NRA Certified Firearms Instructor Michael McDermott of Pennsylvania was one of the first individuals to respond to our call to action with the Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence Campaign. McDermott, who witnessed domestic violence first-hand in his own home growing up, is offering a FREE 2hr NRA beginners as well all other classes free of charge for anyone with an active court order PFA (only costs would be ammunition and any range fees).

When Channel 13’s Katya Fitzpatrick got wind of the BAADV campaign and McDermott’s involvement, she headed out to his classroom, not only to interview him about his firearms training program and the campaign, but she also took a concealed carry class and even shot a gun for the first time.

During a break in her concealed carry firearms course, Katya contacted me to find out more about the campaign:

KF: Tell me about this month’s Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence campaign.

JJ: The main goal of the Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence campaign is to show our support for survivors of domestic violence and bring awareness to the reality of what can happen after victims leave an abusive relationship. The media fails to highlight how much the gun industry and gun owners work to provide resources for all survivors, whether their experience prompts them to carry a gun or not. Through education and resources, we hope everyone will arm themselves with the knowledge of how to take control of their personal protection rather than putting the key to their safety in someone else’s pocket.

KF: BAADV campaign is providing a network of NRA Certified instructors who are providing discounts on training for anyone with an active restraining order for the month of October. Is this the first time BAADV is doing this?

JJ: This is the first year we’ve done anything like this, but I hope this will not only be an annual campaign, but that everyone involved will continue to support these efforts year round. The NRA Certified instructors, Well Armed Women chapters, A Girl on Fire, and many others have really stepped up to the plate for this cause – and the response has just been tremendous, I’m definitely humbled by just how big this has grown in just a few short weeks.

KF: Why did BAADV decide to provide this service?

JJ: I was working as a freelance writer for Bearing Arms last summer when I covered the story of Carol Bowne in New Jersey – Carol, who had an active restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, had applied for a firearms permit 92 days prior to June 3rd, when was stabbed to death in her driveway by her ex-boyfriend just three days before her 40th birthday.
Her story struck something in me and I’ve worked for Carol every day since.

Now, as an Editor with Bearing Arms, I wanted to honor her memory by providing the resources she so desperately needed to those who need them today.

KF: What other resources is BAADV providing for people with active PFA’s against someone?

JJ: The Refuse to be a Victim program is a self-defense training program that teaches individuals essential components of strengthening their personal protection plan without a firearm and the Well Armed Woman has chapters throughout the country that people can visit for more information or just to reach out and see what’s involved with becoming a gun owner before deciding whether or not they want to purchase a firearm. We have information for parents from Project ChildSafe and the Eddie Eagle program as well.

The overwhelming response from everyone has been one of support and everyone is eager to help in anyway they can. My advice to anyone who may be contemplating a move in this direction is just to reach out and connect with either Bearing Arms or any one of the instructors listed on the site.

KF: How much of a problem is domestic violence in the nation?

JJ: Currently, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some sort of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

What’s more, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime to the point where they felt fearful of being harmed or believed their life was in danger.

We’re not saying that everyone has to buy and carry a gun for their protection, but we want to make sure that everyone knows their options for self defense because all too often, leaving your abuser is not the end of the abuse. Some people will stop at nothing to get to their victim and a restraining order is just a piece of paper.

At a minimum, we want everyone to arm themselves with the knowledge of what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones in those “what if” situations.