Armed Lady is Kicking Butt and Taking Aim!

So, in my last post I talked a little bit about how I had left The Well Armed Woman in favor of a better alternative, Armed Lady. It’s already proven to be the best move I could have made. I’m staying incredibly busy but I’m greatly enjoying it and a sense of accomplishment is something I think we all like to feel.

I want to tell you a little bit about Armed Lady. It is required that all chapter leaders to be NRA Certified Instructors. This is a safety and proficiency issue. I just can’t see how it is safe for someone who’s just picked up a gun in the last month or two to take on a leadership role in teaching other women about firearms. The firearms industry is already so under fire from so many directions that we must make safety and responsibility a priority, so as to not give our opponents any reality in which to base their fears. While that may make it a little more difficult to find good leaders, that’s okay. Personally, I value quality over quantity and I know that Armed Lady, LLC does as well, which is one reason founder Stephanie Dodson-Turner requires NRA certification of all chapter leaders of her Premier Shooting Chapters.

In my short time so far with Armed Lady, I have found things to be organized and structured. Even though the organization is still in its early stages, I value that there has not been the chaos as I have experienced in other organizations. I appreciate not feeling as though I am flying by the seat of my pants with no structure. It became clear to me very quickly that Stephanie’s priorities are straight and her intentions are true and this shows. That is also evident in way that she has been very receptive to suggestions and feedback. One of the signs of a strong leader is being able to listen to others.

I feel comfortable that I need not worry about the ethics and morals of the founder of Armed Lady. I greatly value integrity and when I support any organization, it is important to me that I feel whoever is spearheading such organization be of good character.

I say all of this to convey to you that not only am I comfortable supporting Armed Lady, LLC but I also feel comfortable encouraging other women to join and support Armed Lady, either as a member of one of our Premier Shooting Chapters or as a Chapter Leader.

If you are looking for an encouraging, supportive and organized environment for women shooters, I highly recommend that you investigate Armed Lady. You may visit the website or you may also feel free to email me at e.finch@armedlady.com for more information.

 

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*I am receiving nothing for this endorsement except for the satisfaction of supporting an organization which supports a cause in which I believe. It should be very clear to all my readers at this point that I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment (with no buts) and I strongly support women having a place and a voice among its defense.

 

This Girl is on FIRE!

This Girl is on FIRE!

I have been tremendously busy lately. And all fired up. There have been many changes in the last couple of weeks. The first being I have discontinued my association with a certain purple-themed women’s shooting organization. Long story short, my time with them showed me that the organization’s founder was not someone I was comfortable being affiliated with for numerous reasons. That being the case, I also could not, in good conscience, encourage anyone else to be a part of her organization. I had determined I would be leaving back in December and such decision was consistently reinforced from that time until I left on April 17th.

I spent the last few months biding my time, trying to figure out a solution or find an alternative. Disbanding my chapter was not an option for me, as I had made a commitment to my ladies. This was a group which I built all on my own and I’d worked hard to develop it. I spent a lot of time and my personal money and throwing it away wasn’t a consideration for me.

God provides. I finally discovered a wonderful alternative. I had to sniff it out and hunt it down like a dog but I found it. I’ll share more about that later when the time is right. It’s a brand new organization and we’re working hard to get everything rolling. What I love about it is that it’s being built with integrity and a greater purpose. I’m so happy to be a part of it and I’ll be sharing more soon. But suffice to say, I have been working my tail off, happily.

Another wonderful thing that has happened is that HB 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act, was signed last week! I was invited to the signing but prior commitments kept me from going. It would have been fun to be there but the important thing is that come July 1, Georgia will be a much safer place to live.

And, speaking of a safer Georgia, I’ve been sitting on some other information for months that can finally be shared. Another bill, HB 826, was signed into law yesterday. While on the surface this bill makes great strides to remove the silly “zero-tolerance” policies in schools which have ended up in expulsion for kids with items such as seat belt cutters in their car on school campus, it does far more than most understand. This bill also decriminalizes campus carry.

Yes, you read correctly. Come July 1, campus carry will now be decriminalized for those with a valid Georgia Weapons License. Understand that it’s been kept quiet for obvious reasons but also please know that nothing was hidden. The bill has always been available for anyone’s survey and study as all bills are. Nothing was hidden or snuck in at the 11th hour. It passed the House unanimously and the Senate with all but two votes in the affirmative. I and others who were familiar with this bill have been encouraged to remain quiet about it though, as any extra attention to it could have derailed the bill in its entirety.

