BBC News Story on firearms/Femaile/Pres. Election


September 15, 2008, 07:59 PM

Annie, get your gun

Jon Kelly 15 Sep 08, 06:24 AM GMT

Carol Ruh cried the first time that she held a gun. Visiting a shooting range in Arizona while on holiday with her husband, her anti-firearms views made the trip an upsetting experience.

But after she told the staff of her discomfort, she underwent an epiphany.

"It was one of those life-defining moments," she recalled. "The gentleman behind the counter said: 'It's not the gun that kills, it's the person behind it.' And that made a lot of sense to me.

"If your heart is that set on doing damage, you can use a chair, a baseball bat, a pen..."

Since that day, Carol's attitudes have changed completely. Having moved to Phoenix permanently, she now runs classes teaching other female shooters how to hone their skills and heads a group called the Arizona Women's Shooting Association. Every time she leaves the house she reaches for her handbag, her keys and her gun.

I'm sure you've guessed why I wanted to come to their range. As soon as Sarah Palin's place on the Republican White House ticket was announced, pundits around the world picked over the apparent disparity between the Alaska governor's femininity and her handiness with a rifle.

And here, too, the lady shooters didn't conform to the stereotype of gun enthusiasts as rabid, wild-eyed survivalists. They'd laid on sandwiches and soda for me and chatted away about their children and careers. They were nice people.

But I admit that I'm uneasy around guns. I mentioned in my initial post how I've lived through the import of many American phenomena to my homeland - some of them good, some of them bad. The senseless killing of schoolchildren with firearms fell squarely into the latter category.

Of course, none of the women I met at the range liked violence any more than I did. I could see that they came here for the pleasure of firing at paper targets. All the same, it seemed that guns symbolised something more to them.

"Darling, you're in the west," laughed Carol. "This was the way of life out here. The whole genre of America was built on the west. It's part of out culture."

I think she was right about this. Europeans have no second amendment, no folk memory of living in a frontier society.

And the same applies to other parts of the US, too. Carol said she wouldn't vote for Barack Obama because he and running mate Joe Biden, both supporters of gun control, didn't understand why she loved shooting.

I wanted to find out what made this culture appealing to women, though, especially after Carol's husband Pete, also a convert, told me that he believes they are better at hitting a target than men.

"Their hand-eye co-ordination is better," he said. "They're more patient. You don't get any of the macho stuff."

So I got talking to Andrea Barringer, 27, who was sporting a chunky Glock 9mm on her hip. She'd grown up around guns, firing her first shot at the age of five.

"I think it's a fun pastime," she told me. "I go out shooting in the desert.

"Plus, I'm a single woman. If I was ever in that situation..." She left the sentence hanging.

Andrea hadn't decided to vote yet, but liked the look of Sarah Palin - a "typical American woman" to whom she could relate.

So too could 56-year-old flight attendant Lorra Moore. She'd only been shooting for a year under Carol's instruction, but hoped that the Alaska governor's prominence would encourage more females to take up the sport.

"I think it will really help to deflect the fears of women who don't understand guns," she said. "They don't understand that they can use them as easily as a man."

There was still one thing I wanted to know, though. What did she have to say to those - both American and foreign - who saw massacres like Dunblane and Columbine as a priori arguments for gun control?

"Those incidents were horrific," she said. "But the bad guys are always going to get the guns.

"I want to preserve the right of the good guys to protect themselves."

I nodded. This very American debate would continue long after I'd gone. I got back on the bus with the sound of pistol-fire ringing in my ears.

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September 15, 2008, 08:12 PM
Nice article very nice indeed

September 15, 2008, 08:26 PM
Perhaps even across the pond there is some hope...

September 15, 2008, 08:33 PM
I think Sarah Palin is putting a very visible face on women and the 2A, something long past due.

September 15, 2008, 08:38 PM
The broadcast version I heard on the BBC World Service last night was better. The reporter actually shot a gun.

September 15, 2008, 08:40 PM
It was mostly positive, the only things that could be construed as negative are the author's predisposition to dislike guns (to be expected) and this line:
The senseless killing of schoolchildren with firearms fell squarely into the latter category.

... Of course, killing them with bombs as happened in the Bath School Massacre is totally acceptable, right? Heck, back then we didn't have any firearm regulations to speak of (none that I'm aware of; I believe the ones set against blacks in the antebellum south were already abolished) and people didn't use guns. It's the whole "forbidden fruit" thing in my opinion.

September 15, 2008, 09:08 PM
Y'all don't want to read the looks like one anti has been busy all day writing under different names.

Standing Wolf
September 15, 2008, 09:33 PM
The reporter actually shot a gun.

Is that legal?

September 15, 2008, 09:34 PM
Y'all don't want to read the looks like one anti has been busy all day writing under different names.

Keep reading. Some of us have hit back.

September 15, 2008, 11:03 PM
"Perhaps even across the pond there is some hope..."

There's a video of the British protesting to get their guns back.

Intrepid Dad
September 16, 2008, 06:48 AM
There is always hope. Especially when someone with a position to influence others writes positively about the right to keep and bear arms.

September 16, 2008, 07:52 AM
Answers like this one really boggle the mind.
72. At 04:16am on 16 Sep 2008, GabeinWashington wrote:

As a life-long Republican, I wish I could support what the Republican Party has become. Instead, for the 3rd time I will vote for the Democrat and for the second time I will vote a straight Democratic ticket.

I hope for two things in November: 1) the Republicans don't get ANOTHER four-years in the White House and 2) the Democrats will leave the issue of gun control alone. Lest they forget that the pro-gun block voters started voting straight Republican after Bill Clinton's statistically undefendable Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 forced them away from the Democrats.

Maybe the Dems will figure that out... I'll give them my vote and hope that they do. By the way, sarcastically I say, has anyone noticed that the British haven't invaded the US since we adopted the 2nd amendment? Who says it doesn't work!

Before anyone dismisses me as a backwards hillbilly, please know that I am actually an urban family man, working on his graduate degree while working for the federal government. I am neither bitter nor am I disenfranchised? too bad the Democrats what to stereotype me as this simple because I am pro-gun and see this as an individual right.

And before the pro-gun people dismiss me for voting ?against guns,? please bear in mind that I am a life-member of the National Rifle Association and I tend towards a constitutional political belief? I am one of you, I?m just not a right-wing religious zealot and that?s why I cannot vote, in good conscious, for the Republican party

Sure sounds like that "lifelong" Republican is actually a Democrat.

September 16, 2008, 05:24 PM
Sure sounds like that "lifelong" Republican is actually a Democrat.

....Or believes in the Constitution as it was written!

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