If you are like most people, you don't know any woman who has used a gun to protect herself. This makes it very easy to fall into the trap of believing that such incidents don't happen, or that they are incredibly rare. Success Stories
But, according to authorities such as Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, guns are used for defense about 3 to 5 times more often than they are used in crimes. A wide range of different surveys puts the number of defensive gun uses at between 777,000 and 3 million per year. Surely some of these defensive situations must involve women. Why don't we hear their stories?
One reason is that stories that "make the news" on TV in newspapers almost always involve someone being shot, and in well over 90% of defensive gun uses, the gun is never fired. This is extremely good news for the person with the gun, because it is terrible to have to shoot someone, but it means that most media outlets never hear about such incidents or, if they do, they don't consider them newsworthy. Consequently, these stories are never heard.
Another reason is that stories that do have enough impact to make the news tend to be fleeting, and if you miss it, you never get a chance to see it again. And a third reason is that many stories are reported without giving the name of the person involved, making it difficult to contact people to find out more about what happened to them.
For some years, Lyn Bates, the Vice President of AWARE, has also been a contributing editor to Women&Guns magazine. Some of her articles have appeared in a series called Lessons in Reality, each of which tells the story of a woman who has successfully defended herself using a firearm. Those stories are archived here. (If you have a success story of your own, or know someone who does, please let us know by contacting AWARE.)
Why not include success stories that involve other methods of self-protection? Frankly, stories about other methods are fairly easily available from other sources; one of AWARE's unique contributions to the discussion about women's safety is our in-depth knowledge of firearms and the people who use them.
Be warned that some of these stories may be shocking and difficult to read because of the level of violence involved. They were also written for an audience of women who already have some familiarity with firearms. Nonetheless, many people have said that they find these stories inspiring, because they prove that, in the right hands, firearms can be lifesavers.
- He Grabbed for her Gun What if someone tries to grab your gun?
- Small Town, Big Surprise A widow faces a home intruder alone.
- Chronologically Gifted Protect Themselves Guns assist senior citizens.
- Love Gone Wrong She had to shoot her boyfriend with the gun he urged her to buy.
- His Word Against Mine A female doctor against a security system installer.
- Jean's Story A parking lot encounter with a man who might be wanted for rape and murder; lots of lessons here.
- January 1st, 2000 The night of Y2K, a grandmother finds a surprise in her office.
- Bitches with Guns An interstate highway rest stop encounter.
- Anti-gun Mom Turned Survivor Susan Gonzalez, a self-described "scardy cat," faces invaders in her own home.
- A Terrible Place for a Gunfight A convenience store robbery turns deadly.
- Attempted Murder has No Conclusion (Yet) A domestic abuse survivor tells her story.
- The Second Time The same woman is a rape survivor, and a rape attempt survivor.
- Single Mom Survives...Twice A woman trying to help a rape victim is attacked.
- "Just Pick It Up and Shoot" Those repeated words were vitally important.
- I'd Rather Be Dead Than Raped A woman shoots a would-be rapist, with his own gun.
Self-Defense, Lethal Force
- Excessive Force? Do shots in the back imply excessive force?
- Alternatives to Lethal Force: A Phaser Set on Stun? Less-than-lethal weapons.
- Lethal Force Decisions When are you justified in using lethal force?
- Gun Safety and Self Defense How to avoid shooting the wrong person.
- We are Not Vigilantes Defend yourself against this accusation.
- The 10 Dumbest Things People Say about Using Guns for Self-Defense A self-explanatory title.
- The Gray Area . . . Does Every Bad Guy With a Gun Need to be Shot? Situations to not pull the trigger.
- Critical Incident Reactions - What if I Freeze? Many people fear this.
- Why Learn About Guns, If You Aren't Sure You Could Kill Someone? Knowledge first, then decision.
- Equip Yourself Like a Police Officer Police equipment has useful civilian alternatives.
- How to Find a Good Instructor Places to look, questions to ask.
- When Can You Shoot? (part 1) The fundamental rules of using lethal force.
- When Can You Shoot? (part 2) In two parts.
- Neighborhood Incident This may look similar to a recent Florida situation, but it is from 1996.
- O, Say Can You See? Tunnel Vision! How to minimize this under stress.
- He's Got a Gun! ... and you don't. What can you do?
- So, You Got Your CCW or whatever your state calls a carry license. What now?
- When Bad Gun Accidents Happen to Good Gun People A dropped gun's aftermath.
- Courtroom Survival A Chief of Police, defense attorney, and prosecutor adivse.
- Use of Force Quiz 20 questions for you to test yourself.
