Right now, there are millions of new gun owners. As many as 40 percent of those new gun owners are women. We can expect that at least some of those other 60 percent represents “family firearms,” or guns used by both a husband and his wife, meaning there may be many more armed women than accounted for in the official numbers.
In Colorado, it seems that many women–both new gun owners and old one’s alike–are taking to the trails in the state while armed.
Every time they go out on Colorado trails, hikers face inherent risks — including those from man and beast who share the paths. Some women are choosing to pack heat for protection.
“I carry a handgun when I am hiking alone on a trail that is more secluded, or at night, or (when) I am backpacking alone,” said Cierra LeVan, a 27-year old teacher in Mesa County. “I do this for personal protection and self-defense, from both potential animal and human predators.”
LeVan is not alone; Rather than avoid hiking because they don’t have a companion, some women are opting for more than bear spray for protection when they hit the trails. The question of whether or not one should carry a gun while hiking has long been a topic in online group chats, and there is a Facebook group just for women who hike with guns.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation does not tally gun ownership by gender, so it’s not possible to see how many women in the state are gun owners.
A couple of recent incidents on the Front Range trails have brought the issue up for many hikers:
- In July, a man’s concealed gun in his backpack discharged and shot him in the leg on a popular trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- That same month, a woman was sexually assaulted while hiking alone on the Walker Ranch Trail in Boulder on a weekday afternoon.
“Most women I know have been touched or grabbed by men when in the woods. It’s too common,” said Sara C., a 35-year-old Denver business owner who did not want her full name used for fear of being targeted. “A creepy guy sees a girl fishing or hiking alone, tries to grab her arm or her body … dogs and guns will scare people off.”
I have to agree with LeVan and Sarah, guns are good things for women who are out and about in the wild alone. No, it shouldn’t be necessary. In a perfect world, women wouldn’t have to worry about being accosted or attacked while enjoying nature. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in this one.
On Tuesday, Cam wrote about a female hunter who thwarted a kidnapping attempt. That’s another side to the story here. Women can also end up being witnesses to acts. While being a good witness is important, there’s also the possibility that waiting and watching means seeing someone be horribly murdered or worse. Being armed allows someone to act, to actually stop a traumatic event from taking place.
Regardless of the reasons, I’m glad to see more armed women taking to nature. If enough head out with weapons, it can create a form of herd immunity and protect those who don’t or can’t.
That’s a win for everyone.