We recently celebrated our nation’s 240th birthday. And this is a very important election year. If those two things, alone, don’t get you thinking about our country and what’s happening in our nation, then I’m not sure what would.

The thing is, when it comes to our Second Amendment right, we need to think about our country. We need to think about our government and the people who are being elected to represent us. And we need to pay attention. We need to take a stand for responsible gun ownership.

That’s why I am honored to have been a part of this year’s D.C. Project, a nonpartisan, collaborative effort that brought together 50 women from all 50 states to go to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., and meet with our representatives and legislators. I am also honored to have represented my state, Alabama. I truly feel blessed that I live in Alabama, where our right to bear arms is largely supported. But that could always change. And we should never take our freedoms for granted. That’s why it’s so important that we had the opportunity to take a stand and share with our elected officials that the face of firearms is changing. The face of firearms isn’t just men; it’s people of all kinds and backgrounds. And, most importantly, it’s women. We are the fastest-growing demographic of gun owners. And we have the opportunity to provide unique stories and perspectives on the importance of the Second Amendment…from competitive shooting sports, commerce, and hunting to, of course, the protection of ourselves and our loved ones.

The D.C. Project project was originally started by Dianna Muller, former law enforcement officer and acclaimed 3-Gun shooter, to encourage female gun owners from across the nation to work together and to build relationships with representatives and their offices in Washington D.C. And this project is truly what a grassroots effort looks like. After three days of cold calls and meetings with elected officials from all across the nation, a little sightseeing in the humidity, and a host of blistered feet, we concluded our event on July 8, with the D.C. Project Rally on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol Building. We opened up with the Pledge of Allegiance, enjoyed a fantastic line-up of speakers with diverse backgrounds, and concluded with keynote speaker, Gayle Trotter, a columnist, political analyst, and attorney who regularly appears on TV, political websites, and radio shows across the country. She challenged listeners to be wary of the media and to always look for the truth, and she reiterated her support for the Second Amendment in her speech by mentioning that “Over 90% of violent crime in the United States occurs without a firearm….and the only effective way you have to fight back in those situations…is to have the great equalizer.”

We sincerely doubt that everyone we met with has the same feelings as Trotter. But in an article from The News-Times, Connecticut’s Senator Chris Murphy said of the D.C. Project, “These women take gun ownership seriously, and they represent responsible gun owners that often are not represented at the center of the debate.” As our Connecticut representative pointed out, coming from a Senator who filibustered for gun control for 15 hours just a few weeks ago, that’s a pretty impressive statement.

All in all, the women of the D.C. Project do take our gun ownership very seriously. And, as Dianna Muller stated, “We break the stereotype of the typical gun owner. Female gun owners are diverse and have individualized stories and accounts of why this Amendment is so important to them. These stories need to be shared, as they are representative of many within legislators’ constituencies.”

In a short span of three days, 50 women from 50 states had the chance to stand together for responsible gun ownership. And while we all have very different stories and backgrounds, we all speak in a single voice for the protection of our right to keep and bear arms. We may not have changed everyone’s minds. But the dialogue has certainly begun. And we will be back again at our nation’s capital to make sure that the conversation continues.