Mother’s Day is when we stop to appreciate all that our moms have done to help us grow and understand the world around us. Sometimes that meant she would teach us to tie our shoelaces; other times she was instructing us how to drive a car. And some of our moms teach us how to fish, hunt and safely handle firearms. I want to introduce you to two such moms: Carrie Lightfoot, Founder of The Well Armed Woman, who is known for saying “If Dad shoots, Dad shoots…but if Mom shoots, the whole family shoots”; and Barbara Baird, founder of the Women’s Outdoor News and writer at The Accidental Ozarkian travel blog. Together these two moms also produce and co-host The Women’s Gun Show podcast, and they joined me for a few moments to talk about their lives and some of the issues that face moms in today’s world.
Cheryl Todd: Carrie and Barbara, thank you so much for spending some time talking to us about moms who shoot. Let’s start by learning a bit about each of you. Tell us about yourselves: When did you each come into the firearms industry, and were either of you raised around guns?
Carrie: I was in my late 40s before I became involved with firearms in any capacity. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, and guns were just not part of my world at all. It’s rather funny to me now, but I didn’t even allow toy guns in our house when my children were young. I don’t think I was anti-gun—I was just afraid of them, in my ignorance. The first toy gun that snuck its way into our home was in a Nintendo box with the game Duck Hunt!
After being a single mom for a number of years, and as my youngest of 4 children was preparing to head off to college, for the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable and alone. I had just started a new position with a nonprofit that worked with the homeless and those struggling with poverty, which took me to a very tough part of town. The combination of those things set me on the path to take responsibility for my personal protection. I began researching all the self-defense options available. I asked some friends to take me shooting and introduce me to the safe handling of a firearm…and to my surprise, I really enjoyed it and felt that I could be good at it. As I began to do research, there were no resources that answered the questions I had as a woman or that spoke to me respectfully. What I found was either oversexualized and insulting, or it was condescending and spoke to me like a child. I knew there was a need for resources that spoke respectfully to women, things that could help women navigate the world of firearms in an intelligent and comprehensive manner. There was also a void of holsters and products that fit the needs of women gun owners, so I dove in headfirst!
Barbara: Like Carrie, I was not raised around firearms. I am a freelance writer for outdoor and travel publications, and I publish Women’s Outdoor News (WON), now in its 8th year of bringing news, reviews and stories about outdoor women written by outdoor women. I married a former U.S. Air Force Academy pistol team member and hunter, so I learned how to shoot and hunt from him. We created a bit of a mini-fraternity when we had three sons, and I found that if I wanted to spend time with the boys, I needed to head to the range and go hunting in the woods. I quickly found that enjoyed the shooting and the opportunities to interact and bond with my family in ways that no other family activity provides. We also have a daughter, who is an outstanding shot. They all advocate for the Second Amendment, and two of the boys love hunting. Our daughter, who is an interior designer, creates our design work at The WON and runs our Instagram page.
Cheryl Todd: Carrie, you too have grown children now. Since they were not raised around firearms, do they now share your passion for Second Amendment issues?
Carrie: My children became introduced to guns when I did. As my passion grew, so too did my desire to educate them and introduce them to the joys of shooting and the importance of being prepared to protect themselves. I have always been cautious to not pressure my children into having to love what I love. So I provided the opportunity and allowed them to get comfortable with shooting. I wanted to allow them to find their own passions and then to support them 100 percent in whatever endeavors they poured themselves into. My children are all over-the-top excited and supportive of me and the work we do at The Well Armed Woman, and believe strongly in the right to own firearms for self-protection. In the early days, they would help me pack, label and ship products from my small apartment. In fact, I have recently hired one of my daughters as my assistant, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have her by my side as I strive to make The Well Armed Woman the absolute best resource for women. Both of my sons love to shoot and are preparing to begin life as concealed carriers, and they think it’s pretty cool that their mom is a “gun-toting mama.” I think it creates some interesting conversations with their friends and co-workers. My eldest daughter, although one of my greatest cheerleaders, does not shoot or own guns. And as an adult and young mother, I completely honor and respect her decisions.
