Gun Toting Moms and Girls with Guns

The right to bear firearms is not one of the causes I’ve ever been deeply passionate about, but an article in Marie Claire about an apparently growing trend among women to openly carry weapons caught my attention.

It’s hard to know how much of a trend it actually is, since the neither the article nor one of the main sources it draws on,, say how many women actually carry unconcealed weapons. (My brother tells me the fastest growing trend among women statistically is motorcycle riding.) I’ve noticed people carrying firearms openly twice – once last year in church when a gentleman with a handgun in a holster drew some dirty looks from the pastor, and once in a Texas Walmart, which was a little less jarring.

According to, “open carry” refers to the right of citizens to carry legally licensed, properly holstered handguns in public places. According to the article, firearms are fast becoming a “must have” accessory among women. Guns, like this one, are clearly marketed for females:

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Most of the women interviewed for Marie Claire claim they carry firearms for protection, and insist on carrying their weapons everywhere, including to the grocery store, browsing in Barnes and Nobles, in Starbucks, and even around the house. These women are not Sarah Palin types, shooting bears in their Alaskan backyards. They’re the women you meet at Whole Foods or Safeway, or maybe driving their kids to a play date or soccer practice. It could be me, taking my nephews to play mini golf or to swim lessons (though no one in my family would let me near their kids were I to carry a weapon, concealed or unconcealed.) The image of an otherwise ordinary mom having a gun straped to her hip in a typical suburban home strikes me as creepy.

Similarly, I’m not so sure I’d feel safe or sick with worry knowing my armed teenager was out with her friends, or even just walking the dog. Carrying a handgun requires a level of hyperawareness.

But the article raises interesting questions. It’s important for women to be able to defend themselves. I have no objection, for example, to carrying mace if I am out on a long run by myself. But are they  — we — so unsafe as to need a weapon at all times? This is not Mogadishu. And does this really increase safety? Does carrying a visible weapon deter would-be attackers? Or does it create an atmosphere of fear that somehow reinforce violence?

Finally, is this just the latest hip (pardon the pun) thing to do?


  • Irene Lagan

    Irene Lagan is the general manager of Guadalupe Radio in Washington, DC. She is a former collaborator for the English language section of Vatican Radio, has written for several publications, and holds a Masters degree in philosophy. She served as managing editor at the National Catholic Bioethics Center while in Boston, and has been published in Ethics & Medics, the National Catholic Register, Zenit, Franciscan Way, the Arlington Catholic Herald, and The Boston Globe. In addition, she has taught university students as an adjunct professor and has consulted in the area of communications and development for non-profit organizations.

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