- A Girl And A Gun The backstory of a fabulous documentary film.
- The "W" Word: Warrior Some women hate it, some like it.
- Purse Carry - Do You? What? How? Lots of info about this popular method.
- Carrying while Carrying Advice for pregnant women.
- Your First Time: A Survey First time carrying a gun, that is.
- Murder and the Reasonable Woman Legal prof Cynthia Lee suggests changes to help abuse victims.
- Three Anti-Gun Women A film maker, the daugher of a shooter, and me.
- Serial Rapist on the Loose Wake-up call for women in my safe suburban neighborhood.
- Differences Between Men and Women Regarding Concealed Carry Aren't you curious about this?.
- Guns in Purses - Yes or No? Pros and cons of a very common practice.
- If You Are Being Stalked... Lots of info about stalkers and their victims.
- Stalking and Guns Surprising information from a government report about what stalking victims do.
- Defending Ourselves as We Mature Especially for senior citizens.
- Why is a Gun Like Red Lace Panties? Or a black thong. Why, indeed?
Tactics & Techniques
- Attention: No More Tunnel Vision Our attention during a crisis affects our other abilities.
- Foiling a Carjacking How to keep control of your wheels.
- The One Best Tactical Rule A shortcut for tactical planning.
- Shoot and Move, or Move and Shoot? Which should you do first, and why?
- Foiling a Carjacking If your child is in the car, or not.
- It's a Cinch Not to Flinch Does flinching plague your shooting? Here are some ways to cure it.
- Where Do You Aim? Where should you aim if shooting in self-defense?
- What Would You Do If ...? Someone wants to steal your purse, which contains your gun.
- No Light? No Problem! Many attacks happen at night.
- Two Fingers are Not Better than One Heavy revolver triggers can be dangerous.
- It Was a Dark and Rainy Night Bad things can happen in the dark.
- Using a Lockbox There is lots to know about these little safes.
- Improvised Weapons Turning ordinary objects into defense aids.
- Knife Attack! Knives can be as lethal as guns.
- Getting into a Car Car, keys, purse, gun; normal and high risk.
- How About Us Lefties? Left-handed equipment and techniques.
- A Series of Moral Problems The National Tactical Invitational is more than shooting.
- New Participants Learn Tactical Lessons More lessons from the NTI.Shoot / Don't Shoot
- Tough Questions Raised by the NTI Do you have the right answers?
- Moving, Hiding, Searching, Shooting Doing all that, indoors.
- Learning from Other People's Mistakes More from the NTI.
- Tactics for Couples What both should know, if one is armed.
- Shoot / Don't Shoot Research on how untrained people react.
- How to Get Some Courage Everyone could use a little more.
- Can You Recognize Hoplophobes and Furfies? and other unusual gun words.
- Accidents: Your Life Changes in an Instant Your defenses must change, too.
- Active Shooters What to do, what not.
- Mass Murders, Interrupted Actual and close call events.
- Ideas That Can Kill You Dangerous ideas, habits, and choices.
- More Ideas That Can Kill You Yes, even more of them.
- Self-Test Drills So you can see how good you really are.
The documents in this archive are copyrighted by the author. You may use, copy, and distribute it for academic, research, educational, and personal-use purposes only, without a fee, provided that:
- The above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies, and
- The author's, AWARE's and/or Women&Guns' names may not be used in any advertising or publicity relating to this document without the specific, prior, written permission of the author, and
- That no changes are made in this document. You may quote reasonable excerpts from this document provided the quotes do not misrepresent the author's position and both proper credit and citation are given.
If you wish to distribute or use this work in any way other than mentioned above, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org for prior permission.
By using or copying this document, you agree to abide by the copyright law and all other applicable laws of the U.S.
Possession and/or ownership of firearms is subject to various federal, state, and local restrictions. Those restrictions are subject to frequent change. It is your obligation to insure that you know the current law(s) that applies to you before buying, carrying, or using a firearm. Buying, carrying, or using a firearm without compliance with those laws is a crime and could result in criminal prosecution.. It is your legal responsibility to learn and obey the laws that apply in your area.
Neither the authors, AWARE and/or Women&Guns suggest that anyone purchase, maintain or use a firearm for any unlawful reason. We write expressly for the individual who uses many resources to explore the safety, moral, and legal issues surrounding firearms ownership and use.
Opinions expressed by the authors herein are not necessarily those of any organization. Articles cannot explore every aspect of a given topic; therefore, the reader is advised to consult local legal and law enforcement authorities for further information and clarification. Neither the author nor the publisher(s) are responsible for mishaps of any nature which might occur based on information, opinions, or recommendations contained herein.