15 Million Women Own Guns For Self Defense: If You're a Woman, Should You?

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Women's self defense expert, Paxton Quigley, says that women need guns in her new book, Armed & Female: Taking Control. She also recommends that women carry a concealed gun in those states where it's legal.

When Paxton Quigley talks about women with handguns, it’s not TV’s “Nikita,” a trained assassin, but a woman in real life attacked in a parking lot or an elevator, coming out of the shower to find a stranger in her bathroom, or forced into a trunk by a “Samaritan” stopping to help with a disabled vehicle. While Nikita has weapons in her pocketbook or lipstick tube, most women are not action heroines. But with between 15 and 20 million women in America owning guns, self-defense is high on their agenda.

Paxton Quigley has trained more than 7,000 women to shoot. A graduate of the Executive Security International, the internationally recognized executive security and anti-terrorist school, she believes that women in America should own handguns and carry them in states where it’s legal. But originally Quigley, who also has a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, was not a person interested in guns. Her quest for self-defense began after a close friend was raped. Paxton Quigley asked her if she had had a gun, would she have used it. Her friend’s “yes,” was unequivocal and Paxton Quigley vowed this would never happen to her.

In ARMED & FEMALE: TAKING CONTROL, PAXTON Quigley talks about self-defense that works, such as street awareness, fighting techniques and setting up “safe rooms” in your home, as well as what is futile (pepper spray, stun guns, tasers, formal Karate). She also shows how to evaluate when a gun is the best option, for instance when a job requires cross-country travel. And once the decision to buy a gun has been made, Paxton Quigley gives information about buying one that “fits,” with tips about how it should be loaded, cleaned, and stored. She also discusses what kind of person should NOT own a gun, “gun proofing” your child, and most of all, the ethics of using legal defense.

While Paxton Quigley, might like a world without weapons, the reality is that a ban would mean law-abiding people would give up their guns, while the criminals would keep them. Add the millions of weapons carried by the military, and it’s easy to see that banning weapons is a fantasy—one that wasn’t feasible in frontier America any more than today. And, like that era, a woman is better off being in charge than being raped or killed. Weapons make a difference in a woman’s survival.

In ARMED & FEMALE: TAKING CONTROL, Paxton Quigley relates how after a spree of rapes in Orlando, Florida, thousands of women armed themselves. Training sessions were reported in the paper and rapes dropped to 3 that year. When Paxton Quigley visited San Quentin to talk to the perpetrators, mostly young men from violent backgrounds, she learned that women were attacked because they were perceived as easy targets. ARMED & FEMALE: TAKING CONTROL tells the stories of women who have turned the tables.

There were two students, Meg and Gretchen, who were threatened by a pizza man, until one of them managed to find the gun stowed in a hollowed-out book. There’s Katie, who when her car was disabled, took a ride from a Samaritan who turned out to be a killer. Locked in his trunk, she got her gun from her bag and saved herself. There’s the woman, who was surprised in the shower and managed to find her gun. Naked, she held it on her captor and made him call the police. Paxton Quigley also tells of a retired couple, who worked out a self-defense plan. When thieves weren't satisfied with their money and hurt the husband, the wife stopped him with her gun.

What these stories have in common, says Paxton Quigley, is that these people were prepared to use their guns and had them in an accessible place. There were no other options. While Paxton Quigley once shared the average woman’s fear and aversion to guns, as instruments of destruction, she now sees self-defense as a right. Yet many women choose karate or fitness classes, which aren’t so useful against a street fighter. Stun guns must be fired close tasers need to be reloaded fast. Some women like to think it’s a matter of “karma,” that if danger is out of mind, not addressed, it won’t happen. "Not true," Paxton Quigley says, "Bad things happen to good women."

But Paxton Quigley’s case studies show that in not planning for what is possible, a woman leaves herself open to harm. Some women never get over a rape and studies show women who don’t defend themselves suffer more than those who do. Knowing self-defense, in the street and at home, and training to shoot a gun within that context, are in fact the best security a woman can have.

Susan Weinstein
(212)645-4969

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