I’m not a monster

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Being a gun owner doesn’t make me crazy. It doesn’t make me a monster. It doesn’t mean that I don’t value life or that I don’t hurt when I see lives taken. I own guns and I carry a gun because I value life so much that I want to protect it.

As a mother, my heart aches for parents who experience the loss of a child. I don’t think any mother or father — conservative, democrat, third party, or no party — wants to feel the pain of losing a child. As soon as that baby is put into our arms or that child comes into our homes, we feel the ever present need to protect that sacred life.

Protecting the lives of my children is why I chose to carry and why I support the Second Amendment. I think every parent should have the resources and opportunity to protect their family.

Bumble says no guns, but why?

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Bumble has announced the eradication of firearms from user profiles. The online dating app said the decision to moderate profiles and eliminate firearms from the platform was made because “it’s time to state unequivocally that gun violence is not in line with our values, nor do these weapons belong on Bumble.”

Anyone else scratching their heads? While I respect the platform’s right to run it the way in which it sees fit, I can’t say I agree. In fact, the move seems clunky and confusing. Why can I list my Netflix obsession and my adoration of all things Edgar Allen Poe but I can’t list guns in my hobbies? How is removing firearms or any mention of them helpful for those whose career or passion is guns? Seems like Bumble is setting its users up for even more disappointment in the dating world.

It’s no secret that I’m divorced. The change in my marital status thrust me back out into the dating world…I should caveat this with the last time I was single, Kanye was lamenting Gold Diggers while Gwen Stefani was letting us all know she ain’t no Hollaback Girl. In short, the prospect of dating again and in an entirely new manner was terrifying.

I was persuaded by friends to try online dating — in specific Bumble. I downloaded the app last year with trepidation, wrote out a profile tinted with shades of wit and sarcasm. (After all, any potential suitors would need to know that sass is part of my repertoire.) I added that I was a single mom and a journalist and, in specific, a gun journalist.

After I was satisfied with the written portion, I began adding pictures. As any girl beholden to online dating knows, pics are the hardest part. Of course, I chose ones I felt made me look the thinnest and my nose less sharp but I also selected two pictures of me shooting — one, a long range shot taken at a media event, and the second a shot of me posing with a pistol. I am a gun girl and it’s a label I wear proudly.

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Guns are a part of my career as a gun journalist — a permanent fixture that both feeds my family and that I’m passionate about. For the same reason I listed myself as a single mom, I was resolute in my decision to include guns in my Bumble profile. I felt it was only fair that potential suitors know what they were signing up for.

Bumble helped me land several dates fairly quickly. Being a gun girl in the South has its perks it seems. Some were avid supporters of the Second Amendment. Some were lukewarm about guns. They all knew that I was a gun girl, though, and that prevented any awkward debates about the Second Amendment over coffee or dinner. It actually made my transition back into dating easier because everything was on the table. (Not to mention I got a couple of fun dates at the range out of it.)

It’s disheartening to hear that Bumble is so easily dismissing a large segment of the population based solely on a hobby. Single women like me are now left wondering what next? For a platform built for women aimed at making the dating world less complicated and intimidating, Bumble seems to be doing exactly that.

If it doesn’t look real, it probably isn’t

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Let’s talk pictures, specifically concealment photos on social media.

Through my internet travels I frequently see photos touting how well a gun conceals in various outfits. While I wholeheartedly encourage women to play around with their wardrobe, there’s a disturbing trend emerging. One in which the photo-taker isn’t completely honest about the gun, concealment or picture they’re boasting.

Just about anything can be hidden or altered given the right lighting, angle and post-production — ask any celebrity.

The same can be said for gun photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A simple turn of the hip paired with the right light and that clunky, protruding gun suddenly vanishes. The concealer looks slim, trim and her followers marvel at her advanced abilities to conceal. Problem is, they’re not seeing the “full picture.” What viewers get is a portion of reality. It’s like the fake news of the gun world.

This is not to say that Facebook post or IG picture is faked. You can do magical things with the right gun in the right holster with the right wardrobe. There are plenty of amazing women in the industry who conceal flawlessly and truthfully; however, I urge caution and a healthy dose of skepticism when perusing social media.

How can you spot the fakes?

Here’s a few tips:

-Someone who is legitimately concealing a gun will offer multiple angles. Those who are faking will only give you one and it will be the most obvious one.

-Stance makes all the difference. Watch out for one foot forward, sucking in the stomach or, alternatively, pushing the booty out. All these can impact the way in which the gun lays against the body and can falsely represent how the gun is concealed.

-Lighting and colors. Is the subject wearing blacks, blues and dark attire? Though these make excellent colors for concealment they can also trick the eye in pictures, especially if the subject is facing away from a light source (or the light is behind). Shadows and filters can do wonders to make that over handgun’s silhouette dissipate.

-Use those critical thinking skills. Do you think a super tight mini-skirt can adequately conceal a full-size Glock? Furthermore, would it even be practical or comfortable to carry in that manner? If it seems off, it probably is.

-Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Namely, you hand me a gun and tell me to hide it, I can do that. You give me a gun and tell me to conceal carry it, that’s a different ball game with a different set of rules. (Retention of the gun, ease of access/ability to draw, ability to re-holster, etc.)

