TAKING THE FEAR OUT OF FIREARMS
By Lydia GehringLiving Editor Published:
Guns make me skittish. They always have.
I grew up around them. My dad used to try his best to bring home at least one deer each hunting season and find some fancy way for my mom, brother and me to eat it — “Oh, the spaghetti will taste a little extra special tonight,” he’d say; or “I really kicked up the Manwich … wait until you try it!” But no matter how hard he’d try, we didn’t fall for his latest recipe using Bambi’s meat.
I never knew why guns scared me, because I never had a reason to be afraid of them. Everyone I’ve ever been around who has owned a gun has always known how to use it. My dad used to keep his shotguns unloaded, underneath my parents’ bed. And even though I knew there weren’t any bullets in them, I was always frightened to go anywhere near them — I never hid under there during games of hide and seek, that’s for sure.
But I’ve spent the past decade of my life as a reporter and I’ve heard the horror stories of the accidental deaths because of guns — siblings playing with them, thinking they were unloaded; a handgun being in the glovebox of a parent’s car; and hundreds of other gun-associated deaths.
Anyone living in Ohio can remember that day in February 2012 when T.J. Lane walked into the cafeteria at Chardon High School and opened fire on his classmates, killing three of them, wounding several others and leaving painful emotional scars on an entire community, my hometown. I spent the first 20 years of my life in Chardon, and even though I am pretty far removed from the town where I grew up, I still hurt for the victims, their families and everyone else who went through that awful day.
But that incident got me thinking: How could I use it to educate myself?
Oftentimes, guns aren’t used for good. But like many of the ladies who have become members of the Well Armed Woman, they can be used for education, which is what I decided to do with the tragedy in Chardon. A school shooting can obviously happen anywhere, at any time, so I decided now was the time for me to learn.
When I was invited to sit in on the first meeting of the Well Armed Woman, I was more than happy to accept. Not only was I excited to give this group some exposure in our community, but I also thought I could take this opportunity to learn gun safety for myself.
My husband had recently gotten his CCW and was more than willing to teach me all he knew about his own firearm, but between me and you, I really didn’t have any interest in learning from him. I just think all of the ins and outs of guns — these things I’ve always been scared of — would sink in much more if I was hearing it from women like me.
When all of the guns were displayed in front of me at PM Security Services Tactical Weapons Training Group in Danville, I was a bit overwhelmed! Which would I shoot? How would I hold it just right? What if I looked funny standing in front of my target? Blah, blah, blah …
Besides a BB gun, I had only ever shot my husband’s 9 mm, and I didn’t like the kick back — I know, I’m such a girl! I told Ed Atherton that, and he said the only reason I had any kick at all was because I wasn’t gripping it right. I owe my first night of shooting COMFORTABLY to Ed. He gave me his .45, showed me how to hold it, and low and behold, I had no kick back! Oh yeah, I wasn’t shaking either.
Being surrounded by others in the same boat as I was really put my mind at ease, and made pulling the trigger a little less scary. When I got to the meeting, I was expecting the ladies there to have lots of experience and be shooting pros. And although several of them had their CCWs and surely knew what they were doing, there were quite a few who were just like me — skittish of guns all of their lives, there to learn the safety of a firearm and educate themselves on the correct way to use it.
If you’re a girl like me who wants to learn about guns and educate yourself on firearm safety, I recommend getting involved with the Central Ohio chapter of the Well Armed Woman. It’s a great group of ladies who are just like you and me – like its motto says, “where the feminine and firearm meet.” I’d add it’s a great place to make friendships too.