Woman With Her Gun-Amber Gaskins

 How I Became A Pistol Tote’en MamaI

I was always around guns growing up. Both, my mother and father, had their own. And quite the variety at that. But, I was never interested in learning about them.

Yeah, I shot them here and there.

Target practice with my dad…ect. ( what country girl doesn’t do that growing up?).

Yet, I still didn’t have a passion about them. Which I find very strange to this day.

It wasn’t until I met my husband, Tim, that I knew this vast world of guns, was for me. I wasn’t particularly keen on them when we met either. And to be totally honest with you, if he would have shown me his gun collection and announced how much of an enthusiast and pro gun he was, when we met….yeah, I would have ran for the hills.

No joke.

Thank goodness he took the gentlemanly route and slowly baptized me.

I now, am the proud holder of my concealed carry license, and yes, my .40 goes everywhere with me. My collection is growing quite rapidly and I’m like a proud mama about it too!  It just seems crazy to me too think back to the days when I didn’t know this much fun was out there. I, now feel the urgent need to introduce our 4 kids the importance of the “gun world”. They range from 11 to 7 and are with us at the range almost every time we go. I guess you could say guns bring our family together.

We enjoy it endlessly.

So, back to your question…I blame it solely on my wonderful and amazing husband, Tim.

A Little Levity

My 2nd grader came home and showed me her school work for the week.  As I looked through everything I came across a story she wrote about our family.

 We do not have any guns that look like this, unfortunately.  If she were a man, I would think she might be compensating for something.

Her teacher loved it!!

Change

After my March ordeal, I went through quite a bit of emotion that I have talked about a lot on here.  I have also talked about how I worked through it and got stronger in the process.

I have been feeling good about my progress and my growth for the most part, but the past 2 weeks have been emotional for me and I have had an unsettling restless feeling that I can’t seem to shake.

Back in March after I signed up for the CC class, I received an email from the instructor telling me to watch a video, sign up for the NRA and the VCDL(Virginia Citizens Defense League)  and, as we all know by now, I was a very compliant gal and not one to question authority, so 2 seconds after I got the email, I watched the video.  Then I signed up for both the NRA and the VCDL.

Those 3 things were pretty painless and I felt good that I had done something to further my knowledge into the new world I was entering.

Next a guy at my husband’s work told me I need to buy Massad Ayoob’s book In The Gravest Extreme, so I did along with 2 others

The night I received Massad Ayoob’s book, I sat down to read it, but I only got to about page 7, before I broke down in tears and told my husband, I can’t read this book.  I could not even think about letting my mind go where he was going.

I made it farther along in Kathy Jackson’s book, but I admit, there were certain parts of that book, I skipped and it took my weeks to finish it.

I put both books aside and haven’t thought much about either in the past 7-8 months, that is until I wrote the post “Betrayed By The Angel”.

That post got me to thinking about how far I have come, but it was more of a wake up call to how far I have to go.

As I recently mentioned on here, I have known for a while now that it was time to get some further training and to push myself to the next level, but for one reason or another I haven’t done it, so when an opportunity came up to sign up for a class in Tennessee, I took the plunge and signed up.

I was feeling better, but still unsettled.

The day before I read the article “Betrayed By The Angel”, I read a post on our local newspaper’s FaceBook page about a man in our town who had just shot himself in the leg with his Glock .40.  He was in his car, reached for the seatbelt and the gun went off.  His wife and 3 of his children were in the car with him and even though help arrived quickly, he did not survive the wound.

When I first heard the story, the details were sketchy, but it appeared he would be fine and my first thought was “Oh, no, the anti gun people are going to be all over this.”  I knew that this man probably missed something in his preparation to carry for the day.  Perhaps he didn’t have a holster or maybe he didn’t take the time to holster it properly, I didn’t know the situation, but I do know guns don’t go off by themselves and I was worried how the incident might be spun.

Unfortunately, as more and more information came out, I learned that he had died and selfish worry turned into utter sadness and I was literally sick to my stomach. 

I didn’t sleep much that night.  I was consumed with thinking about guns and safety and the reality of what guns can do.

Let me be clear, again,  I am always aware of what guns can do, always.  I am a safety fanatic and I am consciously aware each time I handle my gun not to become complacent.

