Skip to comments.Massachusetts Women Find Unexpected Home at Firing Range
Posted on 05/19/2002 12:46:42 PM PDT by Pyro7480
Massachusetts Women Find Unexpected Home at Firing Range
Experts Say Women Showing Increasing Interest in Gun-Related Groups, Magazines
By JUSTIN POPE
.c The Associated Press
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (May 16) - All week, college student Sabrina Clark looks forward to blowing off some steam in an unexpected place.
Other Mount Holyoke College undergraduates might find relief from their studies in a bar or a gym. Clark finds it at the local firing range.
``It's definitely like a meditation,'' Clark, 20, said between rounds from a 9 mm handgun. ``I do long-distance running and I hate it. This is much more stress-relieving.''
Women are increasingly visible in the gun rights movement, experts say, showing increasing interest in gun groups and magazines such as Women and Guns.
When the first college chapter of the Second Amendment Sisters national gun rights group first appeared at Mount Holyoke, it attracted plenty of attention at the all-women, liberal arts college.
``Most members of the Mount Holyoke community, and I throw graduates into that category, tend to be pro-gun control and on the opposite side of the fence politically from Second Amendment Sisters on this issue,'' said college spokesman Kevin McCaffrey. But, he added, ``I think there is a commitment here to exploration of political issues and to free speech.''
The Sisters group claims 50 members at the 2,000-student college about 100 miles west of Boston. It's an eclectic group, ranging from conservative activists to libertarians to unabashed liberals who simply like the feel of firing a gun.
``The only thing conservative about me is my makeup,'' said member Simone Cornielle Irzarry. She grew up around guns and believes law-abiding citizens should have a right to carry them.
Members shoot for sport, attend safety workshops and conduct public education. Some campaign to loosen gun laws.
The group's presence has prompted sharp exchanges in the student newspaper and on e-mail discussion groups.
Acting college President Beverly Daniel Tatum had to issue a statement to reassure alumnae that the group doesn't carry guns on campus, which would violate state law.
Opinions differ on whether the group stands on the vanguard or rear guard of feminism.
``The Second Amendment and being able to carry a firearm for self-defense if you so choose is a very empowering thing for a woman,'' said Sisters national spokeswoman Maria Heil.
And, she added, the chapter's success shows that support for gun rights ``cuts across the political spectrum, it cuts across religious lines, it even cuts across gender and sexuality lines.''
But some on campus say Sisters is hijacking the language of feminist empowerment and betraying the cause.
``You can't achieve power by using guns,'' said Jean Grossholtz, an emeritus professor at the college and chair of the women's studies program. ``When women can take their rightful place in the world as who they are, not as little make-believe men, that's women's liberation.''
Gary Mehalik, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation in New Town, Conn., said gun sales figures aren't broken down by gender. However, efforts to make women feel more comfortable with guns are paying off across the country, he said.
Christie Caywood, a 21-year-old junior originally from Waurika, Okla. who founded the Sisters branch at Mount Holyoke last year, spends 20 hours a week on Sisters business. She's attracted a wide variety of students.
``Sometimes the diversity of opinions and people surprises even me,'' Caywood said. She calls herself a ``libertarian/Republican,'' but said the majority of members are left-leaning. Strangely, there's been little crossover with the College Republicans, a similarly sized group whose e-mail list Caywood also manages.
Except for the subject matter, a recent Sisters meeting sounded much like a get-together for any other college club. Topics included scheduling the next trip to the range, how to spend the gift certificate they received for appearing on a radio talk-show, and planning field trips to a gun show and a rally.
After the meeting, the group headed to the range at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Academy in nearby Springfield, where the Sisters greeted the staff and pondered which weapons to use for the evening.
After 50 rounds, the kick from the gun left Clark's fingers sore but overall she felt refreshed. She retrieved the target and inspected the bullet holes.
``I'm happy with that,'' she said, pronouncing it good enough to add to the collection on her dorm room wall.
05/16/02 02:21 EDT
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.
Shooting, whether firearms or archery, is a very meditative endeavor.
It teaches breath control, patience and responsibility.
Ought to be mandatory in the Primary Schools.
From the Mount Holyoke website: A really strong feminist Professor of politics and women's studies Jean Grossholtz won a silver medal at the 1994 Gay Games, and considered training for the 1998 games as a wrestler. She still works out in Kendall several times a week.
Y'know, I don't consider a woman body-builder/wrestler to be a "make-believe man." But she's in no position to give that description to any woman.
Gotta admit, that's one heck of a body for a woman in her late 60s... Just about any age, come to think of it.
I'm sure that they'll all be very relieved to know that their campus has been officially designated as a defenseless-victim zone.
We're all safer when the bad guys don't know who's carrying and who's not.
Maybe someone should remind the professor of the achievement of power by the Nazi party of the 1930's, Idi Amin's human rights violating government of Uganda in the 70's and of course, the women oppressing Taliban.
She's delusional to think that guns, in the sense of the Second Amendment, are an attempt to achieve power.
Criminals will prey on the weak.
Firearms cancel out the physical disparity between criminals and would be victims.
All power comes from the barrel of a gun