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Monday, February 27, 2012

Part One - Your Personal Protection In Your Home

This is the first of a series of articles which will focus on protecting yourself in your home. Many of you either own a firearm for self protection or are seriously considering it as an option. If perhaps armed self protection is not for you, these articles will provide information that is important for all women. 
For those of us that have chosen to own a firearm, we have done so not because we want to use them, we own firearms because in the event our lives or that of those we love are in imminent danger, competent use of a firearm could be the difference between life and death. It is the last resort option. With that said, we want to work diligently to prevent the likelihood that we will be in that position. 
Home invasions happen, they happen in all kinds of neighborhoods, to all kinds of people in every state and many times with gruesome outcomes. The difference in the outcome can be in how well we prepare and how well we act when it happens to us. I will begin this series with the focus on our first line of defense, the outdoors of our home and the physical barrier that is our home.  
Our first task then, is to make our homes "less likely" or "less appealing" to invasion. Criminals are lazy, they want it easy. They want easy entry and soft targets to attack. They naturally look for the path of least resistance. So let's give it everything we've got to make it extremely challenging and difficult. You want your home to look and be less appealing than others in your area. I want the invader to look at my home and say to himself - "not that one - too much work and too much risk".  When we are out and about, what we project physically is often the first factor a criminal assesses in making the decision on wether we are vulnerable targets. When we are out in public then, we want to project strength and invulnerability. Our task then is to make our homes project the same strength and invulnerability.
There are some basic things we can do to accomplish this and improve our home security. Your grounds and landscaping speaks loudly. Keep your shrubs below window level so you can always see a potential threat. Obstructing shrubbery or trees can be used to hide an intruder and keep them from sight of neighbors or passersby's who might call police if they see someone suspicious. Perhaps cacti or other obnoxious (yet attractive) vegetation could be used that would create a barrier and make your home very uninviting. Remember we want our homes to say "you are not invited here!". 
Always keep your garage doors closed, this seems obvious but many times we forget to close them or leave them open for convenience. This obviously makes your home vulnerable and many items in the garage could be used to assist the criminal. Don't leave garage openers in the car.  Many car's now have them built in to the visor which is a great option. Keep them locked in the glove compartment if you must leave it in your vehicle.  Storing ladders and other tools outside the home will also make the criminals task easier. 

Install solid doors with appropriate dead bolt locks on all exterior doors and keep them locked at all times. It is amazing how many women keep their doors unlocked when they are home. There are some very attractive security screen doors and bars that can be utilized. It is extremely important however, that you can unlock them or remove from the inside in the even

t you need to evacuate your home in case of a fire. Install wide angle peepholes and use them religiously. If you live in a multiple story building, keep all ground floor windows locked. Interior door security bars, placed on the inside of the door, under the door knob that wedge against the floor are a great added deterrent and can really frustrate an intruder. I use one on my front door and the door to my bedroom.
We must raise our awareness to threats, even when we feel the natural security of being in our familiar and comfortable home. Things like pet doors can make an obvious entry point for a determined invader. Like me, many of us have sliding glass doors which are real "weak spots" in a home's security. There are rods that can be laid in the track to prevent or obstruct forced entry and devices that make sliding doors less vulnerable - install them! 
We all want a beautiful home, one that is filled with our precious belongings. Be aware however that the criminal wants those things too. So give attention to the placement of valuables where they can't be seen through a window or a door. 
Criminals like the dark, so let's then "Give Them Light", lots of it. Having plenty of exterior lighting around the perimeter of your home is very upsetting to an intruder, motion activated lighting is a great option. Place lighting around all entrances, corners, the garage and any area where perhaps foliage, fences or other items create a hidden and dark area.  
Criminals also like it quiet - so let's give them a noisy welcome when they arrive. Home 
security alarms is of course an option and there are many company's and systems available and worth looking into. There are some alternatives if this is not feasible for you, like simple door and window alarms that attach to the frame and ring or sound when someone enters. Keep a ear piercing whistle or your spare car keypad near your bed and hit the alarm button if you sense an intruder, any noise is good noise. Of course a barking dog can be a great deterrent, but do keep in mind that most criminals are ready to befriend a dog with a nice piece of meat or other treat! 

