Did you know that all this month, the USCCA is recognizing and celebrating women? I am so lucky to have met, trained with, worked alongside and learned from some of the most amazing ladies in our industry. And although the task was not simple, I’ve narrowed a long list down to five of the most influential women to highlight. I’ve given each of them a handful of questions to ponder and answer. Their backgrounds, experiences, talents and careers may be completely different, but their mission is the same: to share support of our Second Amendment and the right to protect what we love.
Cheryl Todd: Co-Owner of ZAFirearms.com and Co-Host of Gun Freedom Radio
These last few weeks have been so much fun, as I have spoken with some fantastic women in our industry and shared their stories. If you’ve followed along, you’ve gotten to hear from D.C. Project’s Dianna Muller; Emily Valentine with Style me Tactical; Dawn Hillyer, creator and owner of HidingHilda; and Olympian Gabby Franco. To finish out this month, I am speaking with Cheryl Todd, co-owner of AZFirearms.com and co-host of Gun Freedom Radio.
I can’t count how many times Cheryl and I have crossed paths! This is one dynamic woman who spends so much of her time and energy speaking for women and for gun rights. I have had the pleasure to see and hear her just about everywhere — from fashion shows, rallies, parties and conferences to training events, industry get-togethers, television and radio!
In my book, you are an important influencer in the firearms industry. Who do you feel is your audience, and what are your most significant messages to them?
My target audience is people who are “undecided” and who occupy the “middle space” between the polarized political factions of left and right. My audience [is] people who are seeking a calm and logical voice to counter the frenzied and exhausting emotional rhetoric that seeks to vilify firearms and the people who own them.
My message is one of re-normalizing gun ownership in the average American home. In order to do that, I assert and reassert that the Second Amendment is not a political topic. I point over and again to the document that holds the 27 words that comprise our Second Amendment. That document is the firewall intended to prevent the overreach of government into our personal lives. It is important that we learn and remember why the authors of these documents wrote them in the first place — they and their fellow patriots had just fought, bled [and] starved, [and] many died — to push back the tyranny of just such overreach. These patriots put everything on the line to secure our precious and unique American constitutional liberties and hand to us the responsibility of protecting our legacy of freedom for current and all future generations.
What has been one of your best success stories or proudest moments?
On our radio show Gun Freedom Radio, my husband Danny and I interview people who are authorities in their field[s]. We have had the privilege of helping share the stories of experts in hunting and conservation and in the competitive shooting sports as well as those who have dedicated their personal and professional lives to protecting the Constitution. My proudest moments are when I hear someone say that they were inspired to take their freedoms more seriously because of one of these interviews. When someone becomes involved with — and vocal about — the importance of preserving and defending this experiment in freedom that we call the United States of America, we all win.
Talk about a failure or a “miss” you experienced. What did you learn from it?
Any effective advocate must have the heart of a teacher. Advocates can only do this work out of a true passion and love for people, for our nation and for our future. We can never be successful if we focus on what we are against or what we “hate.” With those things in mind, my biggest failures have been when I have allowed my most precious and finite resources — my time and energy — to be used up by someone who had no interest in honest debate and exchange of ideas.
In my attempt to engage in conversation, I have (on occasion) misdiagnosed what I hoped was true and mutual curiosity and open-mindedness. What I was actually dealing with was willful ignorance and someone who [had] determined that they [were] already as smart and as informed as they ever [wanted] to be. I cannot get those moments back to invest in someone else who truly wants to wrestle with thoughts and ideas and from whom I can also learn and grow. Those are true missteps, and I try to be more discerning and wiser in who I give my time to in the future.
Which people, organizations, training or books have had the most influence on your growth — and why?
I am blessed to be connected to an organization called The DC Project, which brings together women from [all] 50 states to form relationships with our individual elected representatives. In this work, we seek to establish the importance of protecting and preserving our constitutional rights through education, knowledge and wisdom, not through more and more needless and ineffective legislation. I am also honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association (ASRPA), which is the state arm of the NRA.
I am proud to have been elected to serve on the Board of the Second Amendment Institute (SAI), which fuels the work of Students For Self-Defense (S4SD) on college campuses across the nation. And I also have the extreme privilege to serve on the Board of the Arizona Citizens Defense League Foundation (AZCDLF). This Foundation is focused on bringing education and safety to the topic of firearms and firearms owners. In early 2020, the AZCDLF took the reins of a long-standing organization called TrainMeAZ [with] the goal of connecting people with skilled firearms trainers and training programs around the state.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
When I feel fatigued in my work as an advocate and as a steward of freedom and liberty, I need only to look at my family to be reminded of my reasons why. I am a wife, a mom and a grandma, and whatever I do (or don’t do) in my lifetime will reverberate forward and will impact my daughter’s life and my two granddaughters’ lives. I am the direct beneficiary of the immeasurable gift of freedom. This gift was given to me by people who were arguably braver, stronger and more dedicated to protect my freedoms than I often am myself. This knowledge propels me to want to do better, if not for myself, then for my children and my children’s children.
What are some goals for you and/or for your organization/business?
My main goal and that of my husband and team is to serve well. In … our daily work and in the ultimate results of our efforts, we seek to use our resources to serve our community, our clients and our fellow American[s] in such a way as to encourage an ever deeper and more rich understanding of and connection with our precious and unique legacy and inheritance of freedom and liberty.