Since I had written in an earlier post that a mature woman needs to think about the reasons why she feels a need to own or carry a gun, I thought it only right to share why I have chosen to carry. I am sure there are as many reasons for a mature woman to own or not to own, and to carry or not to carry, as there are individual women!
As I shared in my introductory post, I live and work with a husband who is in the gun leather business and is a pistol instructor. Because of that, the reasons for my decision to own and carry a gun might be expected to be very different than those of most women.
But at the core of my decision to carry and learn about and be prepared to use a gun, I believe my reasons are actually very similar to a lot of other women, particularly those living in a rural area. I didn’t come to the decision lightly, and it didn’t happen overnight. It was a process.
Here’s a brief list of things that contributed to my decision, more or less in the order of importance to me:
- My husband feels better if I am able to protect myself when he is not with me.
- There are times when I am the only one home, and while I have a couple of large dogs that provide me with a level of protection, the dogs may need me to protect them if they are outside the house.
- Living in a forest “urban interface” area means there are wild animals, including wolves, bear, moose, mountain lions, and dogs (abandoned or dumped as well as those allowed to run loose) and more. Should I be walking about the property, hiking in the woods, or have to leave my vehicle and walk (which has happened in the dark of winter) I am very much in THEIR territory.
- In my daily driving, the roads I use are through a mountainous area with spotty cell service and there is infrequent and low traffic volume. Should I need assistance, I don’t know “who” will stop to help, and can’t count on any help being available.
- Along those same lines, if I encounter someone who is stranded, or walking and flagging me down, I have not felt safe stopping to give them assistance, nor can I quickly call to get help for them.
- There are no neighbors within “earshot” or within visibility of our house.
- My “day job” is in a small town, and there are volatile people ANYWHERE you live.
- I do sometimes travel (alone) distances from 100 to 400 miles from home each way into more populated cities and towns.
- I have an “unstable” ex living in the same town, who owns guns.
- These are “scary” times we live in.
I originally came from the west coast – living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and then “Silicone Valley” which was a sprawling urban area, and left there in the late 1970’s. It was a different world back then, but I was robbed at gun point TWICE when I was going to school and working nights part time at a service station, and know what it feels like to be helpless without any situational control, and was fortunate to survive unharmed.
My ex and I moved to a 135 acre ranch in northeastern California to “escape” the crowding and to raise kids. That area became filled with “correctional” facilities over the years we lived there and the change was pretty dramatic. We left that for this small town located in the middle of thousands of acres of national forestland in the late 1990’s.
When we divorced, I lived in town and my neighbor happened to be the chief of police. I felt pretty safe and didn’t feel the need to own or carry a gun. A hunting rifle served just fine.
A few years later I remarried and moved out into the “forest” with my wonderful hubby, Gary. I have been around my husband’s guns constantly, hunting, fishing, and now his gun leather business. I didn’t feel a need to carry or learn much about guns until one day we were out fly fishing and I was standing in the middle of the river in my waders. My husband, who always carries a 10mm when we’re out in the woods and the wilds, was absorbed in finding the next best place to cast, and with his long legs had soon disappeared down stream around the bend. I found myself alone. It dawned on me that day that if he, the quintessential “mountain man” felt it prudent to carry a gun, maybe I should start to also? I experienced the same feeling that fall while out huckleberry picking. Within a short period of time, I got my own gun, and that’s another story!
I started strapping my gun belt on for our fishing, hunting, hiking and berry picking excursions. Two years ago we had an extremely icy winter. By now I had been driving in snow and ice for over 25 years without incident, but that year I ran off the road on two separate occasions during dangerous ice conditions. It was dark and right around the freezing point. In the first incident, it took me almost an hour to walk the 3/4 mile back uphill to our home along the secondary road and our long steep drive. I was followed in the dark by a now-evicted-neighbor’s “pack” of dogs who were growling and snarling at me until I was well passed her place. I felt defenseless and afraid, and was shaking with more than the cold when I got home.
Up until then I believe I had relied on the “umbrella” affect of my husband being there, my dogs always around and on my own good sense and the small amount of self defense training I have learned. I believed all would be well as long as I conducted myself responsibly in this friendly small forest town.
While running off the road shook me up and laid the foundation for the eventual decision of carrying a gun with me, I didn’t make any changes that winter other than deciding that I would wait until daylight in bad conditions, and my husband sanded the road before I left for work if ice conditions again presented until that winter ended.
It’s not that I have trouble making decisions or changes, I do that readily when I face problems. But this topic is different than most. I felt vulnerable and concerned when driving in the dark and foul weather now. Looking back the hesitation was probably at least partially because the fear of carrying a loaded gun seemed almost as bad as driving in the dark and ice. I didn’t want to admit that, because I know how to shoot and use a gun, and really enjoy target shooting. But to carry one that is loaded in my daily activities and an uncontrolled environment was a leap.
So what changed in the fall? One factor was just getting older. The fragility of life is sinking in with each year as I am entering the golden, “sunset” of my time on earth! I have always known that I can’t count anything other this moment, for me or my husband. I know we each think and hope we have many more years together, but only God knows that.
But the primary factor last fall was the approach of another winter and feeling fearful. I made the decision to become comfortable carrying a gun with me to at least know if I was out in the severe elements I could act in self defense from critters if needed. And once I made that decision it had a freeing affect and I regained a sense of empowerment that the icy conditions had stripped from me.
I also modified my hours so I would only travel in daylight and not at all if conditions became severely icy. I had the grace of being in a semi-retirement phase, and it was practical to do so. When you choose to live outside of a town in the conditions we find ourselves in, we have to weigh the consequences. As Gary and I get older it may be impractical to stay so far out and back in the hills. We’ll look at that, prayerfully together, at that time!
We are traveling more, and I now have more time to reflect on a changing world, and find I am reading about and listening to other people more than when I had my head down and pulling hard in the traces at work.
I’m becoming acutely aware that I am entering a time of life where I am not as strong, nor as focused or able to react with agility and strength as I once was, and I am adjusting to that. I hear a lot about older women in particular being “soft targets” and have to admit that is a factor- not so much here at home, but when traveling. There are nasty, ruthless, sick people out there. Always have been, but it does seem a breakdown has occurred in our society and the numbers are increasing, or at the very least we are hearing more about when it occurs.
I don’t have a paranoid personality. I have always been self reliant and believe that I am responsible to some degree for most of what happens to me. I need to be aware of potentially unsafe situations wherever I am, and need to know how to protect myself in case I find myself in a bad situation, and how to protect others around me should the need arise.
I hope by sharing my reasons it might help you to start to examine your own. I am not in favor of owning and carrying a gun out of fear and in ignorance. Rather, a woman should intelligently face what she is afraid of, think it through and decide if owning and carrying a gun is part of the answer in her life situation.
Expect that it will be a process. The way to overcome fear of the unknown is to examine, study and learn about the things you fear, not ignore or deny or hide from them! I am very respectful of a loaded gun, but no longer fearful of them. I believe staying in a state of fear can contribute to making more mistakes and having more accidents with ANY tool we use. A handgun is a tool, and with appropriate training and experience will come confidence.
Happy and Safe shooting – Peggy