Updated: Apr 6, 2021
By: Louisa Waters Cate, NRA Certified CCW and Pistol Instructor
Firearm purchases (particularly handguns and defensive shotguns) are being sold at a record pace. Many local firearm retailers can't keep guns on the shelf. A majority of the people buying guns in this boom market report that the primary reason for their purchase is for self-defense. The number of concealed carry permits have soared to over 20,000,000 nation-wide with women being the fastest growing demographic.
These statistics beg the question: Does the pistol on your hip or in your concealed carry pocketbook make you safer? As an NRA Certified CCW and Pistol Instructor, I can answer that question with a resounding MAYBE. That might seem like a strange reply coming from a concealed carry and pistol shooting instructor, but it is true. Attitude is EVERYTHING. If you believe that when you strap on that Glock 19 or your Smith and Wesson Shield, you automatically become safer, or that your loaded pistol somehow covers you with an invincible force field, then my answer is an emphatic NO, IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU SAFER! In fact, it probably makes you LESS safe. There is nothing magical about that pound and a half of steel and polymer you have in your carry hand bag. That pistol is nothing more and nothing less than a tool. If you look at it any other way, your attitude could be writing checks that your ability to defend yourself simply cannot cash.
Again, your pistol is a tool, like a hammer. In the same way that having a hammer on your tool belt does not make you a master carpenter, that pistol does not make you capable of self-defense. The proper attitude for a well-armed woman is an attitude of reluctant willingness. The attitude says: One, the only way to win a fight is to, if possible, AVOID it. Two, that deadly force is an absolute LAST RESORT. Finally, if you are forced to defend yourself with deadly force, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to stop that lethal attack, even if it means you are killed or injured. Once you have come to that conclusion, in my opinion, then and only then, are you ready to begin a successful journey to self defense competence through training and more training.
If you are a novice to shooting, or a woman with some small experience, you probably need to be trained in the proper fundamentals of pistol safety (this makes sure you don't shoot yourself or anyone who doesn’t need to get shot). Once you have learned safety fundamentals, you need to master the basics of pistol marksmanship and proper pistol handling. A woman can start down this road with an NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting class. With the fundamentals soundly in place, you can practice with your pistol and begin to see improvements. Once you have begun to build those fundamentals, you can take more advanced classes like NRA Defensive Pistol, which will build on your basis of pistol shooting foundation with real world defensive skill sets. By the time you complete this course, you will be well on your way to being confident, and more importantly, competent to defend yourself and your loved ones. Going back to the original question: Am I safer carrying a gun? Yes, if you have the right attitude and you are willing to put in the work.
Ok! LET'S GET TO WORK!!