10 Women Explain Why They Carry Guns

This story was originally published on April 27, 2016.

Jeniffer was looking for protection when traveling with her three children. Carrie wanted to feel safe during “dangerous” stops at used car lots and liquor stores. Alana felt it was important to continue a family tradition she remembered as a source of bonding.

For all three, the solution was buying a handgun. These Texas women, among others, are featured in Concealed, She's Got A Gun, a portrait series by photographer Shelley Calton.

Calton, who lives in Texas, said each woman she featured had a "unique backstory that has motivated her decision to carry a concealed weapon." Most had gone through training to obtain their licenses.

"Some of the women have had incidents in their past, and others have been threatened and they now feel the need to own a handgun for self-defense," Calton wrote in the artist statement accompanying the series. "Many of the women that I photographed grew up immersed in the Texas gun culture, and to them, guns are a form of cultural expression deeply embedded in a family tradition and passed on from generation to generation."

Calton acknowledges the tragic toll gun violence in America has on women. But she hopes her "startling" images provide a "glimpse into a subculture of Texas women that will not become victims."

"In an ideal world, [we] would be free from fear, and no one would need a gun," she wrote. "But in a society where the overwhelming majority of sexual assault and domestic violence is against women, these images portray women in a role of taking self-protection into their own hands."

Ahead, the portraits and stories of the women featured in Calton's project.
Advertisement
1 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
"I only carry a gun in my purse; it gives me a heightened awareness of my surroundings." — Brianna
2 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
"Growing up, my family enjoyed shooting. It was a tradition and a way of bonding." — Alana
Advertisement
3 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
"It’s not about fear; it’s about being prepared and taking responsibility for yourself. When asked what am I scared of, I smile and say, ‘What is there to be scared of when you carry a 38?'" — Alana
4 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
"The initial reason that I got my [concealed handgun license] was because of all the road trips back and forth from school to Texas with my guns…Being from Texas, everyone assumes that we are gun-wielding crazy rednecks, and this allows me the opportunity to show people that while, yes, most of us have guns, we are responsible about it." — Amy
5 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“I have always worked in ‘dangerous businesses’ — a used car and repossession business…I closed my liquor store because, even with the guns, it was really too dangerous…The guns make me feel safe and in power of my life…My sons know not to touch my guns — that they are dangerous. I stress gun safety.” — Carrie
6 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“My gun serves as my own personal militia of self-protection, perseverance, and badassery. Sleeping with my Glock under my mattress has afforded me more security than any door lock, alarm system, or boyfriend. And my alert dog, Scooby, helps too!” — Casey
7 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“My concern is for the safety of all women, especially realtors. God made us the weaker sex, but we do not have to be helpless…It’s simple; we need protection. Most of the time there is not a man around to do that.” — Donna
Advertisement
8 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“I have my own business, and I often have to travel on the road with my three children. Women are easy targets, and I don't want to find myself in this position. I want to be able to protect my family and myself.” — Jeniffer
9 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
"Growing up, my family participated in marksman competitions…I received my first gun from my grandfather, a Ruger Super Blackhawk, similar to the Dirty Harry gun…I keep guns pretty much within reach of me within my apartment…A gun is not a boost for my pride nor is it permission to be reckless, and it's an added mean of protection." — Katie
10 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“I inherited my grandfather’s holster and revolver.” — Lisa
11 of 11
Photo: Shelley Calton.
“I’m a home builder, real estate agent, and mom…I carry a 9mm Glock in my purse and my car…My husband sleeps better knowing that I have a gun to protect myself if need be." — Nicole
Advertisement

More from US News

Watch

R29 Original Series