If you travel or leave town for any period of time you must stop paper and mail delivery or 
have a neighbor or friend diligently retrieve them for you. Nothing says "come on in" like a driveway or door step loaded with papers and mail. Keep in mind the state of your landscaping as well as an unattended yard in your absence is a flag for criminals, many who watch a home for a period of time prior to invading. 
One final thought on the exterior security of your home and that is who you allow into your home. Anyone who enters your home a breach of your security plan, so who you allow to enter must be those that you are fully comfortable and familiar with. Do not let strangers in at any time. If someone needs assistance or needs to use your phone, offer to make the call for them or call 911 for them, from inside your home with the door closed. Verify any and all service men, utility representatives and even authorities by calling the company and verifying their identity and authorization to be in your area. We tend to worry about being rude, this kind of preventative action is not rude, it is wise. Any legitimate professional or intelligent person would understand your caution.
Of course there is so much more on this subject, and throughout this series, I will attempt to provide valuable information and discussion on the many topics involved in protecting yourself at home. Next we will talk about having, equipping and using a "Safe Room" in your home. A great resource that I encourage you to purchase is "The NRA Guide To The Basics of Personal Protection In The Home".  ($19.95) This is a fabulous handbook that I feel every woman should own, read and re-read. It is chock full of great tips, resources and in depth  and detailed information. 

Please be aware, alert and prepared. That makes you a Well Armed Woman! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Three F's - Feminine, Fear & Firearms

For some reason, these three can add up to equal "I could never have a gun". Why is that? Is it genetics? Is it upbringing or social training? I am not trying to change anyones mind, we each have the right and privilege of making choices and decisions for ourselves. I am simply attempting to perhaps open some minds that are possibly walled off by the common "brick and mortar" of the unknown and the unfamiliar. Let's dissect this equation and see if we can make some sense of it and begin to chip away at the wall of fear regarding firearms many women have.

The FEMALE... Yes, the pretty, dainty, gentle and nurturing gender. Always taking care of others, always polite and never aggressive. Most of us grew up in Sunday dresses, playing with Barbie's, cooking pretend food and nursing our sick stuffed animals back to health. These things aren't bad, they are part of what makes us wonderful and is why we grow up to be such amazing mothers and wives.It is though, what has contributed to those "bricks and mortar" we discussed at the start of this article. We were protected little girls then, now we are independent and living in a world that requires us to be strong and capable of protecting ourselves. We must get more comfortable with some traits and skills that will need nurturing and practice, perhaps we can look at it as learning to think and play like a boy!

Now, lets talk about FEAR. Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. The key word here is perceived. Fear can be a very healthy and valid emotion, one that when based on a known and real threat can work to protect us. When is a fear valid for you? Knowledge builds confidence and gives a framework to sort valid perceptions from invalid ones. With knowledge, you may make a clear decision that a firearm is not for you, but that decision will be based on information that has become known to you, therefore truly validating your decision as a right one for you.
The unknown however, is just that - not known. We need to make it known. So the task therefore is to take the unknown of firearms and make it known. To come to the place of knowledge in what it means to own and fire a gun, and under what circumstances would you be willing to use it. This does not mean going and getting a gun and shooting it today, it may simply mean doing some research, reading articles and books, as well as talking with women that have come to be comfortable with firearms. The task is to take the unfamiliar and make it familiar. 

Something else to consider is the very real fear, based on knowledge and facts that we see daily on and in the news, is that as women, we are vulnerable to and at risk of violent attacks, rape and home invasions. I encourage you to really consider which fear is greater and explore why. What would you do if assaulted violently? Do you think that you are not at risk of such horrific attacks? Should your fear of guns be greater than your fear of heaven forbid, being attacked? 