I remember my husband telling me time and time again, complacency kills.  He has told me stories of Marines or soldiers during the war that took risks they never should have taken because they got too comfortable.  One would think war was one place that people would surely never lose focus, but it’s our nature.  Even war can become routine.

Those lessons have stuck with me and I am fully focused each and every time I handle my gun, which for me, is daily.

Knowing this and knowing that the reality of this tragic situation is that this man probably didn’t do something right, did little to comfort me.

An old familiar friend had returned.

I was afraid.

The next day I got up, went downstairs made my kids breakfast, packed their lunches, took a shower, ran some errands to 3 different stores, came home and spent the rest of the evening doing various things around my house.

My gun never left the safe.

The next day,  I read the “Betrayed By The Angel” story linked from the Cornered Cat’s FB page and I wrote my post.

Later that evening I got an email from a woman, I won’t say who because I didn’t ask if I could use her name, but it was a person with whom I have great respect.

I also won’t share all that was in the email, but I will say that this person gave me encouragement and said that even though in certain situations I have acted or not acted in way that were ideal, I could learn to do better.  I could change.

I spent the next few days reading and rereading that email.

As I read it and thought about the past 2 weeks, I began to identify the source of that uneasiness I had been feeling.

Complacency.

I had become complacent.

Not in my gun handling, but in my mind.  I had accepted the status-quo as good enough.

While I think it is good to grow and then rest for a bit, and it is healthy to give ourselves time to absorb what we have learned, I have had enough time for that and I knew it.

I have known that I needed to do more, but I let myself make a few convenient excuses.  Excuses my mind was not going to let me keep letting me make.

Excuses I used because I knew what lay beyond the next hurdle and I didn’t want to go there.

One would think I would have this lesson down pat by now, but I am good at pretending.  I have had years of practice.

BUT, I am STRONGER now and I am getting faster at recognizing the signs and I can change, I am determined to do so.

Yesterday I began rereading The Cornered Cat: A Woman’s Guide To Conceal Carry and this weekend I will dive into In The Gravest Extreme.

I will read them from cover to cover, without skipping a page and without pretending that I can keep on pretending.

The Walls Have Eyes

The other night my husband went to give our daughter her night chocolate before bed(our kids get turn down service) and he noticed she was in her closet.

He asked her what she was doing and she said putting some things in her safe.

 This is the shoe box she keeps her safe in.

This is her safe.  It looks pretty darn close to one of the safes we keep 2 of our hand guns in.

What a great reminder that our kids are watching us and they do what we do.  How very important that we do what is right.

More Conceal Carry

Last night, at the last minute, we decided to go out to dinner.  I did not have my gun on my body at the time, but I was tired and not really in the mood to change and figure out what to wear, so I just grabbed my holster and gun and put it on.

I need to point out here that I have recently learned that the various states have vastly different rules on carrying, so this may be more of an issue for you than it is for me.

I generally carry concealed.  Once in a while if I am with other folks that open carry, I will too, but it is not my everyday carry method, however, in Virginia I could open carry if I choose to do so.

In Virginia it is legal to open carry or conceal carry (if one has a permit) and the brandishing laws include an intent to intimidate, so simply having the gun reveal itself should my shirt come up would not get me a brandishing charge.  What that does for me, is help me to not have to stress so much about “hiding” the gun.

I generally chose to conceal for a ton of reason, but that is another post.

So, back to the point…

After I got myself all situated, my husband said, “wow, you can’t even tell you are carrying”.

I took a look in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised that the gun did not really print.

No real cover garment or extra prep.  Just grab my gun and go, this I like!

It also goes back to the last post I wrote on conceal carry.

Now, I am going to say right now, these are not the most flattering photos of my backside, but in the interest of  sharing my experiences in the hopes it might help someone, I will post them anyway, but believe me, in real life my hiney is much cuter:)

This is what I wore.  I am only giving the details to let you see how doable this really is.  Size 6 skinny jeans with a small thermal shirt under a small regular cut t-shirt.  These jeans do have some stretch to them which is good because even though I am on the thinner side, I do have hips.  Even in the Crossbreed holster the gun tends to pull a bit and cause me some irritation on my hip bone.  The stretch of the jeans tends to lessen this a great deal.  I wear my gun at about 8:30 and not in the small of my back, so I think that contributes a lot to the hip bone issue.  If you carry more towards 6:30, 7:00, then you probably have even more concealment. 

