me to have an appreciation for the hardware and an understanding of the power of the gun and the sport of shooting.
I say all this because while I grew up with and understand the sport I no longer see any point in it, and ideologically have moved to the extreme left of gun ownership.
For me, Sandy Hook did that.
I had been gradually moving in that direction for some years but when 20 first-graders are slaughtered in their classroom, I no longer see any point for over 300 million registered guns in this country to exist.
After seeing a full-page ad in a local daily paper for every imaginable type of firearm, including a sale on an assault rifle similar to or exactly like one of the two weapons used in the San Bernardino shootings, VCR editor Michael Sullivan decided to cross over, buy one and try to get her head around why so many people want to own a firearm.
I decided to accompany her from start to finish partly because I have some cursory knowledge of guns, partly because we would need some art to go with any story she may decide to write and partly because I wanted to go to the range with her and shoot.
After all, shooting is fun, right?
But after Michael fired the first round at the range with her brand-new 9mm she put the gun down (actually, she nearly threw it to the ground) and fought back tears as she looked around at me and all the other, mostly male shooters in the range.
One round, shooting at a paper target and she was broken-hearted.
One round and she found out what she needed to know. She didn’t need to shoot any more, but she did.
And that is not to say that she is weak (she is most definitely not) or just reacting the way so many women might react.
I was also profoundly affected. Emotionally and physically.
The decibel levels in the room. The sheer destructive power of lead projectiles traveling at over 1,000 feet per second is nothing if not intense.
Between us we fired approximately 100 rounds.
I left the range that day with nearly 90 percent hearing loss that lasted at least 48 hours and yes, I had the squishy ear plugs.
— T Christian Gapen
There are times when reviewing collections or simply looking through the pages of Vogue when fashion can get a bit dull. Too many of the same things, too many fluffy chiffon dresses or frilly feathered dresses and it’s that moment when my eyes glaze over and I lose focus that my mind wanders and I usually come up with some great fashion ideas. Like today for example. Today I want to write a tribute to Uzi’s Machine Guns, and all other types of handheld shooting devices in the world of fashion.
So without further ado, I present The Marquis of Fashion’s Runway Gun Range! Step right up and see the oddities that have graced the runways or music videos that have a gun attached to a necklace, a gun embedded in the heel of a shoe, or a gun somewhere on the articles of clothing that follow. Don’t be shy they won’t shoot, their simply captions of items both recent and from the recent past that have made an impact in fashion’s history. Get it… Impact… it’s a gun! … Tough crowd.
Flip through the pages below to see the amazing gun/fashion products that are busting a cap in fashion’s @ss. But in case you are too lazy to flip through I’ll provide you with this first image of Karl Lagerfeld and his Chanel Gun Shoe! Chanel… I know right! I’m sure Coco is rolling in her grave. Oooooor laughing hysterically I can’t quite peg it.
Who could forget the fembots and their interesting gun bras? Or Lady Gaga for that matter and her Machine Gun dance sequence for Alejandro? Or this photo for Rolling Stones Magazine… Amazing!
If you can’t accessorize with a gun then what is the point of guns in the first place… Don’t answer that. This Uzi ring is exceptionally complimenting for a ombre colored nail polish. or this glittery machine gun necklace. GORGE!
This flashy gun belt buckle is so hot in Japan right now but lets let our love of high-powered embellishments cross borders and bring this trend right into our homes.
Okay this is hilarious and scary at the same tie because it’s a real gun. The hat is I believe a concept mostly because the gun is fired by using your mouth. Or something. I’m not sure it’s all very confusing but never-the-less, the thing is an accessory. I dont’ recommend letting a youngster play toy soldier with this one though.
Congrats you made it to the end and for that I give you this spectacular treat. A hoof heel, that has been made into a high heel, that has a gun as the heel… I know what you’re thinking, “Mark, Where do I get one?” and the answer may surprise you. I’m not going to tell you. To be honest if I saw someone wearing this I would run in the other direction screaming something about the Apocalypse and Quentin Tarantino. So to avoid my embarrassment let’s just stick with the Chanel pump.
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Lisa Looper is founder of Looper Brand, makers of the new The Looper Flash Bang Bra Holster.