Cheryl Todd: The world is an ever-changing, and quickly changing, place; how do you see the differences between how we grew up and the world that our grandchildren are growing up in? And in light of the recent presidential election, do you think we may have a renaissance of personal rights and responsibility?
Carrie: Boy, things have changed so much with each generation. I grew up in a very “white picket fence” world. I was totally insulated and oblivious to violence, crime and fear of bad things happening. I rode my bike anywhere I wanted, without a care or worry. I hung out at night with friends downtown without concern or thought of my need for protection. I am sure it was a combination of my buffered life in the suburbs, a kinder, gentler world, and perhaps even an ignorance or the head-in-the-sand mindset of my parents. Now, everything has changed—partly the world, and partly me. I, along with millions of other Americans, understand the naïveté of believing that “bad things don’t happen to good people” and abdicating our responsibility to a false sense that someone, or law enforcement, will be there to protect us. We have taken personal responsibility to be our own self-protectors. With the 24/7 news cycle, cell phones, and the Internet, there is no longer any such thing as an insulated and buffered life. As a parent, I understand the strong desire to insulate and protect our children and grandchildren from the realities of violence. After all, all I want is for them to flourish and enjoy every moment of life without a care in the world. Sadly, we don’t fulfill our duty of preparing them for life in the real world if we don’t provide them with the education, skills and abilities to be aware and prepared should trouble find its way into their lives. I do think the current President understands the importance of personal rights and responsibility and will create the environment for all Americans to live out their God-given right to protect themselves.
Barbara: Carrie and I are contemporaries, and I also grew up in a Small Town, USA, atmosphere, during a place and time when it was safe to walk to school all by myself, and my mom had the freedom of mind and sense of safety that allowed her to send me to the local store occasionally to buy a loaf of bread. Later, even when we moved to a large city, I rode my bicycle all over the place. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 17. I would never recommend that my children, nowadays, allow their children to do these things solo in today’s world. So yes, something is decidedly different, and seemingly terribly wrong, in our culture. When you cannot feel comfortable in allowing your children to be outdoors alone in your own yard … that’s a problem.
Cheryl Todd: What do each of you say to the “Moms Demand Action / Moms Against Guns” groups, who try to shame parents and restrict our rights?
Carrie: Nothing infuriates me more than women who espouse equality and “women’s rights” yet deliberately and hypocritically bind women to victimhood with the message that women aren’t capable, not strong enough, or are too emotional to protect themselves or others with a firearm. Women and children are the prey of most violent crime, and to want to render them defenseless is an unimaginable goal for other women to have. For a women’s organization to imply and communicate that gun-owning American women and mothers don’t care about children’s safety is highly inappropriate. It is, in fact, the complete opposite. Women and mothers who take the personal responsibility for the protection of themselves and their children do so with extreme soberness, and they do it thoughtfully. We research and train with the tools that offer the greatest chance of victory and survival. Groups like these, although very vocal and well-funded, who preach safety for children and yet ironically do not promote or support gun education or safety, are the ultimate hypocrisy. How can that be? Cleary, at the core, they are motivated by a political anti-gun agenda and wield the power over the highly emotional desire we all have to keep children from harm, and pull at the heartstrings that reside in all of us in order to achieve their goal. Being a responsible, educated parent with the best available tools to protect our children, and responsibly educating and training our children to be the same, is the best way to protect them from the ugliness of violence and crime and to offer them the fullest opportunity to live long and safe lives. Truly, this is the ultimate in parenting.
Barbara: When I hear these groups attempting to influence and confuse parents with their emotion-laced rhetoric, I challenge women to examine not only the message, but also the messenger. Ignorance is not bliss. The goal of these groups is to use you and me, if we allow them to, to further a politically based agenda. This agenda, when examined under the light of logic and reason, fades away as quickly as the emotions that these groups rely on to manipulate their followers. You and I are educated women, and we would serve our children and grandchildren well by checking out both sides of the gun debate before making our decisions. We welcome you also to seek out information and ask questions of people such as Carrie and me about why we do what we do, and what we believe in.
Cheryl Todd: You are both moms, but you have each dedicated your life’s work to teaching others to value the outdoors, conservation and hunting, and helping protect other people’s children with your educational and informational approach to business. Tell us about your organizations and how their creation was influenced by your personal experiences as a parent.