While the language is a bit confusing, I encourage you to read it. I would also encourage common sense and good judgment come July 1. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should and we should all strive to be responsible citizens and balance rights with responsibility. Walking onto a college campus open carrying on July 1 isn’t something I would advise and would outright discourage. The two laws, HB 60 and HB 826 will need to be merged when writing the new code sections and there will inevitably be test cases to establish case law, so be smart here, I plead of you.

Here is the link to the full text of the bill.  

And the Votes Are In

The Georgia Senate finally pulled out HB 60 (the new HB 875) for a vote. Those guys are some tricky bastards. They put in an amendment for hunting suppressors, knowing the House will hate that because they are beholden to the Department of Natural Resources and the DNR hates it. Because, you know, poaching is apparently a massive and widespread problem in Georgia. Hmmm.

A second amendment that was added was church opt-in. This one was a “blink and miss it” one that was snuck it by perhaps the quickest “voice vote” in Georgia history. Cagle wanted it that way. This way, it’s nearly impossible to know who voted for it and he can take the heat for it. He doesn’t care, he has no challenger in this election.

The problem with church opt-in is that it’s a pile of crap. Very few churches will make the move to opt-in, preferring to avoid the topic altogether. The Senate knows this, so they think they can pat us on the head and send us on our merry way and then, proud of their “sweeping” gun bill and their “stand for the Second Amendment” in an election year, they will fail to re-address any gun rights for years. Um, no. You see, I already bought a bunch of crap from the legislature LAST session when SB101 died and I’m not in the market for any more.

It seems most likely that HB60 will end up in Conference Committee now, with three senators and three representatives left to make a deal for both chambers to pass through. This is a risk to be sure, as it could very well die in committee but I’m willing to take that risk, as if it does die, then there’s no gun bill this year. People may get voted out. And then we can come back at it next year. Not exactly what I’d like, but I’d prefer it to having a bad bill shoved down my throat with no likely opportunity to come back to it for a long time. And, if we have to re-address it next year, the hope is that we have a new governor (David Pennington, please!) who doesn’t do his damnedest to kill gun bills behind the scenes and some fresh folks in the legislature.

I’m hoping that in conference committee that the house gives on the hunting suppressor language and the senate gives up church opt-in. That would actually be a win-win for the people of Georgia. Most states already allow suppressors for hunting and most states also respect the private property rights of churches. Georgia needs to get with it.

Mrs. Finch Goes to Atlanta (Redux)

It’s been quite a day. I headed back down to the Capitol to again speak in favor of HB 875, this time to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The hearing turned out to be a dog and pony show since by the time the hearing commenced most of the language in HB 875 was tacked on to HB 60, another gun bill which had already passed both chambers and had passed the House as amended and was on its way to the Senate floor.

You see, as explained and predicted in this Peach Pundit Article, it looks like Jesse Stone is scratching Nathan Deal’s back in order to get that judgeship that he previously denied was on the table. He was so convinced he was about to screw us all with his crappy little substitute bill. Until Alan Powell made an end run around him and refused to let him pull a fast one by cutting him off at the knees. So, now the hot gun bill in GA is now HB 60 and it includes everything HB 875 had except for the $100 civil fine for carrying onto a college campus. We’ll see how it fares on the Senate floor, whether it passes clean or ends up in conference committee. Either way, I’m pleased that Rep. Powell didn’t allow Stone to get away with doing Governor Deal’s dirty work.

If it passes, then we’ll find out if Deal will keep his commitment to sign any pro-gun legislation which crosses his desk or if he’ll just outright renege.

The Committee Hearing was still held, though. It was rather pointless, but it served as a great distraction for the psycho mommies of Moms Demand Action. They were pretty clueless about today’s happenings until long after the fact. And I still testified. I’d worked on my testimony and was pleased with it and I was hopeful that even if one anti there was open to listening that maybe it could make a difference. Although I had to condense it to three minutes due to time constraints imposed, here it is in its full version:

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee Members,

I come before you today first and foremost as a citizen. I am also an NRA certified instructor, leader of a 50 member women’s shooting chapter and a supporter of the right and responsibility to defend oneself. As a woman, I am also part of the fastest growing demographic of gun owners.

I have read this bill in its entirety and you would be right to assume that I am strongly in favor of it. But please do not employ what you know of me thus far to form an opinion regarding the basis for my support. While most consider it a “gun bill,” I’d like to offer another perspective. It’s about much more than guns. It’s about private property and civil rights.