 Of course, if you are reading a blog about guns and concealment and you know I carry my gun on my left side, well then yes, it is pretty obvious to you that, that print is a gun, but I do not think the majority of folks would think that and we were heading out the door, so I didn’t really check the picture, but I think when my shirt is pulled down a bit, it is even less obvious that there is anything under there, let alone a gun.  However, if one was uncomfortable with this amount of print, I think even the lightest sweater would be plenty of a cover garment.

Woman With A Gun- Melinda Mercier

When I was a young teenager, I was aware that my father had a gun in the house for our protection and also one for his job. It wasn’t something that was shocking to me or particularly interesting at first. But few years back, my father was an armed security officer for our county’s federal courthouse (just a stone’s throw from the police station). There are a few night clubs in the near area as well. He worked a graveyard shift and noticed a young woman outside walking past the building and soon after a man walking very fast behind her. Alerted, he went out to investigate and around the corner heard a yelp. 

The man had grabbed the woman and yanked her over the bushes in an empty parking lot, got her on the ground and began unbuttoning his pants. My father pulled out his gun, told the man to stop, the woman ran and clung to him and the perp froze for a second. 

Unfortunately, my father could not shoot because his own life was not in danger, nor was the woman’s any longer. Realizing this, the man ran off before my father could arrest him. 

When he told me that story, I couldn’t help but think “How lucky could to have someone with a gun around to save her!” But the more I got to thinking, the more I realized: How much better would her odds have been had she had a gun in case there was NO ONE around to save her? It was something my father made sure his daughters knew about the world: it can and WILL happen to anyone and we need to be aware of our surroundings. 

I took it a step further and this year in April received my CCW permit, and my father bought my hubby and me a handgun as our wedding gift (per my request). And now I’M OBSESSED with learning about them and conceal carry! LOL! I’ll be purchasing my second hopefully this month. (a Kimber 1911)*

Betrayed By The Angel

If you do not follow The Cornered Cat on FaceBook then YOU SHOULD.

She posts the most thought provoking ideas, articles, and questions of anyone I have ever read.

She posted this article today and I thought it was so profound.

It goes back to every thing I have been taught since the very first day of my Conceal Carry class: it starts with THE MIND.

If you are a gun person or a man then that is most likely very obvious to you, I am sure, but if you are a woman, especially one that was not fortunate enough to be raised by parents who taught her to fight, then, it just isn’t that obvious.  In fact, for me, it’s always been the opposite.

The obvious thing for me to do was nothing, was not to fight.  Not fighting was the most natural thing the world to do.

It was so ingrained in who I was.  If someone came at me, I never even flinched.

I may have shared this before, I used to be a youth leader at a local church and one day we all went to another leaders house for a party.  He had a pool and everyone was swimming except for me.  I was dressed, as I usually was back then, in dress pants, dress shoes and a very nice top.  I was standing by the pool with my back turned to the crowd and a lady came up behind me and intentionally pushed me in.

I don’t remember thinking anything.  I wasn’t afraid and I wasn’t concerned, I just fell right in.  I didn’t try to grab for anything.  I didn’t, by instinct, reach out and try to pull her in.  I just fell exactly where I was pushed.

Even after I realized what had happened I did not get upset or complain that my new shoes were ruined, I just smiled and made a joke.

At the time, I actually thought what a nice person I was. I cared more about people and their feelings than to get upset about something that didn’t matter anyway, like shoes.

But, today I see it much different.  Not so much the reaction afterwards, but the lack of instinct to fight in the first place.

What happened to this woman in the article Betrayed by the Angel is much worse than anything that has happened to me, but I think we share a mindset, a mindset that, has not served either of us well.

After I read this article I posted this comment on The Corned Cat’s page…

I cried through this entire article. I was not raped, but when I was standing in the parking lot being bullied, I just stood there and didn’t think for a minute to fight. I was calm and worried about my daughter’s safety and I kept thinking how to get her out of there, but I didn’t scream or demand that he stopped coming at me. It was by sheer luck that something worse didn’t happen to me and my daughter and though I get stronger everyday and more resolute about fighting for my life, should the situation present itself, I still am afraid sometimes. It is why I am a nut about training. I just want to keep trying to convince my mind I am strong enough to fight and when the sh*t hits the fan, I will not be nice and polite and just take it. I don’t want to just stay alive, I want to live and I want to fight.

Betrayed By The Angel