With Christmas only one month gone, I’m still hearing from scores of women who received guns from loved ones over the holidays. I get it. I do. With all the bad things happening in the world, our moms, sisters, girlfriends, fiancés, wives, and daughters need to protect themselves.

It sounds like a great idea…and guys really do think they’re being helpful. But oftentimes, they’re doing it all wrong!

Let me just set up a quick comparison here. Would guys want to (or be comfortable with or able to) shop for and select a new pair of shoes for those women in their lives? Would they be able to navigate the styles, types, colors, and sizes and come up with that “perfect fit?” Probably not. Finding the right pair of shoes is a personal process that involves options, deliberations, and some trial and error. And finding the right gun isn’t that far removed!

Don’t get me wrong: Giving someone the gift of self-protection is a wonderful gesture. But overall, those great intentions don’t always yield great results. What usually happens is that guys pick out guns that they like or that others have convinced them to buy. Then the woman doesn’t know how to use the gun, so it stays in a drawer, in a car, or in a purse. In some cases, the new gun owner has never even held the gun, loaded it, shot it, or anything! And in other situations, the woman will take her new gun for training, but she won’t like it. It will be too small or too big. It will feel too heavy. It will be difficult to manipulate the trigger or rack the slide. Whatever the case may be, it just won’t FIT her.

Women have different needs and challenges (body types, strength, size, abilities, physical limitations, experience, lifestyles, etc.). And women need to be encouraged to train with their firearms. It’s not enough just to have a gun. Every woman deserves the chance to be comfortable and confident with that firearm. Otherwise, she won’t be prepared to use it. Also, women need to get in the right mindset for gun ownership. It’s not just a physical readiness; it’s a mental preparation. For women, buying and carrying a gun for protection is not a casual decision, and it’s not one someone else should make for them. It’s a serious, life-changing commitment. But it’s also a choice that more and more women are making in our world today.

I recently spotted a great quote from Cheri Jacobus, Republican strategist. She argued that as women establish more independence in their lives, it’s only natural that personal protection will be part of that evolution. Citing the heroism of some of the female teachers during Sandy Hook, she said, “Gone are the days when women look to men to keep them safe. Female head of households and single professional women rely on themselves for economic security and now for physical security, as well.”

I think that this kind of self-reliance translates to women everywhere: married women, single women, moms, grandmothers, college students, and businesswomen. And if these empowered females are going to have and carry firearms, I firmly believe that they should play a bigger part in picking them out in the first place. Use all those amazing resources out there. Ask questions. Do research. Try out some guns. Be a smart shopper. And be an integral part of the process.

So, for all those guys out there who want their loved ones to have a firearm for home and personal protection: kudos to you! But instead of going out to purchase the gun for her, I highly recommend that you purchase it with her.