As part of the Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence campaign, we’re running a 7-part series on how seven prominent women in the firearms industry, hunting world and Second Amendment advocacy groups handle gun safety in their own homes.
In part 1, we get a sneak peek into how Jana Waller, Julie Golob, Stacy Washington, Natalie Foster, Shaneen Allen, Katie Pavlich and Nikki Goeser became gun owners and what they were first taught about gun safety.
Give us the “Reader’s Digest” version of why and how you became a gun owner and what you first learned about gun safety.
WALLER: When I was in grade school I would shadow my dad in the duck blinds and pheasant fields of Wisconsin. He fostered my love of nature and often took me along on his hunts. He taught me gun safety with shotguns because of his love of bird hunting and when I was 12 years I went through a hunter safety course which was my first real introduction to handling different types of hunting guns. I wasn’t introduced to handguns until I moved out West six years ago, but I’m recently the proud owner of a 40cal and 9mm to accompany my plethora of rifles and shotguns. But the concept with all firearms is the same. Always have respect for all weapons and apply your safety training whether you’re home cleaning your gun by yourself or out shooting with a group of people at the range.
GOLOB: It might surprise you to learn I found a passion for firearms, shooting and hunting as a child growing up in New York State, a state notorious for gun control and most recently credited with useless legislation known as the “SAFE Act.” A daddy’s girl, I grew up on the range and in the field. When I was curious about firearms, my parents answered my questions. I learned about true gun safety, both cardinal firearm safety rules and range safety at a young age. The knowledge led me to become a certified range officer and a shooting sports competitor as a teenager. When other kids my age were rebelling, I learned about goal setting and hard work. Shooting opened a world of opportunity for me and I was the first woman recruited for the US Army Action Shooting Team. The hobby became a passion and ultimately a career.
WASHINGTON: My father is in law enforcement, so guns have always been around; as in, “on the dining room table” around. I shot Marksman level while on active duty in the Air Force, but really shied away from owning guns after marrying and having kids. Then I joined a book club with women who owned, carried and hunted regularly. A friend and I took the concealed carry class together and off to the range we went! We bought a few others for home defense and then Ferguson went down in flames. Around the same time our kids joined an after school gun club and took the Eddie Eagle gun safety course. Now we all shoot and enjoy it immensely.
FOSTER: Most of the women I talk to either grow up in a home where shooting guns for sport was a regular occurrence or they find their way to firearms because, as an adult, they want to learn how to defend themselves. I’m a little unusual in that I jumped in to the gun world because I wanted to connect with my dad. I had been working with children with Autism and other developmental differences for a few months and I was struck by the method we used to connect with the children and how effective it was. Essentially the philosophy was this: in order to connect with these children we were instructed to do something they love to do and build a relationship from there. I thought the same principle might be effective in my effort to try to build a relationship with my dad and my brothers. They are all in to guns and hunting so I decided I’d start there.
One day while I was visiting my family in Texas I asked my dad to take me to the shooting range with him. I told him I’d finally like to learn to shoot. He was skeptical but eventually loaded up the guns and we jumped in the car for the 30-minute ride to the range. I loved every minute of it. Not just the shooting, but everything else involved as well; the science and mechanics of the firearms, the people we socialized with at the shooting club, the long conversations with my dad, the principles of freedom and the rights it protects, feeling empowered and in control and, of course, the thrill of squeezing that trigger and accurately hitting the target.
Eventually I decided to apply and train for my CCW permit. When I started training I learned more about the methods and schools of thought on tactics and the safety rules. I eat that stuff up – the stories of the heroes and how they came up with modern firearm safety and training really adds so much depth and meaning to exercise this precious right we have. I learned to take safety much more seriously and to emphasize it while I’m walking a first time shooter through his or her basic principles.
The most impactful experience I’ve had in terms of lessons on safety with firearms was watching special operators do training demonstrations. They are precise, uniform and to say that they are strict would be a gross understatement. They understand more than most that firearm safety should be a way of life. I try to impart that to everyone I introduce to the shooting world.
ALLEN: After being robbed once at gunpoint and once at knifepoint I decided that I wanted an option to be able to protect my two children and myself. As a new gun owner, one of the main things I was concerned about was the safety of my children, so I made it a point to walk away from my purchase knowing how to properly secure my gun and keep it from unwanted hands.
PAVLICH: Like millions of other Americans, I grew up in a household dedicated to hunting, the great outdoors and firearms safety. My dad has been a hunter’s safety instructor for more than three decades and bought me my first rifle for my 10th birthday with “Katie P.” embroidered in cursive on the sling. The next season, I shot my first deer and elk in the same weekend. It was a blast! Safety was always a number one priority. We had guns in the house and I, along with my brother, was taught to respect them and my parents were honest with us about their capabilities.
As I’ve gotten older and moved to a metropolitan area, my firearms needs and priorities have shifted from hunting to self-defense.
GOESER: I first became a gun owner in my mid-twenties after one of my friends (a United States Marine Sniper) taught me all about gun safety and then took me to a firearms range. Those safety rules are:
- Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
- Treat ALL firearms as if they were loaded.
- Keep your trigger finger outside the trigger guard and off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Be certain of your target, your line of fire, and what lies beyond your target.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2, where we’ll share the ladies’ personal philosophies on gun safety and how they practice what they preach in their own homes!