As someone who is active in my church as a Stephen Minister, Sunday School teacher and choir member, I often find myself walking back to my car located in one of the parking lots scattered about downtown Marietta in the dark. Current law prevents me from legally being able to defend myself properly in this situation should the need arise, regardless of my church’s position on the matter. Churches are private property and should be treated as such. No government should be able to grant certain private property rights to one private entity yet deny the same to another. It astounds me that any church official would be against HB 875. Do they not want to make their own choices? If that is the case, then perhaps the state should also mandate what Bible they must use and what sacraments they may perform and how much in tithes they may accept from each member and where they must be directed. I think we all know they would be livid if we were up here debating taking such choices from them. I’ve heard proponents make the argument that HB 875 places a mandate on churches. This fallacy is ignorant at best. HB 875 places absolutely no requirement on any church whatsoever. It simply returns to them the power to make their own choice. This bill empowers them to choose what is right and proper for THEIR congregation. And I can’t speak for anyone else but when I saw church officials standing before the House Committee decrying this bill, I felt a little less respect for them. You see, I am a member of PC(USA) and my church has about 2500 members. I have never been asked to cast a vote on where I stand on HB 875, nor have my fellow church members. So I was quite disappointed to see Rev. Gary Charles of PC(USA) speaking on my behalf because he does not speak for me. He does not speak for anyone in my church. Churches are private property. If church government wishes to make the decision to be a gun-free zone, church government should be responsible for that decision and not be allowed to pass the buck to the government any longer.

Likewise, bars are private property and should also enjoy equal treatment under the law. Granted, I agree that it’s highly irresponsible to mix guns with alcohol but why should I be presumed to be an irresponsible person incapable of possessing my firearm and good judgment simply because I walk into a bar? It’s legal to carry a firearm into any Longhorn restaurant and a person can drink just as much alcohol there as they can at any bar. Seeing as the ability to legally carry into restaurants which serve alcohol has not created mass violations, actually none that I’ve heard, of OCGA 16-11-134 which prohibits the discharge of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs under most circumstances, there is no basis to conclude that allowing legal carry of firearms in bars would create such incidents.

Shifting focus to civil rights, I would like to begin by pointing out that victims are not allowed the opportunity to know when or where they may be victimized. Being one of millions of women who have been victimized at some point in their lives, I’ve had the unfortunate need to defend my life and safety. In 1999 I found myself being chased by my ex-husband through my front yard with an ASP baton like many police carry. There was no help in sight and no one to depend upon to save me but myself. I felt with a complete absence of doubt that my life was in jeopardy at that moment. Thinking quickly, I drew my carry gun at that time from my purse and ordered him to not take another step toward me. That day, I was able to defend myself and deter him from the harm he intended to inflict upon me without firing a single shot. Had I not been properly equipped, I feel very confident in saying that I would not be alive today. I recount this event before you to point out that had I lived in public housing rather than my own private residence at that time, I would have been denied by law the opportunity to defend myself. That is fundamentally wrong. Rights cannot be bought and cannot be denied based upon someone’s socio-economic status. As a private property owner, I have that right to defend myself in my own home. Why should anyone in public housing not enjoy that same right? My life is no more precious than theirs and I am no more worthy of the right to defend myself than are they. We are all equal in God’s eyes and we should all have the legal ability to enjoy the same rights which are endowed to us by our Creator and our Constitution. This is an issue close to my heart. I recently was challenged by someone opposed to HB 875 and was actually asked why, as a “middle class white woman,” did I care about residents in public housing? In addition to finding such a question wholly offensive simply on principle, the fact is my mother grew up in public housing. Public housing residents are not second class citizens. My mother is not a second class citizen. She has experienced both poverty and wealth, neither of which had any effect on the value of her life. I would not want my mother or anyone’s mother to be denied the right to defend themselves because they cannot afford private housing.

In this heated debate over HB875, I’ve seen a great deal of input from other states and I have to ask myself why we have allowed one moment of it. I feel certain that if I were to walk over to my neighbor’s home and proceed to tell him how to run his household I would quickly be asked to leave and mind my own business. Tell New York, Arizona and other states who wish to control what happens in Georgia to mind their own business.

I urge you to represent the interests of Georgia citizens, not out-of-state special interest groups.

I urge you to listen to the voices of your constituents rather than the voices of a few who have no respect for liberty, choice or my right to defend myself.

I urge you to put a stop to the unfair treatment under the law created by our current restrictions

I urge you to serve at the will of your constituents, not at the will of those who may promise political favor in return for serving their personal interests.

I urge you to uphold the Constitutions of The United States and Georgia as you are sworn to do.

