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Concealed Carry for Women Today - A Panel Discussion

Most women who are new to firearms, but interested in getting a concealed carry permit and pistol for protection, would first like to know how having a pistol has impacted other women. Hopefully the comments from members of this panel will answer those questions. The discussion is sponsored by Pistol Packn Mama, a retailer of concealed carry items committed to gun education, and providing knowledge about concealed carry and its benefits. The panel is made up of five women who have concealed carry permits, each with a totally different background from the others. They will provide insight into their concealed carry experiences.

My name is John Mitchell, founder of Pistol Packn Mama. I would like to thank everyone for attending to hear the background of these five women, what made them decide to start carrying a concealed pistol, the events that have occurred since they obtained their licenses, such as challenges, benefits and tips on beginning concealed carry.

The format of our discussion will be such that I will pose a general question that each of our panelists will answer from their experience. They've had some time to think about the questions in advance and will give us their reactions. I have also asked each to provide their age to offer some context for our listeners, which they’ve agree to do. Let me introduce each panelist, and we’ll let them take it away.

The first lady on our panel is Sissy Monsour. She is a hairdresser at a downtown salon. She is single and lives in an apartment in the suburbs. She has a small dog and likes roller-skating for exercise.

Our next panelist is Katherine Gaudet. She is a professor at a local university and the head of the English department there, where she’s been teaching for 30 years and now has tenure. Professor Gaudet is married and has two grown children.

Nellie Lawson is our next guest. Nellie is a professional woman who works as a claims adjuster for a large insurance company. She has been working for the insurance company for 12 years and has lived in 3 different cities since she started working.

Laura Willis, our next panelist, is a certified NRA instructor and teaches beginning handgun classes to new handgun users. She is married with 3 children. Laura got her NRA certification 8 years ago and has trained and certified hundreds of new pistol users.

Our final panelist is Millicent Wandrop who is a stay at home mom with two small children. She is a homemaker and takes care of her husband and kids.

John: Sissy, if we could start with you. Tells us about your background and how you started to carry a concealed pistol.

Sissy: I am Sissy Monsour and I am 24 years old. As was said I work at a salon downtown. Actually the location of my work has a lot to do with why I carry a concealed pistol. My salon is not in the safest part of town. During the day everything is great. There are a lot of people on the street. I feel very safe when I leave the shop to go to lunch or I have to run errands during the day. I usually get to work at about 7:00 AM but my work day is fairly long and most days I don't get off work until 7:30 or 8:00 PM, well after dark. This part of town seems to change after dark. You don't see very many people on the street then or very many cars going by. I think you can see where this is going.

About six months ago one of the girls working in our shop was attacked on the street about two blocks from our shop. She got beat up pretty bad. There were about five of us girls working in the shop that were trying to decide whether or not we should get concealed weapons—it could have been any of us that night! None of us had any experience with guns, but we knew we had to do something to protect ourselves. We all went to the same NRA training specialist to learn how to use a pistol. My boyfriend who just got out of the Marine Corps had been urging me to get a concealed carry permit so that I would be safe coming home from work. After our friend was attacked I did not need any more motivation. In fact the other girls and I had an easier time of it since we knew each other during training. We all go to the range together to practice. My boyfriend usually goes along with us and practices too. It made it a lot easier for us to get our concealed carry permits together. It made it a lot more fun, but we’re also very committed to and respect our handguns as a result.

Since we all have a concealed carry permit now and are carrying concealed carry weapons we laughingly say that our shop will never be attacked. We all feel more confident about our own self protection because of our training and our concealed weapons. No one in our shop has had to use their pistol to defend themselves yet. But it is a good feeling knowing we can if we need to.

John: Thanks Sissy! Can you tell us what kind of pistol you carry?

Sissy: Yes, it's a Kahr P380.

John: Thanks a lot Sissy, we appreciate you giving us your background. Professor Gaudet if you don't mind, tell us a little about your concealed carry background.

Katherine: Yes, I am Dr. Katherine Guadet. I am 58 years old. Please call me Kate. I don't have a dissimilar story from Sissy, actually. As John mentioned, I’m the head of the English department at the University where I work. This role requires that I spend some evening hours at my office before leaving for home. Our university does have a security patrol that works throughout campus 24 hours a day, but, as they always remind us, they can't be all places at all times. So, when I leave at night, I’m very conscious of always bringing my concealed carry purse. I park about two blocks from my office, which is the closest parking space, reserved for faculty. We have a lot of big trees on the grounds of our campus that provide cover, so it can be very dark at night even though there are streetlights. Several years ago when I became head of department I decided to be safe and not sorry. I contacted a local NRA certified trainer to help me select a pistol which I could carry concealed. She helped me go through the process of getting the right gun for my purposes, taught me how to practice with it, and eventually get my concealed carry permit. So now when I go to the car in the evening, I have the security of knowing I can protect myself. So far I haven't had to draw my weapon for self-defense, but I have much more confidence knowing I have the protection I need.

I really think that a lot of women who aren’t currently owners of concealed carry permits and concealed carry pistols should be, just for their own peace of mind. If this was to change on a national basis,I’m betting there would be a lot less violence against women.

John: Thanks Kate, we appreciate your input. Can you tell us what pistol you own?

Kate: My pistol is a Beretta NANO 9mm.

John: Nellie I guess your next. If you could, fill us in about your experience with concealed carry.

