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Female gun owners to rally

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Lisa Clark fires her pistol at Eastern North Carolina Indoor Shooting Range.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Debbie Harper said the reason she obtained a concealed carry permit years ago and has a small gun on her person was because of a threat communicated over the phone.

Harper, 55, of Spring Hope, recalled the subsequent problem was she secured the paperwork before obtaining training in how to handle a firearm.

So Harper joined The Well Armed Woman chapter in Wendell approximately five years ago. In March 2018, she helped establish a chapter in the Twin Counties.

The Well Armed Woman, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., seeks to educate and empower women about effective and responsible self-defense with firearms.

"I think that we found there was a need here in this area for women to have the opportunity to learn about safe handling of their firearms and how to become more confident — because in the end, they're their first protector," Harper said.

On Saturday, the Rocky Mount area chapter and all other chapters of The Well Armed Woman are going to wear purple and participate in #NotMeDay in a show of armed solidarity against would-be troublemakers and violent people.

The plan locally is for #NotMeDay to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eastern North Carolina Indoor Shooting Range at 141 N. Business Court.

"We've got special targets and each lady is going to take three shots: One for, ‘I am empowered,’ one for ‘I am prepared’ and one for ‘I will never be a victim’ or one for ‘I will never be a victim again," Harper said.

And Harper said "oh-yes" she is going to be firing shots.

Harper said the idea came from a rousing speech by Susan LaPierre encouraging women not to be victims. LaPierre is co-chairwoman of the National Rifle Association’s Women’s Leadership and the wife of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

The subject of women arming themselves is well-documented.

The Pew Research Center, in a June 2017 report of a survey, said about 62 percent of gun owners in the U.S. are men, while about 22 percent of women stated they own a gun.

The report noted male and female gun owners are about equally likely to cite protection as a reason they own guns, but the report noted a far larger percentage of women say protection is the only reason they own a gun.

Harper was asked whether local women feel a sense of a need to arm themselves or have protection at hand.

She said she and her fellow local chapter leaders find some women may be widows having to protect themselves for the first time and some women may be working in careers not necessarily the safest for them.

And she said she and fellow chapter leaders find some women have been victims of residential break-ins and some women may have been victims of domestic abuse.

She said the local chapter has slightly more than 30 members, with ages varying from approximately 19 to 70.

She noted the chapter has grown from having a single meeting each month at the Old Hickory Gun Club off Dalewood Drive to recently having a second meeting each month at the Eastern North Carolina Indoor Shooting Range.

Harper said she believes her skills are fairly good right now, but she was quick to note, "Your training never stops. I mean, if you take a break from your training, then of course you can get a little rusty.

"So it's something that you have to continue to do. It is a lifestyle — and continuing your training is really important," she said.

At the same time, she made clear she does not want to have to use her firearm.

"It's a tool of last resort," she said.

Carrie Lightfoot, who founded and leads The Well Armed Woman, said online she decided to establish a complete resource for women gun owners.

Lightfoot said that was because when she began thinking about purchasing and carrying a gun years ago, she found there was no single resource for women.

More specifically, Lightfoot said online she found a great divide between women’s interest in guns and the male-dominated "camo and ammo" firearms industry.

Presently, The Well Armed Woman is in 47 states, with 345 chapters and 10,989 members.

For more information, go to https://thewellarmedwoman.com/.

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