This feature appears in the September ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
In the torrent of predictable hysteria coming from the progressive glitterati since last November’s election, gun hatred is riding high. Buoyed in a media man-of-war fairly bristling with vague studies, vaguer polls and body-guarded condescension, the do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do crowd seems bent anew on torpedoing the Second Amendment and its protections for the rest of Americans.
They are the rising, accomplished archetypes of gun ownership that the enemies of the Bill of Rights fear most.But standing squarely against this elitist tide is something quite out of their reckoning—the likes of recent NRA Carry Guard graduates Stephanie Huyen and Katelyn Ely. They are the rising, accomplished archetypes of gun ownership that the enemies of the Bill of Rights fear most. Why they fear them is simple enough: They are women, they are educated, they are plainly (and well) spoken. Better still, they are not takers of any stripe, but givers in a fashion once familiar—as wife or mother; as health care professional or business owner; and, should the need appear, as trained protectors of the sort rightly honored since the minutemen of revolutionary times.
America’s 1st Freedom: Stephanie, Katelyn, thank you for taking the time to tell us about your NRA Carry Guard experience. Can you give us little background about what got you here?
Steff Huyen: I started shooting a handgun with my dad when I was 15 or 16. Since we had firearms around the house, he thought it was important for me to know both safety and the basics of how to use one. In my mid-20s, I started keeping a handgun around routinely for personal protection, and that turned out to be a good thing: I had to draw it. I did not have to shoot, but that experience convinced me I needed to know a lot more about personal security and firearms use. Going to the range once or twice a year wasn’t going to be enough.
Katelyn Ely: My experience as a kid was similar—mostly bolt-action rifles and .22 handguns while camping. But I married someone who worked in the firearm industry, so we always had guns around the house. So I decided I needed to become more familiar with them, especially in terms of safety when our children started to come along.
A1F:So, fortunately, no real trigger event, pardon the pun, put you on the road to NRA Carry Guard training?
SH: Beyond that one bad experience, my career (labor and delivery nurse) made me think about personal safety in a more organized way. Maybe it’s a reflection of my nursing background and training, but at some point I realized I wanted to be able to protect others too. I practice and train how to respond to life-and-death situations in my career; I wanted to be able to do the same in other aspects of my life.
I have taken other concealed-carry courses, and they were good in some respects. But what I was most interested in, and what NRA Carry Guard offers, are simulations and the situational thinking that no one else has really provided.
KE: Our work in the firearm industry had kindled, or maybe rekindled, my interest in firearms, and when I started concealing a firearm, I started to share my interest in women’s fashion for CCW with others. A lot of women would like to have a firearm available more regularly and easily, but some women just aren’t sure how to do that. So I started to share my own experiences in an effort to encourage more women to get involved with firearms. The more I learned about them, the more my love and interest for them expanded into the larger Second Amendment issues. Improving my skills went right along with that.
What I was most interested in, and what NRA Carry Guard offers, are simulations and the situational thinking that no one else has really provided.The sophisticated curriculum of NRA Carry Guard seemed like a great use of my time, too. “Mom” duties make it complicated to train and practice as much as I’d like to, but I do what I can. Put all that together, and I think you’d have to say I’m pretty much immersed in the “gun culture” now. <<Laughing>>
A1F: And did the Level 1 curriculum meet those expectations?
SH: I’ll never forget the Airsoft simulations we did. The one that really stuck out to me was when a simulated nice guy—one of our instructors—got inside my “bubble.” I let him get too close to a point where I didn’t have enough time to get to my firearm, because I didn’t want to come off as mean or rude. It was easy to say what I would do in a situation, but NRA Carry Guard made the situation as close to real as possible and had me go through the actual motions. This was different from simply talking about it like in other classes. Even the concept of a bubble was a problem, I learned: Women especially tend to want to be nice, and that can be dangerous. We let people get into our personal space with a false security that because we have a gun, it will still be okay. In reality, we let people get too close, and then it’s too late. I’m better prepared now that I’ve experienced some of the stress and emotion of that danger.
KE: I agree with that completely. The drill the NRA Carry Guard instructors used to teach that lesson was pretty much unforgettable. We would stand back-to-back with the instructor, and the timer would go off. The instructor would start to run in the opposite direction, and the student was to draw from the holster and take one shot on target. It was amazing how far the instructor could get in the time it takes to draw and make a single shot. It was as simple as it was scary: The distance the instructor could cover is the same distance—in reverse—from which someone can be a threat to you or your family. If you combine that with women’s general desire to be “nice,” like Steff said, it shows how little response time you have and how quickly things can go wrong.
SH: The simulations were amazing, but the classroom work was really valuable too. I mean, you can do the right thing in just about every sense, but if you don’t know what to do and say in the aftermath, you can still end up in a lot of trouble—even go to prison.
KE: The training makes it clear that you have a split second to decide whether or not to use your gun, and both choices can have severe consequences.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearm safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and has earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.