An open-bottomed kydex mold is made for specific gun models like snubbie revolvers, Kel-Tec‘s, Ruger LCP‘s, Sig P238‘s and similar guns. The leather strap with a metal snap attaches the kydex assembly to the bra, and tucks up between the cleavage.
I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding about the whole “pink gun” controversy. Certainly, plenty of Neanderthals have mistakenly assumed pink guns equate to guns for women. Even manufacturers and retailers have mistakenly made this type of generalization. I have a different point of view. I am all in favor of pink guns. I’m also in favor of yellow, tan, olive drab, and purple guns. Charcoal-gray also interests me. To me, the whole color issue is about personalizing a possession that’s important to us.
Many people buy distinctive cell phone cases, and we’ve all heard those embarrassing custom ring tones at inopportune times. So I think the pink gun thing gained momentum because some women like pink. Then again, some women don’t like pink. My daughter happens to be a woman, and she prefers black guns. Looking around nearly any golf course or country club cocktail party, you can tell a lot of guys like pink, too. Colored guns aren’t all about men and women; they’re about personal preference.
Here lies the real point. People have different tastes. Recently, I’ve really been digging polymer guns with desert tan or flat dark-earth frames. They look particularly spiffy with a black slide. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to customize your gun’s color scheme as it is to find an iPhone case to suit your tastes. But if your pistol or revolver has removable grips, the odds are that someone out there is making some pretty darn unique custom replacement grips. Here are some examples that caught my attention.
Check out this .45 ACP by Arsenal. Its double barrel action is singled triggered packing a lot of horsepower.
Jerry Mitchel demonstrates knocking the target over with 18 of twenty rounds.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency often helps people find things they have lost. But they have never had to help a client find herself—until now, in this latest installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling and beloved series.
A kindhearted brother and sister have taken in a woman known only as “Mrs.”—a woman with no memory of her name or of how she came to Botswana. And so it’s up to Precious Ramotswe and her new co-director, Grace Makutsi, to discover the woman’s identity.
Meanwhile, motherhood proves to be no obstacle to Mma Makutsi’s professional success. As she settles into her role as partner at the agency, she also launches a new enterprise of her own: the Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café, a restaurant for Gaborone’s most fashionable diners. But even Miss 97 Per Cent isn’t fully prepared for the temperamental chefs, drunken waiters, and other challenges that come with running one’s own business. Help may come from an unexpected source, if only Mma Makutsi can swallow her pride and ask.
And next door to the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is all too familiar with the difficult decisions of business owners. He is finally forced to make a tough choice, one that will bring major changes to both Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency—and that will require all of Mma Ramotswe’s finesse and patience to sort out.
With sympathy and indefatigable good humor, Mma Ramotswe and her friends see one another through these major changes and discover along the way what true friendship really means.
Gaston Glock, creator of the world-renowned Glock pistol, has been accused of racketeering, fraud and money laundering by his ex-wife in a lawsuit filed in a federal court in Atlanta last week.
In the 354-page complaint, Helga Glock, 78, and her attorney invoke the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to claim that he used fraudulent and criminal methods to steal her share of the company.
Gaston, along with some partners and a number of Glock’s subsidiaries, allegedly used a web of fictitious legal relationships, offshore business entities and international transactions to steal and launder funds, with the intention of keeping money and assets hidden from Helga.
Gaston and Helga founded Glock together in 1963, a year after they married, as a machine shop in Austria. The company later made curtain rods and other odds and ends, but it wasn’t until 1980 that Gaston started putting together designs for a polymer pistol. By 1982, his final design was adopted by the Austrian military and law enforcement.
Gaston Glock, center, bought his wife Kathrin a $15 million horse in May.
In 1983 — when both Helga and Gaston were the only two shareholders of the company — Glock started making bids to enter the U.S. market, according to the complaint. Soon, several law enforcement agencies around the country would adopt the pistol and later it rapidly gained success in the civilian market.
Glock now commands 65 percent of the market share for U.S. law enforcement agencies, and supplies guns to military and law enforcement to more than 48 countries and to civilians in more than 100. The company has an estimated annual revenue of $400 million.