Nellie: Hi everyone. My name is Nellie Lawson. I am 39 years old. I am a claims adjuster for a large insurance company. My job takes me from one side of the city to the other at all hours of the day. I go into every part of the city. Some parts are very safe at all hours of the day, some are safe only part of the time, and, quite honestly, some are never safe. The vice president of our company had a meeting with all his claims adjusters two years ago. Because of the national emergency around violence in cities, he recommended that all of us get concealed carry permits and start carrying concealed weapons. I was surprised to find out that 25% of our claims adjusters already had concealed carry permits. I think this surprised him also, and he was committed to making sure we all felt as protected.

I can honestly say that I had no experience with any kind of weapon prior to starting my concealed carry training. The company arranged for us to have a certified concealed carry trainer to get us up to speed with weapons. In fact, we were even given some time off twice a week in the afternoon to go to our concealed carry class. Our instructor had a connection with a firearms manufacturer and was able to get a considerable discount for all of us in the class who needed to purchase a pistol. Now we have formed a small group of employees who train together. Three of us go to the range together to practice a couple a nights each month, and like Sissy said, I think it’s really helpful.

I must say that I do feel much more confident about being able to protect myself if I need to because I now have a concealed carry pistol. Even better than that, I know how to use it properly.

John: Thanks very much Nellie. Can you tell what your pistol is?

Nellie: Yes it is a 1911 3-inch 45 caliber.

John: Laura can you give us some insight into your experience with concealed carry?

Laura: Sure. My name is Laura Willis. I am 45 years old. I have been involved with pistol training for some time now. My husband is a certified NRA trainer and has been for years. I teach certification classes for new users of handguns. I have not been doing it as long as my husband has… Actually, let me give you some background on why I became a certified trainer. I’ll tell you right off the bat that I think it's important for any woman to have a means of protecting herself. Carrying a concealed pistol is the best way to do that.

A few years ago my husband Chuck and I bought a new house in a new area that we were not familiar with. It was new construction no one had ever lived there before. About three weeks after we moved into our new place Chuck had to go on a business trip and I was left home alone. I had already gotten my concealed carry permit and had been going to the range to practice with my weapon a couple times a week.

Chuck and I do not have any children, so I keep my gun and an LED flashlight in the nightstand drawer next to my bed at night. Our bedroom is upstairs on the second floor and one night after I had gone to bed, I was awakened by a loud noise downstairs. I had talked to my husband that afternoon and he’d told me he would not be home for another three days, so I knew it wasn’t him. I looked at the clock next to my bed. It was 2:30 AM. I thank my training for my peace of mind and what it enabled me to do next.

Very slowly, I slid the drawer of my nightstand open to retrieve both my pistol and flashlight. I made as little noise as possible. I heard some further rustling noises from downstairs. I clicked my pistol safety off and slipped out of the bed, moving slowly over to the door next to the stairs. As I peeped out the door and downstairs I could see the silhouette of someone standing next to my china cabinet. From that angle, I could not tell if they were facing toward me or away from me. Aiming my pistol, I had a clear shot. My training had said for me to aim at center mass, but I could see the shape of their head clearly. My laser sight was very true and fired at the middle of their head. They fell backward from the round hitting them, then rolled off the wall into one of my chairs. The weight of the fall broke the back of the chair. The person didn't move.

I ran to the phone across my bedroom and dialed 911. The police were there in a few minutes and I didn't go downstatirs until they arrived. My shot had hit the burgular just above the left eye. He was dead before he hit the floor. He had a pistol stuck in his belt. My training had paid off. I had successfully protected myself and probably saved my life.

My experience with the burglar made me think that there are a lot of folks, women especially, who don't have adequate personal protection. My husband had been encouraging me for a few months to become a certified NRA instructor, as he was. When we spoke later that night and found out what had happened he said that it was time for me to train others to protect themselves too. I got my certification in the next few weeks and have been training new gun owners ever since.

I will be honest with you, it is a very scary thing to shoot someone, even if it is somebody who you know is capable of doing you harm. You have to be ready for that if you carry concealed.

John: Laura you have given us a lot of food for thought. Thanks for your insight and for sharing such a personal story. I’m sure that’s still not easy. Can you tell us what kind of pistol that you carry?

Laura: My pistol is a SIG Sauer P238 with a Laser.

John: Thanks very much. Millicent, it is your turn. Can you tell us your experiences with concealed carry?

Millicent: I don't have anything as exciting as Laura, but here goes. My name is Millicent Wandrop. I am 33 years old and a stay-at-home mom. I have 2 kids, ages 7 and 9. I got my concealed carry permit before both my kids were born. If I had to do it now I doubt if I could, my kids take up a lot of my time so I’m glad I got it when I did, especially now that I have them to protect. I carry my pistol in my concealed carry purse. When I am at home I keep it locked in a gun safe. I still manage to get to the range with a group of friends about 3 or 4 times a month for practice. I really have not had any great experiences since I got my permit and started to carry a pistol. When I went through my training I had a very good instructor and she taught me a lot about being observant of what is going on around me—situational awareness and all that—certain ways to avoid instances where I might get into trouble. One of her main points about concealed carry was to always take the route of not using your pistol if you can, by being observant and staying out of situations where you might have to. This has been particularly helpful for me as a mom. Knowing I could protect myself and my children is very different from them actually seeing me do so. I’d rather not expose them to that so young, but it’s nice to know I’m capable.

Her classes made me much more aware of my surroundings than before.

John: Thanks Millicent, you gave us some very good points. It’s not always about using the pistol, in most cases it’s about doing everything you can not to. You just dispelled a great misconception. Can you tell us what pistol you carry?

Millicent: Yes, it is a Glock 42

John: Thank you. Everyone on our panel has brought out very significant points for successful concealed carry. I want to thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas with us today. I am sure that others will benefit from your thoughts as well!