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Armed and Female

There's nothing intrinsically masculine about guns — just look at Fort Hood's Sgt. Kimberly Munley.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

November 7, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Some years ago, my wife and I were living in California. We managed to persuade our police chief to issue concealed weapon permits after a robbery attempt. (If you live in California and have ever applied for such a permit, this should give you some idea of how persuasive we can be.) We went through the class taught at the police academy. While most of our class consisted of civilians, at least one of the students was a police officer in training who ended up in our class because of a motor vehicle accident. By the time we had completed our training, my wife and I had both dramatically improved our marksmanship (along with learning the laws concerning use of deadly force).

A few weeks later, we were visiting some friends in central Nevada. John was a military police officer at the Naval Air Station in Fallon. He was a nice guy, but he had a rather traditional view of women. We went out into the desert, and after doing some 500-meter rifle shooting, we set up targets for handguns. John, not surprisingly, thought rather highly of his marksmanship skills with the Colt Government Model .45 (still the U.S. military standard at the time). He shot a pretty decent group at 10 meters — all seven rounds in a circle about two inches across. My wife picked up the same gun, and when she was done, there was one large ragged hole. You could see John’s entire view of women catching fire and going up in smoke.

I’m not sure that there’s still a need for “ladies-only gun camps.” Increasingly, a generation of young women is growing up in homes that encourage girls to learn to shoot. When my daughter and son both reached about eight years of age, my wife and I took each of them out to the range. We did this to show them the fearsome and destructive power of firearms. We also did so to take away the inevitable mystery associated with a tool that features so prominently in our entertainment media. A few years later, I took my daughter to submachine gun at Front Sight.

Guns aren’t a major part of the lives of either of our children, but they know how to safely handle guns and to shoot — sometimes leading to some very amusing consequences. When my daughter was away at the University of Idaho, the young man who is now her husband proposed going shooting on a date. Let’s just say that he was more than a bit startled at what a crack shot she was!

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Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.
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