By Samantha Radecki, Reporter
With a firearm in hand — this woman says she wants to help empower, equip and lead others. Tonight she held the first ever Well Armed Women meeting in Grand Traverse County. Her goal — to educate Northern Michigan women about guns and gun safety. The world of firearms is traditionally dominated by men. This new group is trying to give women who may be intimidated by gun ownership a chance to get involved. “Even if you’re not the best shot, it is literally the best feeling,” said Kari Massa, chapter leader. To Kari, a lot goes into handling firearms. “It’s not a sense of control or power. Essentially, it’s more that it’s about the gun itself. It’s a piece of machinery. It’s not that it’s gonna hurt anybody else. It’s the person behind it that needs to have the knowledge base with it,” she said. Within the past few years, she’s seen more women show interest in carrying, shooting and protecting themselves with firearms. So she held the area’s first Well Armed Women meeting in Kingsley tonight. “Everyone has their own reasons. Whether it be domestic violence, whether it be you travel alone, weather it be you live alone and … you feel uncomfortable,”said Gina Wesseldyke, the state chapter leader at the meeting.
The group is about women teaching women. They’ll learn how to clean, fire, carry and own firearms safely. “I just think it’s really important. Guns are everywhere. Everyone should know the rules of safety. Everyone should know how to operate a firearm. Everyone should know when not to touch a fire arm,” said Gina Schneider from Kingsley, who attended the meeting tonight.
In addition to safety, Kari says they encourage comradery, sport and knowledge of firearms. “When you’re up here and you aim and you hit that steel and you hear it ring — I can’t explain it. It’s awesome. It’s totally worth it,” she said. The group is open to all women in the Grand Traverse region. They meet on the third Tuesday of each month at the Kingsley Sportsman’s Club.