With International Women’s Day recognized yesterday, March 8, and celebrated throughout this week, I didn’t want to pass up a chance to touch on the significance of women in the firearms community. According to the International Women’s Day 2021 website, the theme this year is “choose to challenge.” The explanation being “a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge.”

Well, I’m pretty sure I’m putting a completely unexpected spin on their intended methods for celebrating women’s achievement. I want to “raise awareness against bias” by challenging women to share their own personal journeys into firearms ownership.

To get things going, here is a short version from me and from two amazing ladies I am honored to call fellow 2A advocates and friends! I met Johanna and Candace at a recent event. And we had the joy of spending a lot of time together, training and talking and getting to know one another … and discovering our similar taste in shoes. But while the three of us have three very different backgrounds and stories, we also have much in common because of our right to keep and bear arms and because of our belief that we are all worth protecting (and quite possibly because of our affinity with Chucks!).

Beth A.

My name is Beth. I’m an associate editor with the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. I am a Caucasian, first-generation-born American on my mother’s side. I live in central Alabama. I am married with three kids. And I am a gun owner.

I carry and train because I know that the responsibility for my family starts with me. I can’t put that burden on someone else and be left hopeless or helpless, waiting for someone to arrive in our time of need. I need to be prepared and ready to protect myself and my family. That’s why I also educate my children and give them the tools they need to make wise decisions, to use good situational awareness, and to prepare for their own lives and families.

I am proud to be a mom. I am proud to be an American. And I am proud to be part of a rich and diverse community of responsible, law-abiding citizens who love freedom and value life.

Johanna R.

My name is Johanna. I am a 2nd Amendment advocate and the co-host of the Locked & Loaded Latinos podcast. I am a Hispanic, first-generation-born American of Colombian and Dominican descent. I hail from South Florida. I recently celebrated my first year of marriage. And I am a gun owner.

I carry and I train because of love. I love my family — my nieces, nephew, siblings, parents, in-laws and my husband. I want to protect them all from the faceless evils that unfortunately exist in our world. I love myself. We have the right to self-preservation, and I refuse to be anyone’s victim. I love this country. As a child of immigrants, I am aware of the blessing it is to be a citizen of this great nation. I believe in the Constitution and the necessity for it to be protected. Firearm owners are not what the media paint us to be. This Latina is a loving sister, daughter, tía and wife. I am a patriot. And just like you, I am someone who wants to live free.

Candace S.

My name is Candace. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a gun owner. I carry and train to honor the legacy of my family and the legacy that every human life has value. And with that value comes the right to protect and defend.

My grandfather, Lacey Poteat (born in 1917), was an avid shooter, hunter and Second Amendment advocate. He founded South Philadelphia’s first Rod and Gun Club in the 1960s, where all people were welcome to learn how to shoot and hunt. My grandfather taught his family and his community that personal safety was not — and should not be — totally entrusted to others and that the right to bear arms was a gift: A Constitutional, God-given right to defend oneself. My grandfather loved America and was a true patriot. He understood that the right to keep and bear arms was a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment for ALL Americans.

As an African American woman, I too hold my grandfather’s values and truths. And I will continue to express my freedom to protect myself and my family.