In 2011, after more than 50 years of marriage, Gaston, now 85, divorced Helga, cut ties with their three grown children, and then married a 31-year-old woman (a nurse who aided him after a stroke in 2008).
Helga is seeking $500 million plus unspecified punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
This may sound like a sexist question, but it’s one that I am asked all the time—and usually by women, themselves. The problem is, women have unique preferences and needs, just like men do. Furthermore, there is no reason why a woman can’t handle the same weapons a man can.
The truth is, any person (male or female) in the market for a gun needs to spend some time at a gun range trying out a wide variety of guns. Some will fit better in your hands than others, some will be more comfortable to carry, some will be easier to shoot, etc.
That being said, when someone asks about the best gun for women, they are usually asking for a recommendation on a small gun with little recoil but adequate stopping power for self-defense. For people who are looking guns that meet these criteria, the guns in the list below all fit the bill and might be a good place to start your search. Oh, and if you are looking for something a bit more feminine than the average firearm, be sure to check out the last gun in the list.
The Nighthawk Lady Hawk was designed with the ladies in mind. It is essentially a model 1911 with a smaller frame and a thinner grip. It comes standard as a single-action 9 mm but can be purchased chambered for .45 ACP. As this is a customized gun created out of demand for a “girl’s gun,” it will set you back nearly $3,500.
The Ruger SR9c is the SR9’s compact little sister. It features a slim grip and a weight of just 24 ounces. It is chambered for 9mm ammo and has surprisingly light recoil. It doesn’t have the easiest slide in the world but it’s also not the heaviest. Most users will probably find that they get used to the slide with a little practice. Brand new, this gun retails for about $500.
The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield is sleek and slim making it ideal for concealed carry. It weighs in at a light 19 ounces and is only about 6 inches in length. In spite of its size, the M&P Shield comes chambered for either 9mm or .40 S&W giving it full stopping power with surprisingly manageable recoil. The gun retails for about $450.
The Ruger LCP is a tiny gun known as a pocket pistol. It weighs a miniscule 9.4 ounces. The gun is chambered for .380 ammunition, which is considered by many to be too weak for self-defense. However, special self-defense rounds are available which increases the gun’s stopping power. The basic model starts at just under $400.
Billed as a “short-action 1911,” the Springfield EMP is a smaller, lighter version of a standard M1911. As such, it shoots the shorter 9mm and .40 S&W rounds which still give it ample stopping power for self defense. It is available with a couple of different grip options to suit your personal style preferences but this gun will set you back about $1,200.
It almost seems sexist to include a pink gun in a list of guns for women, but I wanted to include something that had an extra feminine touch. This little gun certainly fits the bill. It is a .38 special that has a two inch barrel and weighs in at a mere 12 ounces. If pink isn’t your color, you might be interested in the Lavender Lady. In either color, these guns go for about $400.
Stuff To Know
While most wild ducks enjoy a good reputation, geese are undeservedly maligned as greasy, livery and tough. Yes, they can be all these things, but properly done, a wild goose (or a domestic, for that matter) is essentially a large duck. A normal wild goose, such as a Canada, Snow or Whitefront will feed four – while a small goose (Cackler, Aleutian or Ross’) will serve two heartily. A domestic goose or a Giant Canada (really any Canada larger than 10 pounds) can serve as many as six.
Don’t overcook waterfowl breasts or they will be livery. Rare-to-medium is the mantra. As for the legs, thighs and wings, slow cook them to make them tender. Duck and goose legs are not nearly as tough as pheasant legs because waterfowl don’t do as much walking around. But their wings can be very tough.
If you find yourself with diving ducks, such as; scaup; ringnecks; red-heads; buffleheads; goldeneyes; ruddy ducks; oldsquaw; or eiders; (or brant, for that matter); you may need to brine them to soften any possible fishy taste. One easy way to tell is to cut off the “Pope’s Nose,” or tail of the duck, and render out the fat in a small frying pan. If the fat smells icky, brine the duck with salt, sugar and garlic, plus any aromatic herbs that strike your fancy.