And finally, I urge you to recognize that current and further restrictions upon where carry is permitted by law is, at its core, rooted in distrust of the lawful citizenry and, as such, is not in accordance with a free society rooted in liberty.

I implore you to support and favor this bill as-is.

 

My 15 Minutes

Being a women’s shooting chapter leader, I have found myself in the midst of an incredibly huge and very public movement. Fellow leaders have been subjects of newspaper articles, TV news segments, documentaries, etc. I’ve always avoided any publicity though, preferring to work under the radar. I never sent out a press release for my chapter, never invited any media and never allowed myself to be around any of it. I didn’t really have any deep objection to it but I’ve had some personal circumstances and plans in the works in which I felt it best that any publicity of a controversial nature be avoided. And 2A rights are certainly controversial these days. I think we all know I’m not shy and I don’t mind public speaking when I have my thoughts organized. I don’t mind people in general knowing how I volunteer much of my time. I was just never comfortable with the idea of real publicity.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You plan and God laughs?” That’s been my experience lately. I was contacted a few weeks ago completely out of the blue by a reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal asking for a quote. The story was supposed to be about a recent attempt of the “knock-out” game. Keeping in mind my “no publicity” stance, I initially wasn’t going to respond. Then I thought, what’s the harm. It’s one quote in a small paper. Small stuff and it would be there and gone, quickly. So, I offered my quote.

And from there, it grew. The reporter then came back and asked me for a photo of myself or of my group. I sent her a photo of my group on the line at the shooting range, from behind. I’m careful to protect the privacy of my ladies. Her editor wanted something different. So they asked me to meet for some photos to be taken. And the reporter couldn’t verify the “knock out” game attempt. So, she asked me more questions. And it just got away from me. Next thing I knew, I was on the front page of the Marietta Daily Journal with an entire article about me. I didn’t even know it was on the front page until a few people in one of my church groups mentioned it. I had not even gotten a copy of the paper.

I was a little mortified. It was way more than I was expecting. I wasn’t mad with the reporter. While she was not quite educated on 2A and gun matters, she wasn’t unfriendly toward them and nothing occurred to which I had objected. Maybe I was a little naive with regards to my expectations but that’s on me. So, I chalked it up to a cool article which would hopefully die down quickly.

But, you see, I have this thing about being opinionated. And being vocal. Which would soon put me on the local news. My House Committee testimony on HB 875 earned me a spot on the evening 11Alive newscast:

I had no idea about this either until a friend messaged me and asked me for my autograph. I guess I should have expected it was a possibility but it just really didn’t occur to me that I would garner any attention other than from those present at the hearing. I was also quoted in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Three news outlets in less than two weeks. I could hardly believe it. And the first article had nothing to do with the other two appearances. The last two happened to be two news outlets in the same room covering the same story and they both somehow chose to include me.

Craziness.

Of course, in this age of social media and given that HB 875 is a hot potato topic right now, coverage spread. I ended up on others’ personal blogs, Facebook pages, forums, etc. I’ve been recognized by a couple of people I don’t know…someone I bought a vehicle from and a store cashier. Nothing major, but it still felt strange. I don’t know how famous people keep their sanity. Oh, that’s right…they don’t. Nevermind.

I spent some time a little freaked out over the whole thing. I had no reservations whatsoever over my efforts in helping HB 875. It was just that whole media thing.

So when a local FOX reporter most recently contacted me wanting to do a story on me, I declined. I actually tried to pass it on to a fellow chapter leader and friend but she specifically wanted me. Still, I declined. I was overwhelmed and freaking out a little and concerned with how all this publicity may affect my aforementioned personal circumstances.

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My husband helped me realize that I need to do what’s important to me and embrace opportunities which help further the causes which are important to me. As far as the publicity and my personal circumstances go, it will be what it will be. Some people will love it and others will hate it and I cannot control that. I can’t worry about it too much. I especially can’t worry too much over something which may or may not even happen regardless of whether I find myself in the public eye over controversial issues such as the Second Amendment and civil rights.

So, I’m choosing to embrace it. I’m not going to be soliciting any media attention (I’m not embracing it THAT much) but I’m not going to work so hard to actively avoid it. Que sera, sera. I will do my thing and be myself and anyone who cannot accept that can just move along. I’ve been concerned with the possibility of not being acceptable as a result of the things which are important to me when I should be more concerned that if someone cannot accept me without judgement of the things which matter to me, then perhaps they are not acceptable to me.