Carrie: The Well Armed Woman exists to educate, equip and empower women on any part of their journey toward becoming self-protectors. I know it sounds cliché, but knowledge is indeed power. The more we know, the better we become in any realm. With knowledge comes confidence; confidence as women, as partners and as parents. As I became educated, equipped, empowered and freed from fear, I became a better person and a better parent. Confidence partnered with personal responsibility allowed me to instill these powerful things in my children, encouraging them to live life to the fullest and to not be bound by self-doubt or fear of the unknown. As the owner and founder of The Well Armed Woman, I get to see women transform before my eyes as they grow in confidence and personal responsibility. I know from witnessing this, and from my own personal experience, that when these things occur, the way we live out our lives in all realms will be better with each new generation.
Barbara: Women’s Outdoor News, aka The WON, publishes stories and news reflecting empowerment from women who are living life outdoors to the fullest, and by sharing those times—along with tips—with others. We see more than a million impressions monthly at the website, and our demographics show that most of our readers are women between the ages of 25 and 44. These women want to be outdoors, yet they understand the importance of protecting themselves while vulnerable. On this point, I’m with Carrie, who believes in educating, equipping and empowering women in the use of firearms to be “self-protectors.”
Cheryl Todd: For those areas where we are disarmed, like schools, and for younger people who are not of age to own a firearm, what do you teach them?
Carrie: I strive to teach them that they are responsible for being aware—in every setting. Situational awareness is the greatest skill we can teach our children. The greatest survival tool is the knowledge to avoid or escape a potential threat. “What if” scenarios are some of the greatest educational exercises we can use to instill the mental preparedness necessary to truly live life to the fullest while staying safe.
Barbara: Awareness. Always be aware of your surroundings, and start planning escapes, how to fight, what to fight with and so forth. Know that you are a fighter. Believe that you can fight. Train to fight. You’re worth it.
Cheryl Todd: Thank you both for your time. We appreciate you sharing your stories, your experience, and your wisdom with us. As we wrap up, what is one thing you can tell a young woman who is out there reading this right now who may be teetering on the fence of deciding if, as a mom, she can also be a gun owner?
Carrie: To do the best job we can as parents, we must be willing to comprehensively educate ourselves. I believe that when making any decision, I must look at it from every side and investigate all the options. Even if at the beginning I have some preconceived notion about any of them, they are still options that must be considered. For years, I had a negative association with guns, but when I felt the need to take responsibility for my self-protection, I knew that to make the best and most informed decision for myself, I had to look at all available options. Naturally, a gun was one of those options. I objectively did my research and took the time to really understand what each option offered me, and went as far as having some friends take me shooting so I could see for myself if I could shoot a gun. I also had to walk through the necessary soul-searching, and ask myself if I could pull the trigger on another human being if I had to. I learned that the option I had previously feared and disliked the most was in actuality the best tool I could use if my life or the life of a loved one were at stake. So, my advice is have an open mind and to educate yourself on all your options. In the end, because you comprehensively educated yourself, the only outcome possible will be that you make a thorough and right decision for what is right for you.
Barbara: Carrie’s thoughts are absolutely in line with mine on this. She has taught hundreds of women, not just the mechanics of how to operate a tool of defense, like a firearm, but the legalities and the emotional elements of using self-defense. It is good to think about something as important as whether you can take a life in order to save a life (yours, your family’s lives, or your friends’). There are many organizations that teach firearms instruction, and that are designed to help you as you discover whether being a self-protector with a firearm is the method that is right for you. Because of Carrie’s well-trained instructors —females, who are experts at teaching other females, and who understand the ideas we have been discussing today—I highly recommend checking out The Well Armed Woman and its many local chapters throughout the U.S.
Cheryl Todd: Thank you, Carrie and Barbara, for all your time, insights, and wisdom. And … HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
For more information on awesome moms Carrie Lightfoot of The Well Armed Woman and Barbara Baird of the Women’s Outdoor News, or to listen to their weekly podcast, The Woman’s Gun Show, follow these links.
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