**A note on all recipes: If you use domestic geese or ducks, it is vital that you remove all of the body cavity fat and then prick the skin all around with the point of a filet knife or something else narrow and pointy, after you thaw them out. Domestic geese are flying pigs, raised for their delicious fat as much as their meat.
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I get a lot of requests for simple wild game cookery tasks, so I thought I would run through a few of them as my whims and household activities warrant. Lately I’ve been searing off a lot of duck breasts. So I thought I’d kick off this set of posts with step-by-step instructions on how to sear a duck or goose breast properly.
I know, many of you are thinking, “I know how to do this already, Hank.” To you I apologize; what’s more, my method is idiosyncratic and is likely to be different from yours — but it works. For the rest of you, here it goes…
Be sure to have breasts with skin on them. Skinless breasts are not good candidates for searing, as they are boring. Use them for something else.
STEP ONE: Take the meat from the fridge and let it come towards room temperature. If you are using a domestic duck or a very fat wild duck, score the skin (but not the meat) in a cross-hatch pattern, making the cross-hatches about an inch across; this helps the fat render and will give you a crispier skin. Salt it well on both sides, then let it stand for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour.
STEP TWO: Right before you plan on cooking the duck breasts, use the back of a chef’s knife (or other knife) to scrape the skin side of the duck — this removes a lot of excess moisture. Pat the breasts dry.
STEP THREE: If you are cooking a domestic duck or a very fat wild duck, lay the breasts skin side down in a large pan (not non-stick) over medium heat. If you are working with normal wild duck breasts, heat the pan over high heat for 1 minute, then add a tablespoon of duck fat, butter or some other oil. Let this get hot for another minute. Do not let the fat smoke. Only then do you lay the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down. ou will notice the “tails” of skin and fat from the head and the tail side of the fillet contract immediately. What? You cut off those parts? Shame. Don’t do it again…
STEP FOUR: Let the pan do its job. Cook at a jocular sizzle — not an inferno, not a gurgle — for… it depends. I like my duck medium-to-medium-rare. To do this with small ducks like teal or buffleheads, you need only about 2 minutes on the skin side, and you might want to keep the heat higher. Medium-sized ducks like wigeon, gadwall or spoonies need 3-5 minutes. Mallards, pintail, canvasbacks and domestic ducks need between 5-8 minutes. If you are cooking a goose breast, you will want the heat on medium-low and you’ll need to cook the skin side a solid 8-10 minutes. The key is to let the breast do most of its cooking on this side — it’s the flattest, and will give you that fabulously crispy skin we all know and love.
STEP FIVE: Turn the breasts over. When? Follow the guidelines above, but also use your ears: You will hear the sizzle change; it will die down, just a bit. That’s when you turn. Now — this is important — lightly salt the now-exposed skin immediately. Doing this seems to absorb any extra oil and definitely gives you an even yummier, crispier skin. Let the ducks cook on the meat side for less time. I recommend:
- 1-2 minutes for small ducks
- 3-5 for medium or large ducks (and domestic duck)
- 4-6 for geese
STEP SIX: “Kiss” the thick side of the fillet by standing two breast halves next to each other. You will notice that duck and goose breasts plump up and contract as they cook. One side of the fillet will be wider than the other, and this side will need some heat.
You can see the wider side in the picture (above, left). Just tip the breasts on their sides and cook for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, just to get some good color.
STEP SEVEN: Take the duck off the heat and let it rest on a cutting board, skin side up. Tent loosely with foil. Teal need only need a minute or two rest, while big Canada geese might need 10 minutes. Everything else benefits from about a 5 minute rest. A duck breast is just like a steak: If you don’t rest it, the juices will run all over your cutting board — and not down your chin, where they should be.
You can slice the breast from either end, either side up. You can get thinner slices by starting at the meat end, but you lose a little of the crispiness of the skin. If you are serving a whole breast, always serve it skin side up, with its sauce underneath.
That’s it. This may sound like a long process, but it all comes together in a few minutes, once you start cooking. What’s funny is that it took me quite a lot of thinking to write this piece: Much of what I do is instinctive, from cooking hundreds of duck breasts. Breaking it down was harder than I’d thought. But I hope this helps the next time you feel like cooking duck breasts — wild or domestic. And if I am unclear or you have other questions, ask away!