Mrs. Finch Goes to Atlanta

So, I’m involved in an organization called GeorgiaCarry.Org (GCO). The organization exists to protect and restore 2A rights in our home state. It’s a fantastic organization and truly centered on its mission. It’s not a fundraising organization like some others out there which I will not name. Everyone at GCO is a volunteer. No one draws a paycheck and that applies from the Board of Directors down. GCO has been instrumental and crucial in the passage of all the positive gun bills since its inception. And their members are what makes the organization what it is. GCO members are people of action, not just words.

Yesterday HB 875 passed the House Committee of Public Safety and Homeland Security. This is the best gun bill Georgia has seen in years. The most important highlights of this bill is that it restores private property rights to churches and bars and affords tenants in public housing the opportunity to be legally equipped to defend themselves. The bill contains numerous other benefits as well. The Safe Carry Protection Act is a big step forward in restoring liberty and trust in the general citizenry.

I was honored with the opportunity to speak in favor of this bill yesterday. Those who know me well are aware of my dad’s history and involvement in GA politics. My level of involvement thus far, however, has only been to make myself as knowledgeable as possible and to vote in every election possible. But yesterday, I finally understood why Dad enjoyed the process so much. It’s history being made. It’s being able to actually be a part of the legislative process and not only have a say at the ballot box but to be a part of shaping the laws which are made by those put into office at the ballot box. It’s really a fascinating process up close. And it felt great to be there as it passed the committee.

I was approached and thanked by several reps, thanking me for my words and for being there. Darlene Taylor expressed her pleasure at my being there. She’s in favor of this bill and she’s the only woman on the committee who is, so I feel like she was particularly appreciative to have additional female support represented. I think that they appreciate regular citizens coming out and voicing their opinions rather than listening to lobbyists all the time or getting form letters or nasty comments and threats from their constituents. I know that we often sit at home and watch and read the news in disgust and complain about our  lawmakers but speaking in front of them, in person, is a productive way to be more involved. I think also, being a woman, that my voice and the voices of other women who were there in favor of this bill, goes a long way with them. It allows them to personally hear how bills can help or harm the citizenry at large.

I had a fantastic experience yesterday and I hope to be able to stand before the State Senate soon and share my voice before them as well as HB 875 moves forward.

Here is the statement which I prepared and delivered yesterday:

“Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee,

I come before you today first and foremost as a woman. I am also an NRA certified instructor, leader of a 40 member women’s shooting chapter and a supporter of the right and responsibility to defend oneself.

I have read this bill in its entirety. This is the best bill concerning gun and private property rights put forth in years and I am strongly in favor of it. As someone who is very active in my church as a Stephen Minister, Sunday School teacher and choir member, I often find myself there in the evenings and, often walking back to my car located in one of the handful of parking lots scattered about in downtown Marietta, in the dark. Current law prevents me from legally being able to defend myself properly in this situation should the need arise. I take great issue with this for two reasons: One, churches are private property and should be treated as such. No government should be able to grant certain private property rights to one private entity yet deny the same to another. Secondly, it is my responsibility and, ultimately, mine alone to protect myself. Our police are a wonderful resource but criminals are not generally known to wait for the police to arrive before committing heinous and unlawful acts. For most victims, the police are there in time for the crime to be reported but not there in time to prevent it from being committed. I shouldn’t be denied by law the right to equip myself for my own proactive protection whether it’s at the grocery store, my home or a place of worship. 

Victims are not allowed the opportunity to know when or where they may be victimized. Being one of millions of women who have been victimized at some point in their lives, I’ve had the unfortunate need to defend my life and safety. In 1999 I found myself being chased by my ex-husband with an ASP baton like many police carry. There was no help in sight and no one to depend upon to save me but myself. I felt 100% certain that my life was in jeopardy at that moment. Thinking quickly, I drew my carry gun at that time from my purse and ordered him to not take another step toward me. That day, I was able to defend myself and deter him from the harm he intended to inflict upon me without firing a single shot. Had I not been properly equipped, I feel very confident in saying that I would not be alive today. 

As a woman, it’s important to me to feel safe, secure and equipped with the ability to defend myself. As a citizen and 2nd Amendment supporter, freedom, liberty and rights are dear to my heart. The more limitations there are on where I am permitted to be lawfully armed, the less safe, secure and equipped I am and the more my liberty and rights are infringed upon. As a believer in liberty and The Constitution, I’d like to further point out that current and further restrictions upon where carry is permitted by law is, at its core, rooted in distrust of the lawful citizenry and, as such, is not in accordance with a free society rooted in liberty.

