The scourge of “fill-in-the-blank” violence is always discussed. Headlines talk about such things constantly. “Scourge of gun violence” being one of the big ones we’re always bombarded with by the talking heads. Forms of violence that perhaps do not get the attention or meaningful remedies needed for victims that they should, are domestic violence and those subjected to sexual assaults. The pages of this website and other 2A news outlets are full of stories about failed restraining orders and issues with stalking. The harrowing story of Carol Bowne comes to mind; where a NJ woman was murdered by her former domestic partner while waiting on her firearm purchasers permit to be issued. Or the brutal rape that Amanda Collins Johnson suffered while she was disarmed on her college campus, chronicled in her forthcoming book Beyond Survival. How about the stalking that Nikki Goeser has been subject to from an incarcerated man that murdered her husband?
Stories like those and the general increase in violence against woman caused San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO) CEO, Wendy Hauffen, to create the #NotMeSD Movement in 2019. What is the #NotMe SD Movement? From their webpage we can glen the following information:
The #NotMeSD Movement is SDCGO’s initiative to stop sexual assault and end domestic violence. The sad reality is that the prevalence of these crimes is increasing. As part of our effort to end this crisis, SDCGO is providing assistance for any woman who owns or would like to own a firearm, seeks training, and/or would like to apply for a CCW (Conceal Carry Weapons Permit).
On their website, the group has outlined their philosophy and some startling facts concerning domestic violence and crime against women:
SDCGO believes the epidemic of sexual assault and domestic violence must be ended. There are many other local resource programs available, and we believe adding firearms protection to women’s options is critically important. We invite people from other areas of expertise to be part of our #NotMeSD movement and together we will create empowering initiatives for women to not be victims.
According to a crime report published by the San Diego Associations of Governments:
In 2018 in San Diego, there were at least 14,472 reports of murder, rape, aggravated assaults, violent crimes, burglaries, and robberies.
There were 8,247 reports of domestic violence in the first half of 2019.
In San Diego, on average, 3 women are raped each day.
The fact of the matter is, women, like everyone else, are left to their own devices when it comes to self-defense. When dealing with the fairer sex, statistically they are at a disadvantage when looking at the numbers. Seeing initiatives like the #NotMeSD Movement get implemented is promising. Looking through the available literature, you can learn that #NotMeSD leans on already established programs and relationships with firearm trainers through the SDCGO group. In a conversation with Michael Schwartz, the Executive Director of SDCGO, he mentioned they have already serviced over 300 women and that the program is “for women by women.” He had this to say about #NotMeSD:
Basically, if you are a woman and reach out to us, we will pair you with a trained volunteer woman who will help you purchase a gun, get training, and get a CCW. This is not information on a pamphlet. This is hands on help for women intended to stop domestic violence and sexual assault.
Hauffen, who I had the chance to catch up with, mentioned to me about how amplified the need for the organization became last year. Like most cities in the United States, 2020 brought some new challenges to those living in San Diego. She noted:
We had some pretty major riots here in May [of ] 2020. The police station and city hall were broken into, several buildings were burned down, etc. So we had a lot of interest in gun ownership at that time.
The reports of riots and unrest are not endemic to just San Diego, however, how SDCGOs decided to deal with increased violence is. #NotMeSD Movement takes a head on approach to dealing with how women can regain power and put it back into their own hands. The group employs a three pronged approach to aiding women in need; through training them, assisting them with becoming firearm owners themselves, and in aiding those that wish to get a CCW with that process. Repeated several times in the notes on each topic is that there may be grants available for those that are financially disadvantaged. The cornerstone of #NotMeSD is on empowering women:
SDCGO’s area of expertise is to provide education, firearms training, and personal assistance in obtaining a California CCW (Permit to carry a firearm) if desired. Our focus is currently on women because women are more commonly the victims, and we are committed to providing resources for education and training to all who are affected by abuse and concerned with her own personal safety.
I asked Hauffen about the program and this is what she had to say:
We wanted to use our area of expertise – gun ownership – to create a safe and comfortable environment where women can explore their journey towards firearm ownership. I hear way too often that women are too scared or intimidated to take a training class or visit a gun shop, and I never want someone to feel like they can’t ask a question. So we created this program, which is not just some information on a website or a pamphlet; this is a one-on-one mentorship program. Now, this community has become a place where women can support and uplift each other, and have a friend by their side.
#NotMeSD is another great resource for women being implemented. Other groups such as the DC Project, A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League, and The Well Armed Woman, all advocate for womens’ rights to self-defend, and seeing more groups manifest is a real game changer when it comes to empowering women. If you’re a woman in the San Diego area that is interested, be sure to check out #NotMeSD on the web at https://sandiegocountygunowners.com/NotMeSD/ . Also be sure to visit the site for their parent organization, San Diego County Gun Owners at https://sandiegocountygunowners.com/ as well as their affiliate Gun Owners Radio.