How To: Gear Reviews

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Reviewing isn’t as simple as one would think. Often, readers assume it’s as easy as getting products in and just throwing opinions up online. It’s far from that. In fact, it takes a lot of time as well as effort to craft a thorough, detailed, objective review.

Step One: Idea and Implementation

The process for me starts with an idea. Often I come across products by way of press releases. In addition to working as a reviewer for Guns.com, I also man the product and consumer news portion as a reporter; which gives me the ability to see what’s new and upcoming in the gun and gear world. Other times, I am asked to review items either by the company itself or by members of the gun community.

Once an idea takes form, I contact the manufacturer and request to test and evaluate the product, known as a T&E.  If the company agrees to the project then we outline the specifics — how long the review will be, how many pictures are included, if there’s video, etc. For gear reviews, this is also where I detail what guns I have available to test with and sizing of holsters.

I’d like to make it clear that with holsters that require specific sizing to ensure a proper fit, I always send the manufacturer my measurements and allow them to select the size of the holster for me. This eliminates any errors on my part. Once the specifics are in order, companies ship out the gear to me for testing.

I T&E all products AS IS.

Step Two: Testing and Evaluation

Testing and evaluation for me is an arduous process that I don’t take lightly. I take on the responsibility of providing unbiased, honest information. What I say has meaning to consumers and readers and I know that.

I base my usage of the product on the instructions sent to me by the company or through their website, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If I am utterly lost on the proper usage, I will contact the manufacturer for clarification. I approach each review from two stand-points: that of a shooter who has been carrying for nearly a decade and from the viewpoint of someone totally new to the world of guns and gear. This creates a full-bodied review that suits both new readers and seasoned veterans.

The testing process for holsters and most gear is a multi-week ordeal where I focus solely on that product. For holsters, I first begin by pairing the rig with either a SIRT training pistol or a blue gun. I carry one of these guns for one week to get a feel for the gear. This helps solidify limitations the holster might have and also ensures that I am safe while testing. During this time I analyze form, fit, function, comfortability and the basic details that start my reviews.

I then move to carrying a firearm. I have a bevy of guns to choose from but usually stick with either the Springfield Mod.2, Ruger LC9s, Smith & Wesson Shield or Glock 19. I first carry around my home with an empty mag and chamber working on my draw and dry fire. There are situations in which a holster might perform well under the conditions of a blue gun but when an actual gun is introduced a flaw will emerge (such as sights snagging or holsters sagging due to the weight of the real gun).

Additionally, I look at real world testing. I jog, run, do cartwheels, roll around on the floor and even practice self-defense scenarios to see how the gear holds up. Nine times out of ten this is where the holster is either going to shine or fail and the majority of my opinion will be crafted from these exercises.

I then move onto multiple trips to the range with live, chambered rounds. I practice drawing and shooting with the gear and gun. This gives me practical information on how the gear holds up with the introduction of live ammo and gun. For instance, a fabric holster might hold up in dry fire tests but once a hot gun is introduced the fabric might deteriorate or not provide enough protection to keep the wearer from being burned.

Sometimes the process takes longer. If I feel I need more time with the gear, I definitely take it. My numbers are not hard and fast but reflect how the holster performs throughout the testing.

Step Three: Write it up

Once testing is done, I move on to the actual writing of the review as well as picture/video taking. I strive for accurate and honest assessments based on the guns and gear given to me. There is NO bias, no predetermined outcome, no personal feelings in the writing of the reviews. I am a journalist first and foremost and I do not allow personal feelings into my reviews or news articles. There’s no bad blood, there’s no malevolence. The reviews stand on the merits of the products.

If there are major issues, I always include comments from the company within the written article to allow them to state their position or opinion on what went wrong. Occasionally, companies will ask to send another holster for a second look. In those instances, I oblige and will update my review based on what I find.

Final Thoughts

Every T&E and review is conducted with the utmost professionalism that nearly a decade in the writing business has provided to me. I love testing, I love reviewing and I love sharing my thoughts and opinions with you, the reader.

When concealment meets babywearing

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Though my youngest son just turned four and is steadily transitioning away from needing to be worn, there are times that necessitate the Tula and a little babywearing (err…kid wearing. He’d be upset if he knew that I called him a baby.) So how do I do it?

  • Placement: My son is old enough to be back worn; therefore, I move my pistol to the Appendix Inside the Waistband position giving me free and unobstructed access to my Springfield Mod.2.
  • Patterns: Lots and lots of patterns. Florals, polka dots, stripes — they all work to break up the gun’s silhouette and help me conceal despite having a kid strapped to my back.
  • Shirt Cut: The cut of the shirt plays into how well I can conceal the double stack Springfield. The flowier fabrics do a better job of concealing, allowing me to carry the larger gun.
  • Tula Positioning: Positioning the waistband under my shirt and against the gun acts to keep the gun from printing through the shirt while also boasting the added benefit of pulling the gun even tighter into my abdomen, adding to concealment.

CC Setup: Springfield Mod.2 in StealthGearUSA AIWB holster with NexBelt CCW belt.