TWAW In The News

Pistol-packing Utah women better shots than men?

BRIGHAM CITY — Ever-increasing numbers of women are apparently taking up arms and want to do so with other women, say those affiliated with the Box Elder County chapter of The Well Armed Woman Inc., a national organization devoted to meeting female firearm needs.

“We feel more comfortable opening up to other women,” said Crystal Walker, president of the Box Elder chapter.

“Men-taught classes are intimidating, we sometimes feel talked down to … We’re shaped differently and have to find our own center of balance.”

The chapter organized in July numbers 32 members and counting, Walker entertaining several email inquiries. Utah has four other Well Armed Woman chapters, including a Davis County group, Salt Lake County, West Jordan, and Orem, with Park City and St. George organizing.

The organization was founded by Carrie Lightfoot in Arizona in November 2012 and now numbers over 4,200 members in 42 states.

Thewellarmedwoman.com reports a 2011 Gallop Poll counted 47 percent of American adults currently with a gun in their home and 23 percent of women owning a firearm. “This reported gun ownership is the highest it has been in nearly two decades, with women being the largest growing segment of this in the historically male-dominated demographic.”

There’s a darker side to the gender aspect.

Some of the Box Elder chapter members come from abusive relationships, don’t want to be taught by men, and did not want to be quoted or photographed.

One told Walker she doesn’t want her ex to know where she is.

“I was surprised at the resistance of some of the members,” she said.

“But that’s part of this. They or a family member were a victim of domestic violence and they never want to feel that way again.”

“I was six years in an abusive relationship,” said one member who asked that her name be withheld.

“Broken jaw, concussion, the whole thing. I remember that scared rabbit feeling. That’s never going to happen to me again.”

She’s teaching firearms to her daughters.

“And it’s fun, family oriented. We have a good time target shooting. But I also feel good knowing they can protect themselves if they have to.”

But she and the 11 women who showed up for the chapter’s regular third-Thursday gathering at Impact Guns in Ogden were nonetheless very comfortable with the male guest speaker. Chris Willden’s talk preceded their hour on the indoor shooting range.

“It’s okay to kill,” the firearms and self defense consultant instructed. “If this turdface comes walking toward my family with an Uzi, I’m dropping him.”

Murder is different from killing in self defense, said Willden, a military veteran and former police officer with the Centerville, South Salt Lake and Weber State University departments.

“There’s an old saying: It’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six,” Willden said, talking about a jury versus pall-bearers. With the jury you have a chance to explain what happened, he said.

His Ogden-based company, Strategic Tactical Group, offers free concealed-carry permit certification training for women going through a contentious divorce or who have had to file a protective order or restraining order against a threatening male.

“Can you use lethal force to keep your children from being kidnapped?” he asked. “Yes you can. To prevent death or serious bodily injury or to stop the commission of a forcible felony, which includes kidnapping.”

Also Thursday night, some among the staff at Impact Guns, where every employee has a concealed-carry permit, said women tend to outshoot men.

“Women tend to be better shots,” said Darin Kendall, store manager. “It’s their dexterity, patience, better hand-eye coordination.”

Justin Hall, one of Kendall’s salesmen, agreed. “My wife has shot more deer than I have.”

“Lots of gun enthusiasts have noticed women are naturally better shooters,” Kendall said. “Especially among new shooters, when a husband and wife come in together.”

“We’re good,” agreed Cindy Boccia, Box Elder Well Armed Woman member, from Huntsville. The group is thinking of changing the name to Northern Utah because of the influx of Weber members.

“We focus more about the little things, about learning,” she said. “We want it to be perfect. Where a guy just wants to load and shoot. … I don’t like to put it this way, but there’s a certain level of ego with men.”

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