By Megan Bello
It was heavier than I expected — a dead weight in my small and shaking hands. Holding a gun for the first time, a mixture of excitement and terror washed over me.
As I entered the range that day, donning my goggles and ear protection, everything felt surreal. Other people shot (and owned) guns, but not me, not my family. Thanks in most part to the nightly news, in my mind, guns were primarily responsible for killing people.
Yet in what seems an unlikely attraction, women are now blazing trails within the gun world. Female shooters are becoming one of the fastest-growing minorities. Author of Armed & Female: Taking Control, the petite, blond, formerly antigun and now self-defense expert Paxton Quigley says that out of an estimated 200 million guns in the U.S., about 17 million belong to women. She noted a 2009 study that found 70 percent of gun shop owners reported a rise in female gun buyers last year. A recent article from The Washington Times also reported on this phenomenon quoting the same study, which was conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Southwick Associates. The study went on to find that 80 percent of the women purchasing firearms said they bought guns for self-defense, followed by 35 percent for target practice and 24 percent for hunting.
Shooting is considered a functional skill used for sportsmanship, protection and provision. More and more, women are magnetically drawn to these endeavors as they hit the firing ranges, join shooting clubs, take tactical courses in self-defense, organize female hunts and even host bachelorette parties at the range — followed by the requisite mani/pedi, of course. Whatever the reason, women are stepping onto the gun scene.
To understand why, I contacted Natalie Foster, creator ofGirlsGuideToGuns.com, a website chock full of wit and thought-provoking content for both the wary, and not-so-wary, gun-toting female. Natalie considers herself a citified-country girl. She’s been living in LA for the past nine years, but her dad (now a renowned surgeon) had served as an Artillery Officer in the Army in the ‘70s, so she grew up around guns. Oddly enough, she’d never shot one until two years ago. Her impetus to learn came from the desire to bond with her dad and brothers. (Turns out we’re both daddy’s girls — though my dad-daughter bonding time entails having a catch in the backyard or watching Philly sports … and, of course, sharing big Italian meals.)
GirlsGuideToGuns.com manifested as a vehicle to fill the “gaping hole” in websites geared towards women and guns. “We’re underrepresented when it comes to anything that has to do with firearms,” she says. “There was nothing out there for someone like me. It’s not just for the home-on-the-range girl. I wanted to create a site tailored to the city girl.”
A city girl, in fact, just like me. Natalie suggested I get a taste for shooting. As an antigun, Irish-Italian Catholic, barely 4’11,” former cheerleading captain, straight-A student, shopaholic from Philly, I’m not exactly the gunslinging type.
Or so I thought.
Next thing I knew, she was teaching me about semiautomatics and the difference between a pistol and a revolver at the LAX firing range in Los Angeles, a place I had never even known existed.
Safety was our first order of business: Natalie diligently instructed me on every safety precaution, the nuances of each weapon, sight alignment, sight picture, proper grip, trigger control and how you never — never — place your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire. She coached me through every step and reminded me to take deep breaths to ease anxiety.
At first I was scared. I was holding a device designed to kill people, and which often does. What if that guy down at row number two decides he’s having a bad day and opens fire in my direction?
Instead of letting fear creep in, I trusted in the statistics: The likelihood of someone opening fire at a shooting range is even less than that of a shark attack or plane crash. (Having just overcome my fear of sharks five years ago while learning to surf, I felt pretty secure with this stat.) The range is as safe as the people who use it. Most people at the range are trained and registered gun owners who take shooting, as a sport and as a skill, quite seriously. Shooting ranges keep sign-in records, it costs money to participate, and everyone has been schooled on safety. Although accidents in ranges have been reported nationwide, these are rare instances, and it proved a safer environment than I’d expected. If anything, I was the new kid on the block, so the vets were probably worried about me and my green gun-fingers.
