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Monday, August 20, 2012

A Woman's View On Guns and Protection

By: Brandy Vega
V.P. of Media and Communications, OPSGEAR Inc.

Brandy Vega, V.P. of Media and Communications
I often get asked tactical questions regarding women using guns, knives and pepper spray, as well as self-defense and concealment questions simply because I'm a woman who believes in, carries and uses these tools. Does that make me an expert? Absolutely not! I'm still learning - constantly seeking knowledge, training and growing!

I believe in the right to protect yourself! That starts by understanding the world around you and adopting the color code of mental awareness introduced by Col. Cooper. (Learn about the color code here: http://www.freetacticaltips.com/2010/09/combat-mindset.html) If you live in yellow, you are generally able to avoid problems. However, that's not always the case. And in worst case scenarios you must be able to protect yourself. For that purpose, in 2009, I got my concealed carry permit. In 2010, I bought my personal handgun and began training to use it. I have pretty much always been vigilant. My cousin Mandy Lund was the victim of an attempted sexual assault and was murdered by her own gun at 19 years old. After that horrific experience, I had a fear of buying a gun for protection. However, as the years progressed I decided it would be a good choice for me and I was finally ready thanks to the training I'd received.

My first gun was a Glock 19 and it's the one I carry 99% of the time. I would not carry a gun if I wasn't prepared to use it. "Prepared" is a complex term. When I say that I don't mean simply that I am willing to shoot someone. I mean that I have the knowledge, skills, mindset and training to use that weapon properly should the need arise. I acquired that first through my military experience where I got basic weapons training in 1996 at the age of 18. Additionally, I attended the conceal carry class, defensive handgun class and NRA training. I supplemented that by shooting with others who had a lot of experience, asking lots of questions, studying and watching training videos. People learn by seeing, hearing and doing. In order to be a responsible gun owner you must do all three of those!

I get asked by women all the time what gun they should get. Simple - the one you like the most, feel comfortable with and know how to use. It's mostly personal preference. Do you want to carry it with you all the time or keep it at home or in a car? Do you have children? What safety issues do you need to focus on? I choose a to carry a Glock 19, uncharged but with a loaded 15 round magazine and 2 more 15 round magazines in my purse. I very rarely carry concealed on my body. In the event that I do, I use an inside the waist holster or tuck it in the front of my pants. If I go hiking I either carry it inside the waist or in a bag.

There are times and occasions when I don't carry a gun or it's prohibited. In those instances I bring a stun gun. This is a great less-than-lethal option and it's compact and affordable. Many people know in their hearts they couldn't shoot someone or they simply have a fear of guns. For those people, carrying a stun gun is a great option. This is the one I carry: http://www.opsgear.com/index/page/product/product_id/4443/.

I got my first key chain pepper spray at the age of 17 and have always carried it on my key chain. This is also a great non-lethal self defense option. For many years I worked as a television reporter and I always kept the pepper spray or mace within arm's reach as well as a cell phone. I wish I would have had the pepper spray with me when I was 16 and was attacked and assaulted in a parking lot by a coworker I trusted while walking to my car. This would have bought me time to get away from my attacker. At a bare minimum I would encourage all women to carry pepper spray. I currently use Saber (http://www.opsgear.com/index/page/product/product_id/3114/).

In 2010, after learning about a string of rapes and assaults on women in Utah, I got some self defense training from David Burnell at OPSGEAR®. We did a lot of seminars teaching women how to protect themselves with some basic tactics. We even put that on DVD (http://www.opsgear.com/index/page/product/product_id/3026/). For me learning how to get out of a choke, grab or mount was critical. I now feel a bit empowered by the knowledge that, if I find myself in a bad situation again, my odds of survival have gone way up. OPSGEAR® produced a series of Defensive Tactics DVDS (http://www.opsgear.com/index/page/product/product_id/4115/) that could literally save your life as well as a website that offers free tips for men and women (http://www.freetacticaltips.com). Again, you must remember you have to see, hear and do them. It's human nature to fight, flight or freeze in a stressful or scary situation. If you don't practice or you aren't prepared, you won't be able to do or perhaps even remember what to do. So, practice, practice, practice. 

In conclusion, I would say the most important thing a woman or anyone can use to protect themselves is their brain! Look around, be aware, avoid danger, listen to your heart or go with your gut. If something doesn't feel right, get away. Stay alert and vigilant, make good choices, have a plan and be prepared to act if needed! If you do that, you will avoid most situations. However, for the ones you can't avoid, decide what you are willing to do and how you are willing to do that. Is a gun right for you or pepper spray? Bad guys look for victims. Women who aren't aware of their surroundings, who are distracted, unprepared, not willing to make eye contact are simply easy targets. Don't be a victim! Get the tools and training you need to avoid or survive a potentially deadly encounter.