Grace McKee is a firearms instructor as West Coast Armory in Bellevue. “People come in, they’re worried if I touch it will it go off or which end of the gun do I hold? It’s not instinctive. Nothing about shooting or handling firing arms is instinctive,” Mckee says. Her passion is teaching women about guns. “A lot of women have been victimized or have the potential to be victimized and personally I would like to see that not happen. I would like to see women stand up for themselves, protect themselves and hopefully through training, they can gain the confidence and skills necessary to do that” she explains.
A recent report from the CDC shows that crime victims who actively used a gun to defend themselves had lower rates of injury than crime victims who did not use guns to defend themselves, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should be armed. Kelly Starr is with Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and says, “What we know is that it’s especially dangerous, when there’s a domestic violence situation, and when there’s a gun around.” Starr adds that potential danger is higher for potential victims if there is a gun in the home saying, “We know that DV victims are five times more likely to be killed if there’s a gun around and it really increases the lethality risk.”
Part of the reason why is because federal and state law don’t always agree. For instance, federal law states that anyone convicted of a domestic violence charge cannot legally purchase a gun. But in Washington state, someone who has a no-contact or protection order is only guilty of a gross misdemeanor. There are some exceptions, but that frustrates domestic violence advocates. “When there’s a gap in those laws, you see how that actually plays out is that the federal laws aren’t enforced on a local level,” Starr says.
“I can say the best self-defense for women is a planned offense. Have a plan. If you know that’s potentially a situation that you’re in, know how to avoid the situation,” explains Stephanie Kerns, co-owner of Insights Training Center, a company that specializes in self-defense and firearms education. She says that proper training can be essential in situations where self-defense is needed, but it’s up to the individual on how they plan to stay safe. Kerns explains, “There’s many tools that you can use along with a gun, but that will be the last one. There’s so many other tools that we all should have in our toolbox to be able to defend ourselves, but a plan of action is the most important.”
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