You’ve got a gun? There goes the neighborhood!
When I’ve told my friends and relatives that I’m involved in recreational and personal defense shooting and that I own a firearm, I’ve had reactions that span from one extreme to the other. From questioning my femininity and sanity all the way to high fives and admiration for taking responsibility for my own personal defense, women (and some men) can be very judgmental. They tend to forget that we are adults and can make our own decisions and we really aren’t asking their permission for anything. It seems as though it’s more prevalent today than ever that commonality in thought rules society whether the outcome is truly right or wrong. On the other hand, it’s also more common than ever to see women entering the shooting world, and it’s becoming more accepted than ever before.
What do you do? I’ve always been the type to chart my own path and will continue to do so. But I also understand that my friends don’t have to think like I do, and I respect that. My friends are used to me by now, and nothing surprises them when it comes to my decisions. But you may live in a part of the country where shooting is not as prevalent as in the Midwest (Ohio, to be exact).
What Does This All Mean?
Hold on. I’m not saying you need to have anyone’s permission to continue on your shooting journey. I’m trying to convey the fact that it’s easier for some to throw condemnation at it than politely discuss it in public. Again, it’s the mob mentality and social acceptance answer. Take a look at a few questions I’ve encountered, learn from them, and come up with a few of your own responses. Preparing to discuss and answer “why” you chose to begin shooting is part of the mental preparation each person has to go through when they decide to make shooting part of their life.
For the most part, debate has been minimized to memes of Facebook, one-liners, and emojicons. Stating your point of view and politely discussing a topic are skills that need to be learned and practiced. There are enough people in society feeding the notion that “if you’re not on my side, you’re on the wrong side.” We can and should be better than that.
The way you react to their responses is important and can steer the conversation in either the intended direction or send it over the cliff. Knee-jerk reactions to comments that might initially sting are never a good choice. Wanting to tell someone to go fly a kite sure might feel good at the time but won’t after the dust settles, especially if it’s a friend. Agreeing to disagree is a very good option, and should not be discounted due to its simplicity.
But if you choose to open up a discussion, pondering these questions is a great starting place to find the answers or rebuttals you need: What got you to start shooting? What was your first experience like? Why did you decide to continue? How does it make you feel now that you own your personal defense? It’s also important to look for the intent behind your friends’ questions. Are they really asking what the words are saying or is there another meaning behind their words? Perhaps your friends have personal experiences that are coming through in the form of their questions. Being able to read the meaning behind the questions will assist in framing your answers. Be perceptive.
It’s important to point out to your friends that you empathize with them (if you really do). “I used to feel that way too, until I tried …” is a great way to help your friends understand that you get where they’re coming from, and perhaps defuse a situation before it escalates.
I’ve had all of the comments (and more) listed above thrown in my direction. The goal is to not overreact. Explaining that a perfectly sane, perfectly normal woman can decide to safely and lawfully shoot recreationally or carry concealed is what is required in that situation. A simple question or flippant remark met with a calm answer will produce the best possible outcome. However, if you are met with compounding ridiculousness or you can tell by the questions or comments that the person is simply anti-gun and not interested in hearing your meaningful answers, then the “go fly a kite” rebuttal almost always works. At that point, I default to my favorite saying: “Some will. Some won’t. Who cares? Move on.”