Contribution from freelance writer – Jess Walter
Female gun ownership is on the increase, with estimates of female gun owners at around 15 million. However, the history of gun-wielding females goes back to the founding of our nation. Since the invention of the first rifle in 1718, accurate and reliable guns have been an essential part of the fight against tyranny. America wouldn’t be the free society it is today without the help of the women who took up arms. Here is a look back at some of the most important women, who helped to create the second amendment and maintain the freedom and prosperity of the USA.
A performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Annie Oakley is known as one of the greatest sharpshooters of all time. She first came to prominence when she was just 15 years old, defeating Frank E. Butler in a shooting match. The pair would later go on to get married and travel the nation, showcasing their gun shooting abilities.
Born in rural Ohio to Quaker parents, Oakley is American through and through. She strongly supported and promoted women in the military during the Spanish-American War, viewing them as essential to the security of a free state. Believing that every woman should be able to hold a gun as naturally as they hold a baby, it is thought that Oakley is responsible for training 15,000 female shooters.
Born in 1788, Sacagawea would have handled some of the world’s oldest firearms. This Native American woman was fundamental to the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition, which was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. This was an epic quest to cover America, finding routes of communication and trade. It led to the foundation of America’s first national park and helped to secure a free territory.
Sacagawea was a member of the Shoshone tribe, who only used poisoned arrows as weapons. However, this was enough training to help Sacagawea become a skilled fighter. After being captured by the gun-owning Hidatsa tribe, she became familiar with firearms. Her background in nomadic tribes meant she was the perfect guide for Europeans looking to explore uncharted territory.
The founding of America depended on the existence of outlaws, who were willing to risk their lives in the fight against tyranny. These outlaw gangs wouldn’t have survived without the support of skilled female fighters. One such woman was Belle Starr, a member of the James-Younger gang.
Traveling by horse, with six guns strapped to her hips, Belle Starr was feared by many. She took part in multiple robberies and was fatally shot in 1889. However, her gun wielding legacy continues due to romanticized stories of her criminality. Her life is shaped by her experiences in the Civil War, in which the production and spread of guns was essential in forming a secure and peaceful state.
The Wild West was a formative period in the history of America. It is when wars were fought and territory explored to help create a free state. However, we often forget to acknowledge the role of women during this time. Whether it was a traveling show shooter, Native American guide or criminal outlaw, these women show that females can possess firearms and use them with high levels of skill and accuracy.