I implore you, as both a woman and citizen, to support and favor this bill. 

Thank you for your consideration.”

But You Can Call Me 10 Gunz

As I’ve mentioned before, I lead a women’s shooting chapter. It’s part of The Well Armed Woman and GA Firing Line is our host range. Last night was our 4th meeting and I’m having loads of fun leading these women. We have about 40 members in my chapter and nationwide, there are about 3,000 members in just 10 months and growing.

Women are the fastest growing group of gun owners and I think that is fantastic. We need to be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Many women, though, even those who want to carry, have trouble finding carry methods which fit their lifestyle.

Last night, our topic was all about holsters. There are a myriad of different carry methods for women. It IS possible to carry without buying a whole new wardrobe or being relegated to purse carry. I’m not knocking purse carry (much) and I do occasionally purse carry but I see it as a last resort. And by all means, if you refuse to carry any other way, then I am all about purse carry for you. Carrying in a purse is far better than not carrying at all. And I would prefer you carry.

While preparing for this month’s meeting, I wanted to make it informative but fun also. I had a nice sample of holsters from The Well Armed Woman for them to have a look-see but I wanted to do something more than just a simple display.

So, I went about securing as many guns as I possibly could onto my body. I had to dress a big baggy, since I was determined that the more guns I had on, the more fun it would be. I fit 10 guns on me. I probably could’ve gotten a few more on but for various reasons (my husband being off on a guys shooting weekend and not having all of our pistols here, not having appropriate holsters for borrowing rental guns from the range to place on me in free spaces, etc), the total ended up at ten.

I had the women take guesses on how many and the highest first guess before I began the big reveal was 8. I felt like it was a really fun, informative and interactive meeting and the feedback that I received was all very positive. I’ve got a great group of women and I’m proud to lead them into the world of shooting for both self-defense and fun.

I recorded the whole reveal portion and have put the videos on YouTube. Normally, I’m not big on being in front of the camera but I had so much fun with this and was looking forward to it so much that I felt it might be a good idea to capture it.

Upon my return home last night and revealing on Facebook how many I had been able to conceal, my nephew decided that my rapper alias should be 10 Gunz. For all that white girl rapping that I do! It seems that others are following suit and I’m being addressed as 10 Gunz now. I think it’s pretty funny. At least it makes for a good story. And who messes with a girl who has 10 guns on her?

 

 

Whole Foods / Harry’s Jumps on the “Gun-Free Zone” Bandwagon

Among other things, I run a local women’s shooting chapter. We are part of The Well Armed Woman nationally and it’s a movement which has exploded since its inception in January, just eight short months ago.

Last night, one of my members informed me of an incident at our local Harry’s Farmer’s Market, which is owned by Whole Foods. She is a legal Georgia Weapons Carry License holder. She was carrying concealed but when she went to reach a high shelf, her top rode up, exposing her firearm. Now, carrying with a permit in GA allows for both open and conceal carry, so she was perfectly legal either way. Yet, she was asked to leave because the store manager informed her it was against store policy, which was recently instituted regionally.

She left, as not doing so could have earned her a criminal trespassing charge. She will not be patronizing their store anymore, either. She doesn’t wish to give her money to a place who wishes to disarm her, thereby making her even easier prey for a would-be attacker.

When she informed me of her experience, I immediately began sharing her story with peers. It has garnered a nice bit of attention on their local Facebook page and I’ve gotten offers of possible media attention for the matter. Currently, I am waiting to see if  CEO John Mackey, or his Co-CEO or VP of Public Affairs will respond to the letter which was waiting for them in their inbox this morning:

Mr. Mackey,

My name is Elizabeth Finch. I have been a long time customer of Harry’s and Whole Foods, but will no longer patronize these establishments, as it has come to my attention that these stores are not locations where women such as myself can feel safe. 

I am writing to you to inform you of an incident which took place in the Harry’s of Marietta, GA this evening. A woman who is legally permitted to carry a firearm in the state of GA (as well as numerous other states) was asked to leave.She was carrying concealed but when she went to reach up on a high shelf, her tank top exposed her sidearm and she was asked to leave, a request with which she complied.

In GA, with a permit, it is legal to carry either concealed or in open fashion. She was told by the store manager that the prohibition of firearms was a regional policy implemented about three weeks ago. Her attention was called to a sign at the bottom of one of the doors that firearms were prohibited in Harry’s. Now, such signs have no force of law here in GA but she has determined that she will not be supporting a business who does not respect local laws and rights. I am in agreement with her and I have also shared her experience with numerous others who are also in agreement. 