The moment I stepped into that little room, I couldn’t deny the morbid curiosity pulsing through my veins. Inside the range there were several small ledges with open windows where each shooter sets up, aims and shoots at his or her respective target. I’d only ever seen this on cop shows. Nothing could have prepared me for the exhilarating feeling I had once I pulled that trigger. I shot four guns that day: a Sig Sauer 9mm, a Colt .38 revolver, a Ruger .45 and a Glock .45 (and whoa, were those .45s big!). There we were, just two city girls, practicing our marksmanship at the firing range. Not my typical Tuesday afternoon.
It was eerily intoxicating holding a gun, properly placing my fingers around it, aligning my body stance, strategically setting my sight alignment and (drum roll) pulling the trigger. I got a little freaked out by the .45s — I even caught myself closing my eyes as I began to pull back the trigger. But I promptly snapped out of it, opened my eyes, reassessed my control and stance and shot responsibly — eyes wide open. I thoroughly enjoyed the control I felt over the 9mm and .38 revolver. My first shot, with the 9mm, felt like slow motion as I methodically pulled back the trigger, the blast of the bullet exploding from my gun, the flash of gunfire, the jolt from the recoil and the shell flipping up and circling over my head. I hit the bulls-eye. My initial fear quickly and unexpectedly transformed into a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. I never knew I could do that.
Turns out this surge of confidence is just one of the positive effects of shooting. A core strengthening happens when you become dominant over a machine. A psychosomatic reaction occurred in me that day: I sincerely feel that I command more of a presence now.
Shooting also relieves stress. The range is not a place to take out your aggressions; rather, a place to focus, become intensely present and blow that tension away. Natalie likens it to a more aggressive form of yoga, and as an avid yoga practitioner myself, I must concur. There’s no room for distracting thoughts or concerns of the day to wreak havoc on your mind. You must stay focused on the task at hand.
It even has mental healing qualities. Natalie shared stories about how cancer patients who shoot at targets with the word “CANCER” on them have found it aids in lifting their spirits and getting them on the road to remission. Addicts shoot their “addictions.” Through this visualization, purportedly patients have found success in overcoming diseases. Struggling with something you want to overcome? A trip to the shooting range may be just what the doctor ordered.
While I don’t altogether condone owning a firearm, nor am I discounting the life-changing pain many have endured from losing loved ones who have been caught in the line of fire, my day at the range taught me not only why women are turning to shooting, but I also learned something about myself.
Though women and guns may seem like they fall at opposing ends of the feminine spectrum, they’re much closer than you might think. While I had anticipated a competitive environment at the range — you know, a bunch of guys whipping it out and measuring, if you will — that wasn’t the case at all. It’s a space where safety and respect, for the weapons and the people around you, are paramount. It’s a far cry from the aggressive blood sport of Mortal Kombat. Another interesting fact I learned that day: Women are statistically naturally better shots than men. No wonder I was good!
While there was a palpable element of fear in me about guns, the feeling is now mixed with courage and a growing excitement. My marked target proudly hangs on my bulletin board back at the office. Self-esteem booster? I’ll take that.
If you had asked me prior to my day at the range if my opinions on guns would change, I’d have said no way. Now I’m grateful I know how to use one. I’ve joined the ranks of a club I once thought was exclusive to Bond girls and ladies of the Wild West, one made up of formidable, all-American women, unafraid to hold a powerful machine in our hands.
Find your local firing range through The National Shooting Sports Foundation.
It’s all in the details, for the Stainless Steel Double Cable Bangle, those details are 18k gold plated. It’s the luxe little extra that adds bang to this bangle.
From camisole cross-body holsters to easy-access zip dresses: The rise of women’s fashion designed to conceal guns
Fashion designers are cashing in on new state laws allowing concealed weapons by creating clothes and accessories for the purpose of hiding guns.
Sarah Church, founder of her own eponymous clothing line, is just one designer whose creations have been featured at the Firearms and Fashion Show, an event held in Chicago that showcases how to incorporate items of self defense into your wardrobe.
One of her designs is a $165 front-zip hoodie dress that comes in black and green. ‘This is a dress you could wear anywhere, anytime,’ she told the Chicago Tribune. ‘And when you’re carrying a gun underneath, no one will know it.’
Firearm fashion: More and more designers are creating clothes for the purpose of hiding guns – like easy-access zip dresses (top) and camisole garters with detachable holsters (bottom)
They explained that the show has the purpose of helping women realize they can be fashionable at the same time as carrying arms.
