Recent changes in Arizona state law now allow citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, although a permit is still required if carrying a handgun within 1000 feet of a school zone (K-12), when in restaurants, bars and other public places serving alcoholic beverages and traveling outside Arizona to 36 other states (which honor Arizona residents with an AZ CCW Permit in their possession). The new law also requires individuals to notify a police officer that they are carrying a concealed weapon if they are asked.
With these new laws in mind, there are several options to consider when deciding to use a handgun as a concealed carry for a women’s personal safety:
1. Take a Gun Safety Course – The Beginner Handgun Safety & Marksmanship Course is designed to teach basic safety and shooting skills to the beginner. It incorporates the option of obtaining an AZ CCW Permit, any time after successful completion of the class. Prospective students do not have to be residents of Arizona. They do however have to be a United States citizen or documented to be residing in the United States legally. Eligibility also requires a minimum age of 21 years and no prior felony offenses or Domestic Dispute convictions. Make sure that the course meets or exceeds the new Arizona CCW requirements and guidelines.
2. Comfort Brings Confidence – Look for a handgun that is lightweight and thin. A good weight for a woman’s handgun would be less than two pounds, ideally something around 16 ounces. Also think thin. A firearm with a long barrel and a short round butt will be much easier to conceal than a short-barreled gun with a big square butt.
3. Practice at the Shooting Range – Stay familiar with the operation of your handgun and keep up with your marksmanship skills. Try to practice at the shooting range at least every six months and discharge 25-50 rounds at each session.
4. Find a Gun that Fits Your Hand – Many gun manufacturers are now realizing that there is an increasing market for concealed weapons specifically designed for women. Manufactures are now making smaller models of already established handguns that are more suitably sized for a woman. When choosing the right size, the index finger of the shooting hand should easily be able to reach the trigger and the grip should fit comfortably in the palm of the hand.
5. Get a Good Holster – Generally, carrying a concealed weapon in a purse is not a good idea. If a thief grabs a purse, he gets the gun inside. Children can get into purse and purses contain a myriad of other assorted objects that may get a concealed weapon dirty. However, there are now purses, backpacks and fanny packs that are specifically designed for women to carry a gun. A good purse for a concealed carry will have a built-in holster with a retention strap or a locking, zippered gun compartment.
A good holster is a better choice and there are several styles available specifically for women. Holsters can be worn a number of ways, including around the waist, over the shoulder and at the thigh. Choose what is most comfortable and will facilitate the quickest draw under stress. Practice retrieving the weapon from the holster many times before wearing it in public.
In conclusion, the decision to carry a concealed weapon isn’t an easy one, yet every woman has a right to defend herself and each must do it in their own way. The use of self-defense techniques, whether by carrying pepper spray, using physical techniques, or carrying a handgun can be an empowering and effective method to avoid being a victim.