Now on to the FIREARM. A firearm is a machine. A rather simple one that uses pressure from a burning powder or an explosive charge to force a projectile through and out of a metal tube. It is made up of parts, each serving a different function and put together in a specific manner. There is no motor. Specific actions must happen for the round to fire. It operates in only one way. One simple action that can only be activated by a human. I am being very simplistic here, I realize this, but the point is, a firearm does not fire spontaneously on its own. A series of actions must happen in order for a round to be fired. Just as a car cannot start itself or steer itself. A parked car is just that, a parked car. A firearm can't aim itself and cannot fire itself. As we all have heard many times, guns don't hurt people, people hurt people. 
I think we can all see the reality in such a statement. 

As women, we have our share of experience with machines, many way more complicated than a firearm! It's probably fair tosay that most of us have not however, had much experience with such masculine machines, like car engines, power tools or guns. We can however, no matter how limited our experiences have been, learn to operate these or any machines, simply through the process of learning and understanding them and how they work. 
"Rube Goldberg machines/devices/inventions”…
So we know what a firearm is. It is a machine made of parts with no motor. It is a machine that must be manipulated by a human to fire and it is something we can choose to become familiar with and skilled in operating safely. 

We have looked at the three F's in an attempt to understand why women so often hesitate to consider armed personal defense. We understand these three things:
We have been raised to be compassionate, gentle women, we have fears that we need to understand and that only knowledge and experience can clarify, and guns are foreign to us.

I want women to feel empowered and to be responsible for their lives and their safety in a way that brings them confidence. There is more than one way to do this, but to take responsibility for your safety in the way that is right for you, you must with an un-mortared mind, fully explore and understand the choices. Then you can make decisions from a place of knowledge and understanding. That is where the feminine and firearms meet!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Phenomenon of Women Purchasing Firearms is Much More...

Recently the news has been flooded with stories of the recent rise in women purchasing handguns. The catchy headlines of "Chicks with Guns" and the undertones hidden in "Babes and Bullet's" is totally missing the mark and minimizing this ever growing group of intelligent and empowered women.
Photos of pink guns flash across the screen as if it is some grand shopping spree, when what is really happening is that smart and strong women are simply taking responsibility for their own self protection. This is a very serious issue, just ask any women that has been assaulted, raped or had their home invaded. If violence has not touched them personally, it has to women they know.

Women are eager to learn how to handle a gun safely and with confidence. This is evidenced by the fact that gun safety classes across the nation are filled to capacity with women. The male driven gun industry needs now to be eager to learn how to meet the needs of these women. Yes, pink is a very nice color and makes for a very attractive gun or holster, but the needs of women go much deeper than pink. What women want is a gun they can be comfortable with, shoot proficiently, carry comfortably and one that will do what it is meant to do, stop an attacker.

An educated, equipped and empowered woman is a fierce force - when attacked AND at the cash register.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Women, A Neglected Consumer Group In A Man's World?

There was a great comment posted on The Well Armed Woman's Facebook page which really identified one of the challenges we have as women as we enter the testosterone rich world of firearms. It also highlighted the potential we have as a "consumer group" to effect and influence the firearm industry. USA Today reported that in 2011, women make up 23% of firearm owners. This is substantially up from 15% in 2010 and 13% in 2009. In Shelley's FB post, she mentioned the "desire for women to be recognized as actual, potential customers! I cannot tell you how many times I get ignored...and I don't like to spend my money where I'm not appreciated!"
Women are a mighty consumer force and we have some very specific needs which must be met to make decisions and correct purchases. Not an unreasonable request when we are spending our dollars on potentially life saving equipment and accessories.
Let's have a constructive discussion on what we need specifically to have these needs met and what The Well Armed Woman can do to not only satisfy what is needed, but to be an influence and a voice in the firearm industry. Please share with The Well Armed Woman your thoughts, ideas and needs on this subject.