My friend ScotShot who has penned an editorial or two on this blog, sent me this from one of his instructors, Heidi Bergmann-Schoch. He had read a note in NSSF data that pointed out the number of new women gun owners since the outbreak of COVID-19. He reached out to Heidi for her opinion on it as she, in addition to being an instructor, is a coordinator of one of The Well-Armed Woman chapters in New Jersey.
Here is what she had to say. I am posting it with her permission.
I have looked through the newsletters I receive from TWAW and have not found anything that relates specifically to these topics. But I can give you my take on it.
Women have historically had a difficult time being taken seriously when researching and actually acquiring firearms. It’s been a “man’s world” and us little ladies shouldn’t be worrying our little heads about such things. But we have to….our town or development may be the next one in line to have a “peaceful” demonstration that evolves into violence as night falls. We all hear it, “call the police, it’s their job” except they are overwhelmed and will NOT be coming right over to check the group at your front door. They can’t. They’re already tied up with the dozens of calls before yours. So what do we, as responsible, independent women, do to fix the problem and be safer? We get training. We buy guns.
Except we can’t. At least not in an expeditious manner.
Though the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution says we have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves, New Jersey has us jump through more hoops then a pack of Jack Russells at a Dog and Pony show in order to do it. And that’s during “normal” times. Now it is nearly impossible to acquire a gun in a timely manner and impossible to receive training and get practice time as the indoor ranges are closed and the outdoor ranges severely restricted.
The 2nd Amendment Daily News says America added 2 million first time gun owners in 5 months. 800,000 of those were women. Sales are up 80% over May of last year. The percentages hold through New Jersey. So by limiting access to training is the Government of New Jersey setting us up for a greater fall? Just waiting for the first inappropriate discharge of a firearm from a brand new firearm owner? Makes you wonder…
And then there are the others murmurs about restricting ammunition sales. Right now you may find some calibers in somewhat short supply. Everyone who can wants to be ready to defend themselves. Currently it’s a volume problem but looking at the future and the murmurs in quiet corners, it could very well be more then that in the future with the NJ Government abolishing the ability to acquire ammo on line. It hasn’t happened yet, but we know the current regime is rabidly against personal firearms ownership and stay up at night figuring out how to further deprive us of personal protection.
So what’s a girl to do?
Numerous women’s gun organizations have come into being over the last 5 to 10 years, all with the goal of supplying women with the resources to become better shooters and better defenders of themselves and their loved ones. And while the emphasis is on firearms, particularly handguns, other means of protection are also covered. Most local chapters of these organizations meet once a month and have an educational segment as well as range time. Topics are diverse; one meeting may be on proper shooting stance and the next on situational awareness. All subjects have the goal of better preparing the women to be responsible for themselves and confident in their actions.
Since shooting is a perishable skill, groups like The Well Armed Woman strongly encourage their members that attend a meeting to follow up by going out on the range after the classroom portion is over. They even track who has completed range time and counsel those who do not practice to do so, at least with the group. For some, this is the new “bowling night”, socializing with friends who have similar likes and attitudes with the added benefit of education. Many of these women have no other outlet or social circle to discuss and enjoy this hobby/lifestyle. Guns are feared by many and there are those out there that feel women with guns are an aberration. Instead of ostracism, in these groups they find welcome and acceptance.
The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters continually support women and their quest to protect themselves. Once a year on June 6th, they hold a reminder that women who choose to can be, and are, proactive in protecting themselves. Using the hash tags #IAmEmpowered, #IAmPrepared and #IRefuseToBeAVictim these guiding principles of #NOTMe and #NeverAgain support women’s ability to keep safety in their own hands and not rely on anyone else.
Except this year in New Jersey, they could not. Covid-19 came along and government shut down our society and ranges. And now, even as commercial sports are opened up to the multitudes, ranges are still closed. The thousands of new guns owners, women and men, go home with their proud acquisition unable to even fire it for the first time.