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Advice & More October 2016

Vintage Vibes

Gun‑totin’ Grannies

By Elaine Marze

One night a car stayed on her bumper for miles, trying to force her off the road several times. She had to keep accelerating until finally she held her pistol up where the other driver could see it. The car dropped back, way back. This was just one of the situations where Cora Sue believed a firearm protected her life.

Gun‑control can be a volatile subject, but that is not the topic of this story. The harsh reality is that seniors are often thought of as easy prey for criminals, especially “little old ladies.” But, bad guys better beware because some grandmas are more than willing and capable of using weapons to protect themselves.

Real estate agent, Brenda Tindall learned how to shoot a gun when she was 10 years old. She and her brother used to shoot snakes swimming in a nearby bayou. When she was 15, Brenda’s daddy gave her a .22 rifle (Remington 66), and guns have remained a part of her life ever since.

The dangers of her profession became clear when a fellow realtor was murdered by a man posing as a home buyer. As a result, Brenda and a group of like‑minded realtors took self‑defense courses and got permits to carry concealed weapons. She is a senior and wears big rings and high heels to give her an edge in case she has to fight off an attacker. “And, I carry a .38 Special (no safety), and I would not blink an eye about using it to protect myself if I were threatened,” says Tindal. “Just because you are a granny doesn’t mean you stop fighting for what you believe is right.”

Joyce Watson’s husband Jim was an LTC in the Tennessee Army National Guard when he died from cancer, but early in their marriage he bought her a .38 Special and insisted she learn how to handle, shoot and clean it because he was away much of the time, leaving her and their children alone. She keeps it in her night stand drawer, and occasionally carries it in her purse depending on when and where she is going. Joyce has a concealed carry permit. “My children are grown and gone. I sleep better knowing I can protect myself,” she says.

Sheriff Harold Terry taught Cora Sue Blair of Louisiana how to shoot and safely use a firearm. “I own a rifle and three pistols,” explained Cora Sue. “One pistol I carry in my car in a leather‑padded gun case. One, a ‘Saturday night special,’ stays in a drawer of the night stand beside my bed. My favorite, a Cobra Colt, I keep either under my pillow or beneath a cover in a chair beside my bed.”

Blair’s home had been burglarized, and she had property stolen from her storage buildings. Before retirement, she was in the advertising business and often traveled at night. One night a car stayed on her bumper for miles, trying to force her off the road several times. She had to keep accelerating until finally she held her pistol up where the other driver could see it. The car dropped back, way back. This was just one of the situations where Cora Sue believed a firearm protected her life.

Sylvia Norton took gun lessons from the sheriff’s department because of a rash of robberies in her neighborhood. Her military veteran husband bought her a .38 Smith & Wesson. Sylvia, now a widow, says she does not enjoy shooting it, but should the situation arise where she needed to, she knows how.

Shelia Rogers is hearing impaired and worked as a secretary in a church that had been burglarized more than once. She took a gun safety class to get a carry permit. “The class was great. My gun was the biggest!” she says. With her big .45 she ‘about blew the heart’ out of her paper target so she says the deputies let her try out a shotgun on the head of the target. She took the shredded remains home for a souvenir.

Donna Rambo, a grandmother of three, travels back and forth between her home in Arkansas and job in Louisiana so she feels more comfortable traveling with a firearm. She is the wife of a retired military man, daughter of a World War II veteran, and two of her sons have distinguished themselves in military careers.  “I have always been an avid supporter and believer in the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” said Rambo. “I believe everyone should learn to use a firearm, whether it be a handgun, rifle or shotgun. Not only should you learn for your own protection; but for the protection of your loved ones as well.”

Merrily Ward lives in a rural Arkansas community and says she got her concealed carry permit because, “This world is scary with crime and violence. It’s better to have a gun for protection than not to have one in case something happens.”

State laws vary regarding carrying firearms. The requirement for a concealed carry permit includes a one‑day course unless a person meets specific requirements such as prior military or law enforcement experience and can provide documentation to such.

Unfortunately police cannot magically appear at all the right moments. There are areas of this country where violent crimes are common, and gun‑toting grannies believe that survival may depend on having the means to protect themselves and their families. There is general acknowledgment among law enforcement that more women are carrying weapons these days. It is legal and within their rights for law‑abiding people (those not prohibited from carrying guns because of felony convictions, etc.) though there are proper ways to do so.

Interested citizens should contact their local sheriff’s office for information on personal safety and firearms courses. But in the meantime, don’t take for granted that white hair and a few wrinkles make a woman an easy target for abuse!

 

Elaine Marze is the author of "Widowhood: I Didn't Ask for This" which is not your typical sweet, spiritual grief book but is used by numerous counselors and grief groups because of its reality-based honesty.

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