The fashion magazine Marie Claire appears to be taking on the issue of women and guns. I personally found their coverage to be far from in-depth and it just skims the surface. What it does is present 10 different stories of those affected by firearms. The micro site opens up with “The Stats” and according to Marie Claire and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center survey, “Most Americans favor stricter gun control, but women want it more.”
From politics, victims, gangs and the lobby to addressing access, need, danger, and the decision, each piece is meant to stand alone, and is shared on Marie Claire’s Facebook page as such. Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina face off with Clinton’s emotional plea vs. Fiorina’s call for facts and true leadership. There are heart wrenching accounts from the families of victims, rape survivors and female gang members. I was pleased to see the acknowledgement of “The Sport.” The story here offers no commentary or opinion except that of All-American gun girl Katelyn Francis in her sport of 3-Gun.
In their coverage of “The Lobby,” that’s when the bias really begins to show. Words on the screen attempt to paint a picture of a detached and misleading NRA.
“In a slick, well-produced roundtable discussion hosted by Susan LaPierre, NRA Women’s Leadership Forum co-chair and wife of NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, members sit together on plush leather couches and declare women the new face of the NRA.”
I was disappointed that, to illustrate the NRA’s efforts to connect with women, the piece hyperlinks to a biased, anti-gun article from slate.com. Everytown for Gun Safety received special thanks for their help with research and sources. Not surprisingly, the exposé style of “reporting” was not used for the Bloomberg funded anti-gun organizations that have exploited gun violence by inflating statistics. Marie Claire and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center instead dispute NRA so-called claims that are sniped with parenthesis of doubt over a supposed growing “cohort” of female gun ownership.
Meanwhile, according to the Pew Research Center, support for firearm ownership has increased. In 1993 just 23% of women supported gun rights over more gun control. In 2015 that number has grown with 42% of women supporting gun rights. 49% of women surveyed said gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger safety.
Getting personal, 76% of women would be happy or indifferent vs. unhappy when asked how they would react if a member of their immediate family told them they were going to marry a gun owner. According to Gallup, 41% of homes in America have a gun and 58% of Americans think favorably or mostly favorably of the NRA.
The last story focuses on the choice of whether or not to own or use a gun. It’s where the author claims that, “Politicians love to talk about how if more people owned or carried guns, we’d see fewer casualties in mass shootings.” Perhaps so many politicians love to talk about it because research shows that 50% of women think that if more Americans carried concealed, the United States would be more safe. 31% of Americans feel that stricter gun laws would have no affect at all on the number of mass shootings vs. the 19% that think more gun laws would affect that number.
The fact remains that gun sales are at an all-time high. Despite National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reporting that participation by women increased in both target shooting (46.5%) and hunting (36.6%) in the last decade and that 61% of firearm retailers that responded to an NSSF survey said they saw an increase in female customers in their stores, Marie Claire and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center would have us believe otherwise. Am I supposed to think that 185,345 background checks on new firearm sales on Black Friday alone and the 3.3 million record in December must be all, or at least mostly, men based on their findings?
A quick internet search shows that Florida offers just one example and according to a 2014 report on Jacksonville.com, more women are carrying concealed weapons in Florida.
“A total of 1,236,901 people held valid state concealed weapon/firearm licenses as of Feb. 28, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which has handled licensing since 2003. Women compose 23 percent or 276,386 of those license holders. In comparison, women composed 15 percent or 48,316 of the 324,236 Florida license holders in 2004, the data shows.”
“The Decision,” like most of the other stories, is a personal account. “Despite the ways in which I am forced to think about safety, despite statistics, despite the gun owners I have known and respected, despite politicians’ hypotheticals, I recognize that to own a gun, to keep a gun in my home, to carry a gun on my person means I am taking on the responsibility of using that gun. I am taking on the responsibility of being willing to take another human life.”
It’s not a responsibility to take another human life, it’s a responsibility to protect your own. I believe learning firearm safety is something everyone should do. Becoming proficient and confident with a tool that could save your life and those you care about isn’t something everyone is willing to do. Personal accountability, self reliance, discipline, perseverance, confidence and enjoyment are also side effects of safe, responsible gun ownership. Owning a gun and all the real responsibilities that come with it may not be for the author, but it’s one I choose to bear and do so seriously and proudly.
I too was interviewed for this Marie Claire snapshot on the topic as an NRA member and host of NRA Women’s Love at First Shot. I am not surprised my answers didn’t make the cut as a mom, longtime NRA member, or the most glaring and disappointing omission in the so-called conversation, one dedicated to true firearm safety. Here are the answers I provided in an email:
1. When did you join the NRA? Can you give me a bit of background as to what prompted the decision?
Guns are very much a part of my family and I became a member of the NRA at a young age. My grandfather purchased life memberships for all us grandkids. As a WWII veteran and trained gunsmith, it was very important to him and it’s a part of our family heritage.
I didn’t really appreciate my membership until my personal journey with firearms began and I started competing in the shooting sports as a teenager. As an adult, I have upgraded my membership a number of times and am now a benefactor.
2. The NRA has definitely upped it’s messaging to women of late — what has this change meant for you?
I don’t view it so much as upping the messaging, but more that the NRA has connected the dots. When I was a kid, it seemed very much a male dominated organization with people like my dad and grandpa. As a budding competition shooter, I was one of just a handful of women at our gun club and certainly the only young girl. Just as women have been making their mark and trying out traditionally male activities over the past few decades, there are more and more women gun owners.
For me personally, the success the NRA has in building this network of women is rewarding. I’ve discovered new friends from all over the country. I think it’s only natural for women to want to share how they feel and focus on what’s important to them. From women’s only events, to training seminars, firearm safety education, hunting and communication through NRA Women, the women within the NRA are connecting in so many ways.
3. I see that you’re featured on NRAWomen.tv. How did you get involved with this?
I’ve been featured on the network as the Captain of Smith & Wesson’s shooting team and a champion competition shooter. Because of my experience as an instructor, I am also a trainer and host for the web-based show Love at First Shot. So many women are curious about guns and I love being able to help answer their questions. My role with Love at First SHOT is to demystify guns and help prepare women for a safe, positive firearm experience so that they can decide whether shooting is for them, or not. Regardless of whether or not a woman owns a gun, I think it’s important to be educated about guns and firearm safety.
4. What do you think of the NRA’s efforts to reach women? Are they adequately speaking to you? If not, what could they be doing better?
I think the NRA has a significant challenge when it comes to reaching women. You have extremely vocal politicians and celebrities making statements often based on ignorance, sensationalism, or even anti-feminist concepts and skewed statistics. The mainstream media doors are generally closed. The success of the NRA has always been at the grassroots level and it’s a personal connection. The internet and social media have helped expand reach in a huge way and, I think this is the key for communicating to gun owners and those who support the Second Amendment in the future.
5. Is there anything I haven’t asked about regarding your experience as a woman in the NRA that you’d like to share?
The why question. Why am I member of the NRA? Aside from the obvious, my belief in the importance of the Second Amendment, there are all the things the NRA does beyond its work in Washington. Firearm safety programs, training and shooting sports are things that are rarely discussed by those outside the membership. As a young girl I dreamed of becoming a champion shooter, and thanks to organizations like the NRA, not only have I achieved that goal, I have also been able to share my passion for firearm safety and the fun of the shooting sports.
In closing, the answers to the Marie Claire questions were my own. I spent my own time researching the stats and reports for this post. The NRA does indeed represent millions of gun owners in Washington, but the membership is a real grass roots representation of those dedicated to the Second Amendment. This wife, mother and daughter, among so many other women, is one of them.