When asked what A Girl & A Gun is and who can attend our events, our reply is “all are welcome.” We welcome all women to participate in our recurring events. We welcome junior shooters to attend with their mothers. We welcome the men in our lives to support and understand this female-bonding time we share, which usually translates into more family time together on the range. It’s a Win-Win for everyone!
We are not “man haters” or separatists trying to isolate ourselves in the shooting community. AG & AG events are safe places for women to ask questions without looking stupid in front of a male counterpart or feeling the pressure to not let down her husband or father if she makes mistakes while learning. We know and love many wonderful male instructors, but a lot of our newbies benefit from women mentoring other women. We bring the ladies in, raise them up, ignite their self-confidence, and then push them out of the nest to join our shooting community. We choose to do this in a “dude-free” environment. Just like men enjoy a poker night with the guys, this is no different than women going to bunko or book clubs.
I was inspired to write this blog in response to comments made on a Facebook post about purchasing a specific gun for my teenage son. Innocent comments made mostly in jest about choosing one gun over another struck a nerve with me because I could feel the undertones of people perpetrating what I call “Gun Shaming.” It is fine if you are a fan of a specific manufacturer, and have a gun that you are loyal to and would rather cut off your trigger finger than ever be forced to shoot a different gun, but that gun doesn’t work for everyone.
My son had been working with a specific gun for a few years, and he hit a road block in his training. We worked on the gun, we worked with him to the point of frustration, and his self-esteem was being adversely affected. One day I pulled a different gun out of “my box of training guns” and the improvement was drastic and immediate. The relief on his face was noticeable. This goes to show that we can love all kinds of guns, desire to be one with the gun, vow to be loyal… but sometimes the gun is going to choose you and not the other way around.
Gun shaming extends beyond brand loyalty as it has crossed over to colors of the gun and accessories. You are entitled to your opinion, but if it isn’t yours and you don’t have to shoot it, keep your gun-shaming comments to yourself.
Take a look around and you’ll see that people are shamed for EVERYTHING. When I see it happening in the firearms community, I am compelled to tell people that we need to be better than that. I’m not asking anyone to change their opinions or their loyalties because what you like is what you like. But don’t shame someone else for being different. The important thing is that they are safe. If someone is using a gun that is poor quality or unsafe, help them make better choices without shaming them. Being mean and condescending is not the way to share information and educate people.
So when AG & AG says all are welcome, we mean it: All women, all guns. It is great if we can help someone find a better solution for their needs by recommending our favorite brand or style, but we should never make someone feel bad because of what they like. A gun that they enjoy shooting is better than any gun that is ignored at home in the safe.