San Diego Firearms Club Aims At Making Women Responsible Gun Owners
San Diego County Gun Owners launched the initiative Not Me SD, two years ago.
It’s a program focused on helping women protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Not Me SD is our initiative to stop domestic violence and sexual assault,” Wendy Hauffen, Not Me SD director said.
Each woman who goes through the training is paired with a female mentor who teaches them everything from learning how to shoot a gun, to gun safety, as well as the steps it takes to apply for a conceal carry weapons permit.
“What we’re doing is leveraging our expertise as gun owners to be able to help increase women's ability to stop domestic violence and sexual assault,” Hauffen said.
Domestic violence help
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit them online
Hauffen said the program stemmed from her own experience.
“I didn't know where to start or what to do there are just so many questions to ask, even figuring out what to ask is complicated,” she said.
She said the program sparked even more interest during the pandemic.
“We definitely saw a huge increase during the pandemic, women who were on the fence of ownership, realized they needed to take their safety into their own hands.”
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Following a global pandemic and political unrest, 2020 saw the biggest increase in gun sales.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates 8.4 million people bought a firearm for the first time last year. Nearly half of those buyers were women.
Hauffen said it’s women from all walks of life that are wanting to learn about gun ownership.
“We have young women in their early 20s, we have older women who are in their 80s who are living alone and really need to be able to protect themselves,” said Hauffen.
In just two years, Not Me SD has helped 320 women become gun owners and that number is expected to grow.
Janine Abdallah joined Not Me SD because she feels like she needs an extra source of protection. She'd been wanting to buy a gun for awhile.
After hearing about Not Me SD she decided it was time to learn more about firearms.
“More women should take more steps to protect themselves and be at least comfortable being around firearms and I don't think nowadays enough women are,” she said.
Melissa Morris, a firearm instructor and mentor for the program says it’s all about arming women with knowledge and empowerment.
“I see their fear diminish, their confidence increase, and their skill level improve,” Morris said.
Morris said it’s not uncommon for women to be nervous about gun ownership, especially when they’re coming out of a domestic violence relationship.
Deputy District Attorney and president of the Domestic Violence Council, Claudia Grasso, said there was a 3% increase in domestic violence cases last year.
That’s more than 17,600 cases reported to law enforcement in just one year.
“We fear that as we open up more and more we are going to get those victims that are going to report those cases that happened during the shutdown, but they were not able to report and were in essence trapped in the home,” Grasso said.
Although self defense isn’t one of the main focal points of the Domestic Violence Council, they do provide resources to help victims overcome their trauma.
“Leap to success is one. That is empowerment classes, not necessarily self defense, but empowerment to say this is what I want,” Grasso said.
She also encourages victims to have a safety plan: like carrying a cellphone and having a safety word in case you need help.
For women wanting an extra source of protection, Not Me SD welcomes those who want to use a gun.
“If you don't even want to own a firearm, but you just think it would be helpful for you to learn how to safely operate one, then that is the perfect place to learn that,” Morris said.
Those interested in learning more about the free program can visit Not Me SD.