By Jen Jacobson
Chelsea Thurman never thought she’d need a gun to protect herself until she was sexually assaulted.
“It’s never one of those situations where it’s going to be you until it is you and after that I became very enthusiastic about carrying and about getting a lot of training,” said Thurman.
Thurman says now, with a gun, she feels safe again.
“(My safety) was something that was taken from me when I was assaulted,” said Thurman,
Thurman says she is proud to be a part of a new era in which more women are carrying guns.
Utah’s gun culture has typically been male-dominated, but times are changing, and more women are buying guns.
“I’m proud that more women are taking control of their own safety,” said Thurman. “I’m extremely proud that more women are becoming more comfortable with guns.”
That new mindset seems to be catching on.
Last year, 19,000 Utah women completed training and received a concealed-carry permit.
Of the 30,000 concealed carry permits issued in 2017, nearly two-thirds went to women. Utah has not seen a female proportion that high in 10 years.
“The mindset is definitely changing and women are seeing that there’s not going to be a prince on a white horse that’s going to save them,” said Michelle Camp, a firearm instructor and State Leader of The Well-Armed Woman. “Women need to save themselves.”
“I want to make sure that they’re not a victim,” said Connie Peterson, another firearm instructor and State Leader of The Well-Armed Woman. “They’re a victor. I want to change that dynamic, and I want to change those letters. You don’t have to be a victim ever. Be control of yourself. Be the victor.”
But Camp and Peterson say women aren’t just owning guns; they’re also owning how to handle them.
“I even go to the range and shoot in my business clothes and high heels,” said gun enthusiast, Audree Flanders. “I don’t know if I’ll be in tennis shoes when I fire that gun, so can I do those things in the attire that I wear on a daily basis?”
However, gun enthusiasts say it’s not about being paranoid; it’s about being prepared.
“It’s the same thing as having a fire extinguisher in my house,” said Camp. “I don’t have a fire extinguisher because I think my house will burn down, and I don’t have a gun because I think someone is going to kill me, but if they do, then I want to be prepared.”
To learn more about the Well-Armed Woman of Utah, click here.