There has been much displeasure expressed over this incident on Harry’s Marietta Facebook page. Gun permit holders comprise 11% of the population in GA. Women are the fastest growing demographic among gun owners. I can speak to this personally and professionally, as I am an NRA Certified Instructor and legal gun owner with 20 years of shooting experience. Additionally, I am a member of and volunteer for Georgia Carry, which is GA’s most effective gun rights lobby. I am also the leader of  a national affiliated women’s shooting chapter. We serve to equip, empower and educate women. We have over 2400 members nationwide and more than 100 chapters nationally since our inception in January. Well over 200 of those members are in the immediate metro Atlanta area. This level of growth is evidence of the great demand out there among women who are interested in taking on the responsibility of learning to protect themselves. 

I have studied your ideals and you seem to be a reasonable man regarding citizens’ rights. I’m sure you’re aware that gun-free zones only serve to invite criminal activity. Grocery store parking lots are already traditionally viewed as “scary” places. How does taking away a woman’s means to defend herself make sense? 

Unless and until this policy is changed, I cannot in good conscience support Whole Foods or Harry’s. I also will discourage my family, friends, peers and fellow gun rights cohorts from giving their money to an establishment which attempts to make them feel less safe and lacks respect for the local rule of law. 

I do hope that this matter is reconsidered and would appreciate your response.

Best Regards,

Elizabeth Finch

Hopefully I will be able to soon provide an update of a positive response. Until then, I’ll shop elsewhere and I know many others who will do the same.

 

 

Just Because You Can…

There are many things that we can, or that we are legally permitted to, do that often aren’t the best idea. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet in some states. Eating 50 cookies in one sitting. Confronting a home intruder with a gun.

I can hear you now. “What??? I thought you were all for being able to defend yourself! Have you sold out? Did the lefty loons get to you?” No, I am still a staunch supporter in the right to defend yourself. I have not sold out and I am in no danger of taking up with the lefty loons. It’s about responsibility. With the right to defend yourself also comes a great amount of responsibility and if you’re going to accept your rights, you also must accept your responsibilities.

With all the talk recently surrounding the Zimmerman case and the Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws, this is a good time to talk about not only what you CAN do but what you SHOULD do. This isn’t a debate about Zimmerman. He’s not guilty and that has been tried and determined through our justice system. He’s no longer on trial in Florida and he’s not on trial in this blog either. I very much stand behind his right to defend himself. His innocence is not in question; however, his actions could be. We sometimes have to make split decisions, just as he did that night. There are many things which factor into these quick moments such as motivation, training, instinct, personal perception of circumstances…I’m really in no position to judge Mr. Zimmerman on any of those factors. I was not there and I’m not in his head. I may have done things a little differently and I may not have but it’s important for all of us to analyze, without judging since there but for the grace of God go we, how could that have played out differently?

I had a perfect opportunity for a “What Would I Do” test this morning. It was 7:30 AM on Sunday morning and I was awoken rudely and sharply by my alarm. Not the one by my bedside, but my home alarm. The mechanical lady who resides within the unit speaks, along with an ear-shattering, high-pitched blare. She told me it was my basement motion sensor which triggered the alarm. I live in a 2 story house with a basement and all the bedrooms are upstairs. I had my .45 right there by me, holstered, in the bed. My husband is out of town this weekend, so it’s been just me for a couple of days. And some dude who is in one of my Facebook groups was messaging me last night and kind of creeping me out, so that flittered through my mind at that moment. So, I got up, pulled my .45 within reach and answered my cellphone for the alarm monitoring company. She asked if I was in the house by myself and I told her that hopefully, yes, but that remains to be seen and she then asked if I wanted her to send police and I told her yes, please. So, I threw on my jeans and secured my .45 to my waist and waited at the top of the stairs on a bench under the front window so that I could simultaneously keep an eye on the stairwell and out the window for the police. When the patrol car pulled up, I carefully went down to the main level and opened the front door to greet him. He checked the outside perimeter first and then came back around the front and inside and into the basement.

Everything was secure. I still don’t know what tripped it. It’s pet-friendly up to 40 pounds and there were no spider webs around it. Perhaps a spider still crossed directly onto the sensor.

But let’s suppose someone had entered my home through my basement. Did I do the right thing? Did I really need to have a police officer clear my basement? After all, I’m armed, I’m good under pressure, I’m an NRA Instructor and I lead a local chapter of The Well Armed Woman which teaches women all about self-empowerment and being able to defend oneself. Couldn’t I have just taken care of it by myself? After all , isn’t that my right, which I am entitled to exercise?