‘This is about getting women to think about self-protection,’ said Ms Bartuch. ‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too.’
Ms Smolenski’s website is catered to the same demographic; on it, women can purchase an under-bust camisole with detachable garters and cross-body holsters.
The weapon-concealing accessories , which cost $77.95, come in ‘Vanilla Ice’ and ‘Pirate Black’ and are meant to be worn under normal clothes – like one of Sarah Church’s hoodie dresses.
The market for these fashionable firearm concealers is surprisingly large; according to a Gallup poll, women made up 23per cent of gun owners nationwide in 2011, up from just 13per cent in 2005.
Keep it hidden: At the Firearms and Fashion Show, an event held in Chicago, designers showcase how to incorporate items of self defense into your wardrobe
Concealing on the catwalk: A model shows off a design at the Firearms and Fashion Show on Saturday.
Playing it safe: Marilyn Smolenski (left), who runs online shop Nickel and Lace, and former police officer Karen Bartuch (right) hosted. ‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too,’ said Ms Bartuch
In Illinois, which struck down a concealed weapons ban in July, state police have approved more than 8,300 concealed carry licenses for women, which accounts for about 20per cent of the total.
The Well Armed Woman is another website that specializes in gun-concealing clothes and accessories. Here, visitors can browse resources on gun ownership as well as shop for tank tops, shorts and carry bags made for holding guns.
‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too’
Owner Carrie Lightfoot writes that she discovered the need for such a website when she began thinking of buying a gun herself several years ago.
‘I began to realize that there was a great divide between women’s interest in guns and the male dominated “camo and ammo” firearm industry,’ she explained.
Female-friendly shooting clothing and resources may have been few and far-between when she launched the site in 2012, but now, it’s a different story.
Under wraps: The Well Armed Woman is another website that specializes in gun concealment clothes and accessories, like these concealment compression undershorts
Changes on the horizon: ‘About five years ago, the industry started realizing there were women out there wanting to shoot,’ said owner Carrie Lightfoot
These days, in fact, her women’s meet-up group – which teaches participants how to ‘learn and grow as shooters’ – has 188 chapters across the country.
She explained that with the rise in female gun ownership, the entire industry is being turned on its head.
‘The industry has been so male-driven,’ she said. ‘On some levels, there was a condescending attitude toward women at first. There was a flood of pink holsters and pink guns.
‘About five years ago, the industry started realizing there were women out there wanting to shoot.’
Field & Stream sits down with the co-host of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures, women’s advocate and rising star Eva Shockey, to discuss hunting’s future.
F&S: So, Eva, what’s next?
E.S.: I’d say women are. Compared to just last year, the number of women I meet—young girls, teenagers, moms with babies, older women—who tell me they hunt or are taking up hunting is incredible. Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris recently told me that the sale of women’s products was just 3 percent of his business 10 years ago, and now it’s 30 percent. Women are coming on full force.*
F&S: Why do you think that is?
E.S.: We have so many more platforms now. Outdoor Channel. A&E. Shows that depict hunting have become mainstream, so people are more accepting of it. When those shows feature women in the outdoors, other women feel more welcome and accepted.
F&S: Do you see yourself as a role model to these new hunters?
E.S.: I think of myself more as just being relatable. I’m the same as a lot of these girls I talk to. My dad was smart enough to pick up a camera and take it hunting 15 years ago, so, yes, we now have a camera in front of us all the time, but otherwise we’re just like any family that hunts together.
E.S.: It’s an honor. I’m not doing anything scandalous—I keep all my clothes on—and I try to make decisions that, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to make. If people think that’s attractive, especially in full camo, I think that’s great. I take it as a compliment.
F&S: Will more women hunters get their own TV shows, rather than being some dude’s sidekick?
E.S.: Definitely. That’s happening now and it’s only going to get bigger. Remember, a lot of those “sidekicks” are very capable in their own right and could have very successful shows of their own.
Increase in hunting participation from 2008 to 2012, according to the NSSF: male, 1.9 percent; female, 10 percent (from 3.04 million to 3.35 million)