On Tuesday the New Hampshire chapter of Second Amendment Sisters (SAS) announced that Epsom town coordinator and NRA instructor Margot Keyes will be the new State Coordinator. This comes right after this author had the chance to spend the day with SAS during one of their monthly shoots. SAS is an organization run by women for women. It “is a women's advocacy group dedicated to preserving the basic human right of self-defense, as recognized by the Second Amendment. We believe in personal responsibility, education, and enforcement of laws against violent criminals.”
Too often you hear anti-2nd Amendment groups talk about how ‘men only want guns to feel manly.’ SAS proves otherwise. It’s not about firearms; it’s about self-defense and the 2nd Amendment. As SAS states on their website “self-defense is a basic human right.” That human right includes woman and has absolutely nothing to do with being ‘manly.’ SAS was founded in 1999 by five women who wanted to fight against the anti-rights ‘Million Mom March’ who did not speak for them. They met on the internet and within 5 months had pulled together other women from across the country who agreed. The rest is history.
SAS has chapters across the country and an extremely active chapter right in New Hampshire. They hold monthly shoots at the Wilson Pistol Club (the club donates the time) which is open only for SAS during that time. They also have shoots at an outside range in the summer months - Elkins Fish and Game (who also donates the time). SAS shoots are open to all women who can also become members if they choose. Women don’t have to have their own firearms, SAS provides them along with ammo paid for by donations or sponsors. It gives women who always wanted to try shooting a chance to do so without the investment of purchasing their own firearm.
During their monthly shoot in April it was clear that the women who attend come from all walks of life. They ranged in age from 12 years old (the youngest official SAS member who’s Mom is an SAS coordinator and was in attendance) to ‘older’ with every age in between. The women represented those who had never shot a firearm before to those who have been shooting for years. They have multiple NRA certified coordinators who run the shoots. There are 1 to 2 safety training officers on the range at all times along with an NRA instructor. Not only do they make sure everyone is safe, they help new shooters along the way.
Before any woman is allowed to go to the range, they must take a safety training class from one of the NRA certified instructors. It doesn’t matter how many years a woman has been shooting, all must take the safety training class first so that SAS knows you’ve had the training. Last week the safety training instructor was Margot Keyes. Not only was she full of energy but she was informative, funny and kept the attention of everyone in the room (including those who had previously taken the training).
Often times women want to shoot but may feel intimidated learning with men. SAS instructors are patient, informative, understanding and wonderfully supportive of the women who attend the shoots. And they do it all with a sense of humor. Even if a woman is learning for the first time, she will not feel overwhelmed. Not one woman left the shoot without a smile on her face. During an interview with Margot Keyes she explained that sometimes women attend who are ‘anti-gun’ but are usually just anti-knowledge. Some women are very nervous when they first arrive but once they gain that knowledge their stance changes.
The 2nd Amendment is a right for all Americans, regardless of gender. Women especially benefit from protecting themselves. Keyes explained that she’s had women in wheelchairs attend shoots. These women can be some of the most vulnerable to criminals but not if they can protect themselves. Keyes makes the point that the police are not a 1:1 ratio and unless you have your own body guard you have to be your own body guard. Her and the SAS goal is to make women “comfortable, safe and skilled” in protecting themselves. Second Amendment Sisters prove guns aren’t just for guys because “self-defense is a basic human right.”