Well-Armed Women influence on local, national levels

The idea for The Well-Armed Woman was born when Carrie Lightfoot began working in a rough part of town and her youngest child was headed off to college.

“So there was that wake-up moment where I felt vulnerable,” said Lightfoot, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

She set out to learn how to protect herself, and learned to shoot a gun. Having grown up in New York, it was something new, but she took to it quickly. Still, there were roadblocks in the process.

“There was nothing that spoke to me as a woman with the questions that I had, and the concerns that I had,” she said. “What I found was either very condescending, and ‘Here, let me tell you what you need, little lady,’ or it was oversexualized. Both ends of that spectrum were very frustrating for me.”

And Lightfoot is not one to sit back and let life happen to her.

“So I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve had businesses before, and that part of it didn’t scare me,” she said. “So that day driving away from the range, the idea of this company came into my head.”

Lightfoot said she knew there had to be a need out there for women who want to learn responsibly, and without having to feel talked-down to.

“I knew someone needed to create something that was respectful and comprehensive for women and spoke directly to our needs,” she said. “The response was unbelievable. I knew that there were a lot of women like me, I knew I wasn’t the only weird one.”

The Well-Armed Woman now has 222 chapters in 49 states, including four in Mississippi.

One of those chapters, based in Raymond, is led by Kim Condon, the owner of Boondocks Firearms Training Facility.

Condon had her wake-up moment just after the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, when she realized she wanted to be able to take care of herself if her life, or the lives of those she loves are threatened. That epiphany eventually gave birth to Boondocks, which she owns with her husband, Mark.

Over the weekend, Lightfoot and Condon teamed up for a TWAW Instructors Training Course. That was actually, according to one website, the convergence of two of the most powerful pro-gun women in the country.

According to conservative site NewsMax.com’s list of the 100 most influential pro-gun rights advocates, a list that includes people like the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Oliver North, and Chuck Norris, just to name a few, Condon and Lightfoot are numbers 80 and 81, respectively. That’s a little fact the two women good-naturedly rib each other about.

“We’re not talking about that,” Lightfoot said, laughing.

In all seriousness, Lightfoot said, the list is an interesting study in the shift of power in the world of firearms.

“It’s cool because it means women are growing in influence because the women who are on that list are more like political or entertainers or whatever, so to me it means that people are listening, and that women are listening, and it’s a reflection of women being influential is how I took it,” Lightfoot said.

Both Lightfoot and Condon said they’re not sure exactly what criteria went into the list, but both take it as a compliment and an honor.

“You have the celebrities and everyone knows their name, but if you’re not in the firearms industry, you don’t know Massad Ayoob and Buzz Mills and some of these names,” Condon said.

Ayoob, a world-famous firearms instructor and author, and Mills, the owner and operator of Gunsite Academy, were numbers 83 and 88.

It makes the vision seem a little clearer, the women said. The aim of both of their undertakings has been to educate people, particularly women, to make the decisions and take on the responsibility of self-protection through firearms if that’s their choice in life. Lightfoot said the outreach is to women of all different kinds.

“We have women literally of all ages and even political backgrounds, which I didn’t expect. Different economic levels, everything,” she said. “The only common denominator is the desire to protect ourselves. We used to be the protected gender. We’re not anymore. Our world has changed, more of us are single, and traveling out and about in a world that can be really nasty and really scary.”

Being one of those voices is a calling in itself, Condon said.

“I feel like it gives me more of a responsibility. I’ve gotten traction, in its own way, and now it’s a duty for me,” Condon said. “I had my own little world… I had my own thing going, then this happened, and now it’s like wow. This is big.”

“That’s what drives me,” Lightfoot said. “If I can get someone to think about something differently or consider something differently, that is satisfying.”

Contact Therese Apel at tapel@gannett.com. Follow @TRex21 on Twitter.

Article source: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/08/02/well-armed-women-influence-local-national-levels/31039899/