In the hypothetical scenario that someone was in my house, yes, I absolutely had every right to confront him and shoot him. There’s really no gray area there as far as the letter of the law is concerned. However, the Zimmerman case is case and point that even when the law is on your side, your life could still be turned upend. Forever.

Now, I will not hesitate to use deadly force to defend my life but I don’t want to have to do that and I will avoid it until I am unable to. Then, I will kill you but only because there is no other option to ensure that I stay alive myself.

Is it because I’m weak or not confident in my abilities or rights? No, it’s because I happen to enjoy my life the way it is now and I’d prefer to not turn it on its ear.

What if I charged into the basement by myself and ended up shooting a neighborhood kid? What if I ended up shooting a woman in my neighborhood who entered my house in an attempt to hide from her abusive husband who was chasing her? What if it was my husband coming home early? We all like to think that we’d have the ability to discern before shooting but if the light is low and that other person moves their arm upwards in an attempt to motion me to stop and to me it looks like they’re reaching to their side for their own sidearm then I may determine in that split second that I don’t have any more time and I must pull the trigger NOW to save my own life.

I would completely be within my legal rights but I could still be wrong. I don’t want to live with a preventable death on my hands and my heart. No matter how stupid it may be of some idiot kid to enter my basement. No matter how bad of an idea it may be for that neighborhood wife to take refuge in my house to avoid her asshole husband. No matter how completely lame-brained it would be for my husband to come home earlier than expected without notifying me AND without disarming the alarm with his phone before entering the house. Does that mean that they should lose their lives and that I should be the one to take that life from them? Imagine yourself in any of those scenarios and if you still think that you’d be okay emotionally and psychologically, then you need to have a serious come-to-Jesus with God about personal conscience. And probably see a therapist.

And let’s not forget the possibility that the other person could get the drop on me. If he’s an armed robber I could end up dead. I’m a good shot and all but there are no guarantees in a gunfight. I’d be a complete jackass to assume that I’m going to be the one who comes out alive in that scenario. I feel that my chances would be good but cockiness kills.

Even without the moral implications and the weight around one’s conscience, there are still legal implications. Just because you’re innocent doesn’t mean you won’t be charged with anything. The legal system shows us that every day. George Zimmerman wasn’t even charged that fateful night. It was clear that he had violated no law the night he killed Trayvon in self defense. Yet, here he is a year and a half later with his life changed forever, having faced a long trial and fight for his freedom, more legal battles to face, his name dragged through the mud, his reputation forever in question, broke and slandered and persecuted. His life will NEVER be the same again. He will always be a polarizing figure wherever he goes and his life will always likely be in danger somewhat.

Do I want any of that? Hell no! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Someone is going to have to work hard to make me risk dying myself or losing control over my life for years. If someone had made their way up the stairs while I was waiting for the police, then I was in a position to see them before they saw me and I could assess them first and allow myself time to act after making a determination. This gives me a vantage point and helps lessen my chances of making an error in judgment. It gives me the ability to then move around the corner toward the laundry room so that if he continues up the next flight of stairs I’m then in a position to shoot him when he turns the corner since I’ve been able to determine without a doubt that I’m not only legally but also morally within my bounds to shoot him.

By having the police officer come and clear my home, I greatly lower my likelihood of having to make those life altering, split second decisions. I only have to make a decision on deadly force if an intruder puts me in a position to where I cannot avoid making such a decision. If the police officer shoots a kid or a neighborhood woman or my husband, he’s at a greater advantage than I am legally. It may not be fair, but it’s reality.

I believe that we are our own first line of self defense and that we are ultimately all responsible for our own protection but that doesn’t mean that the police are not a valuable resource. It’s not about holding them responsible for our safety but it is about using your resources wisely. I could have taken care of this myself and refused the police dispatch offered by my alarm company but had I done that, there’s a very real chance that instead of writing this blog post right now, that I could be shaking in a corner somewhere or being booked into jail or at the hospital with my husband or dead.

The actions which I took today are actions which I could have lived with and with a free conscience regardless of the outcome. And that’s what it’s ultimately about. Just because you have a right to certain actions doesn’t always mean you should take them.

Before you criticize my actions or respond with other actions you may have taken, consider them. I mean really think about them. Play that scenario all the way through to the end. Look at all the angles and then see if that changes your outlook. Because your actions aren’t just about what’s legal or constitutional. Your actions could have devastating effects on you and your entire family forever.