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Paxton Quigley
 is on a mission: to get more guns in the hands of more women. And she’s already well on her way, having trained thousands of women to wield a weapon to protect themselves. “In Armed & Female: Taking Control,” Quigley describes the types of self-defense that work – yes, packing heat but also street awareness, good fighting techniques and a safe room in the home. She is unenthusiastic about pepper spray, stun guns, tasers and standard Karate. While Quigley would prefer a world without weapons, she argues there is a need for law-abiding citizens – especially women – to have access to guns. Here, she describes how she came to realize the importance of arming women against rapists and other attackers.

By Paxton Quigley

I have trained 7,000 women between the ages of 11 and 80 to shoot guns. Many of them were like me: scared or opposed to guns – and not wanting to deal with the idea of using one. But they had a wake-up call that made them persist.

Mine was a 2 a.m. phone call when I learned a close friend had been raped in her own home. I decided this would not happen to me. So I made an appointment at a gun range and then canceled because of fear. But I rescheduled it and learned the basics.

Feeling competent was another story. I spent more than 400 hours learning to handle a gun for self defense, and it transformed my life. I was a communications executive with a master’s degree in anthropology from University of Chicago. After my gun training, I graduated from an internationally recognized executive security and anti-terrorist school and became a security professional.

Knowing how to defend yourself gives you the grounding for basic survival any place in the world. Women on our frontier accepted that the world was a dangerous place and many knew how to use firearms to defend their families. But today we allow women to become victimized because as a society we are squeamish to acknowledge the dark underbelly of our culture. One in six women is raped, a crime that also sometimes ends in murder. Rapists are rarely caught and, when they are, it’s after an average of 15 crimes.

Why are we as a society, not up in arms — calling for programs at work and school in self-defense training? Why not focus on the powerful idea of turning the tables on assailants? Stories of real-life “Nikitas” — the TV tough who dispatches attackers — are out there but they don’t get a lot of attention because these people don’t wind up as victims. They are people like the elderly couple in the retirement community who foiled burglars; the woman abducted in a trunk who found the gun she carried in her purse; the college girl who used her training in “model mugging” to stop a much-larger attacker; the roommates held hostage by the “pizza man” and who distracted him until they got their gun from a hollowed-out book.

People who fight back should be celebrated for their prowess – and many women are quietly learning to defend themselves. But in our culture it is considered unwomanly to pursue a self defense plan that gives you some peace of mind. That attitude only empowers men who commit crimes against women because the criminals recognize that women are easy targets.

When I visited San Quentin to learn about the men who do these crimes, they said that most women weren’t prepared for an attack and physically were no match. These men were in favor of women actually arming themselves!

They said if they knew women were armed, they would think twice. Consider what happened in Orlando when women began buying guns after a wave of violent assaults. The police gave training sessions which were publicized in the papers. Rapes plummeted in Orlando while increasing in the surrounding cities.

Today, it is legal in 40 states to carry a concealed weapon. That’s just one option in an arsenal of self-protection for women but sometimes it’s the best one. Some day I hope that while women can think the best of the world, they will be prepared for the worst. Victimization isn’t a prerequisite to discovering ways to achieve your own personal power.

It is difficult to admit that our free country is also prone to predatory violence. But when we leave the survival of women to chance, we sell them out. Perhaps this explains why many women enjoy seeing Nikita blast a bad guy with her AK 47. For once, a woman is celebrated for taking control.