Sunday, May 16, 2010

More women buying guns

Tasha Hanish, with a semiautomatic on her belt and a rifle in her hands, looks as if she leapt out of a video game onto the NRA gun show floor.

If FNH USA thought the athletic brunette would be good fishbait to lure male gunbuyers away from the Remington and Smith & Wesson booths, they were right: men were rapt as she showed off the features of FNH guns.

She knows what she's talking about. "I'm 30, and I've been shooting for 17 years," Hanish told the Daily News. "My dad took us out hunting in Oregon. He taught me."

Now, she's ladies national champion in "three gun," the shooting sport where competitors hit targets as far away as 600 yards with a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle while running an obstacle course.

More women are buying their own guns than before, according to a 2009 survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which found that gun shop owners reported a 70% increase in female buyers last year.

Some women, like Hanish, are into the skill of target practice, while others bought their weapons for hunting. But the study found that most women are buying handguns for self-protection.

Laura Opalka is one example, "I learned how to shoot when I was 5 years old, but I didn't really decide to buy a gun until two years ago," said the stylish CPA inside the Charlotte convention center. "I grew up here, and I've seen it change. We have a large problem with illegal immigrants, and there has been an uptick in break-ins and violent crimes while at the same time the local government doesn't seem to be putting enough police on the street.

"I'm arming up," she said. "And when my 21-year-old daughter comes home from college, I want her to learn as well."

Kelly Underwood, a voluptuous blond who got into target shooting with her boyfriend, a lifelong hunter who works in law enforcement, said, "I actually hit the target. I was pretty proud of myself." But her reason to learn shooting is also one of self-defense: "I have a stalker," she explained.

American gun manufacturers, like Utah's Cobra company, have tried to "target" the female market with colorful small guns that shoot as few as two bullets. "We have pink, purple, fuschia," said Kimberley Wallace at the Cobra booth. "They're Derringers, just like the ones from the 1800s that ladies tucked in their garter belts."

But their most popular model with female customers is The Shadow, a pink .38 Special that weighs only 15 ounces. "It weighs about as much as a cell phone, and it fits in your purse," Wallace explained. "It has five shots, and if you're scared, you just pull this out and shoot, shoot, shoot."

"Ladies Only" shooting camps have begun sprouting up, including the Babes With Bullets camp, which trains everyone from the more advanced to "ladies who have never held a gun before."

The National Rifle Association itself scheduled nine women-only excursions this year to hunt coyote, bobcat, elk, deer, and in Alaska, wolf and black bear.

Still, says Hanish, women are in the minority, with only four women competing with 250 men in the next "three-gun" match. "A lot of women are afraid," she says. "It's fear of the unknown."


South Carolina: Woman Shoots At departing robbers: "An Inman woman said three men, one wearing a Halloween mask, broke down her door and ransacked her house on Wednesday. The woman said she was sleeping on the couch in her living room of her home on Knox Drive at about 10:30 p.m. when the men broke in through the front door. She said one man, who wore a greenish Halloween mask, held her at gunpoint on the couch while the other two men went through the home. The woman said that she had several bottles of medication on the table and a .357 revolver on a side table in the living room, but the only thing the men took was a box of ammunition. She said as soon as the men left the house, she got her gun and fired six rounds toward the driveway. She said she heard a loud pickup truck leave the area."

CT: Shot in the head but man fights back: "A 29-year-old Stamford man was shot in the back of the head early Sunday morning, then wrestled the gun away from his assailants, fired shots at the fleeing attackers, and drove himself to the hospital, police said. Some 12 hours later the man was released from the hospital with the slug still in the middle of the back of his head, just above the spine, Matheny said. The man faced an unknown number of assailants at an unknown location in Stamford, where, after being shot once, he took the gun away and fired rounds in self defense at the attackers as they fled, Matheny said. "It's not unusual for a small-caliber bullet to not penetrate the skull," Matheny said. "In this case, it appears to have lodged in the tissue under the skin outside the skull."

Government and gun control: "Just knowing Galligan doesn’t like this law made me interested enough to investigate it so here are some thoughts about HEA 1065. First, the law merely says that businesses must allow employees to keep a gun in their car. The gun must be in the glove compartment, or otherwise concealed, in a locked car or locked in the trunk. So I’m not sure why Galligan thinks it’s so horrible. Interestingly, some businesses are also against it and complain that politicians have passed another law telling them what they can and cannot do. Normally I completely sympathize with this argument. However, as explained above, the law protects the individual’s right to store her gun, which is her property, inside her locked car, also her property. If someone cannot do this while her car is parked at work, what does that say about an individual’s private property rights? Is her car and all of its contents her property or not? Therefore, as far as I can tell, this law requires business owners to do nothing but leave gun owners alone.”

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