The coronavirus pandemic has driven record-breaking numbers of gun sales in the United States. Many of the millions of guns sold have gone to first-time gun buyers.
In response, gun rights advocates are focusing on safety training to make sure new gun owners understand how to operate their firearms.
We reached out to My Sister’s Keeper Defense, a Black woman owned firearms training business owned by Marchelle “Tig” Washington to find out more about her business and her thoughts on gun ownership.
How did you become interested in becoming a gun owner?
I was in the Army National guard and got comfortable with the idea of carrying a handgun everyday while I was deployed. I didn’t take start consistently practicing on my own until 2015 when I started working at a gun range in Atlanta.
I’m a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. Carrying and shooting firearms is my therapy. I’m comforted knowing that I don’t have to be a victim anymore because I know I can defend myself.
What inspired you to start a firearms training business?
While working at the gun range, women would come ask me to train them. I taught a ton of private lessons and group classes. I wanted the ability to create my own curriculum and market my own classes so I quit the range and started my business.
What is the question you get the most from your trainees?
Most of my students ask me what firearm they should buy. I explain to them that there’s no such thing as a “girl gun” or a gun that’s good for new shooters. Any person can learn how to operate any firearm.
I want us to get away from associating genders to firearms. Choosing a firearm is like choosing a car, it really just depends on your preferences. The only way to decide what you prefer in a firearm is to take a class and then shoot different firearms.
What are some of the biggest myths about gun owners?
The biggest myth is that we’re all Republican, Christian, NRA supporters. I’m none of those things and neither are the majority of my students. That might have been true 20-30 years ago but in 2020 gun ownership and self defense is for everyone.
What is your advice for someone who is interested in becoming a gun owner?
Don’t buy a firearm you’ve never shot and continue to practice shooting as often as you can. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility and a lifestyle change. It’s irresponsible to buy a firearm intended for self defense if you’re not going to continue practicing and taking classes.
Going to the range, purchasing ammunition, and buying firearms accessories can get pretty expensive but how much is your life worth?
How has your business been affected in the past few months due to the coronavirus epidemic?
My business hasn’t been affected at all. I’m teaching classes ever few weeks.
-Tony O. Lawson