By Laura Evans
For folks who make their living in the shooting industry, the efforts of the DC Project are especially important.
“While we’re busy operating our family-owned store and providing services to our community, it’s great to know there are women on the front lines of the gun-rights battle fighting for us,” said Jane Gustafson, owner of the Goods for the Woods retail store in Durango, Colo. “We’re always eager to hear what our delegate, Mia Anstine, has experienced when she visits lawmakers. She performs advocacy in Washington, D.C., and Denver that I simply can’t leave my business to accomplish.”
Educate yourself on where
candidates stand on issues important to
your lifestyle and livelihood. Tell others
what you learn and be vigilant.
The DC Project isn’t your typical activist group who chases after senators as they step into elevators and thrusts cameras in their faces.
“We behave with professionalism and courtesy when we sit in Congressional offices,” said Kelly Ann Pidgeon, Pennsylvania delegate, certified firearms instructor and owner of Armed and Feminine, a firearms training business. “Since we return every year and are committed to building lasting relationships with legislators who are both pro-gun and anti-gun, our efforts have been rewarded with invitations to testify before Congress and answer questions about pending gun laws and requests for real-world experiences from women who have suffered the unintended consequences of restrictive gun laws.”
Dianna Muller, who founded the DC Project in 2015, has remained steadfast in the organization’s mission.
“We’re women from all 50 states who visit face-to-face with legislators on Capitol Hill and share our experiences and reverence for the Second Amendment on behalf of all responsible gun owners,” she explained. “We present another side to the gun issue many in Washington haven’t faced. Our non-partisan approach encourages gun safety through education, and not more legislation.”
“With all the rhetoric floating around from anti-gun groups begging for lawmakers to ‘do something,’ the firearms community is ‘#doingsomething,’” Muller continued, “and we’re telling the country exactly who is behind the most effective gun-safety campaigns available. The firearms industry is loaded with programs that save lives through education. We’re tired of being presented as the ‘bad guys’ when it comes to keeping people safe, so we promote the initiatives developed by our industry’s experts like NSSF’s Project ChildSafe, NRA’s Eddie Eagle, Walk the Talk America’s mental health approach, Faster Saves Lives violence response training and more.”
Gun Rights Are Women’s Rights
Breaking stereotypes and delivering realism to the gun issue is key, suggests Jeanelle Westrom, Iowa delegate, and owner of Davenport Guns & Shooting Club.
“A lot of the folks we meet are surprised we’re firearms owners in the first place because we don’t fit the picture portrayed by mainstream media of gun-crazed extremists,” she shared.
The ladies of the DC Project represent the diversity of America with women from every state and every demographic imaginable.
“We’re a very diverse group that includes liberals and conservatives, teenagers and grandmas, professional competitive shooters and those new to the shooting sports, firearms instructors and gun dealers, immigrants and even Olympic athletes,” Westrom added. “Politicians are taking notice and recognize we’re not hostile, but we are well-trained and driven by facts. And because our mission is education, preservation and representation, we enjoy mutual respect.”
Many women who have survived violent crimes or have suffered personal tragedies join the DC Project’s delegation and educate lawmakers about the realities of gun legislation and the lack of freedom imposed by those laws.
“The time for sitting back and waiting for our
representatives to listen to their pro-Second
Amendment constituents is long past.
Cheryl Todd, Owner AZFirearms • Avondale, Ariz.
“Gun rights are women’s rights and women should be able to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Nikki Goeser, Tennessee delegate, and author of Stalked and Defenseless: How Gun Control Helped My Stalker Murder My Husband in Front of Me. “What good is owning a gun if you are legally prohibited from having it with you?” (Goeser was deprived of a chance to protect her husband and herself because she followed the law, left her gun behind and entered a gun-free zone. While she was disarmed, her husband’s killer was not.)
According to Cheryl Todd, Arizona delegate, host of Gun Freedom Radio and owner of the AZFirearms shop, “The time for sitting back and waiting for our representatives to listen to their pro-Second Amendment constituents is long past. It’s imperative we speak up and explain why we insist on no further infringements on our rights. We must educate lawmakers and help them understand their assumptions about gun owners are likely false,” she said.
Todd said the DC Project gives her perspective a voice in Washington.
“The mainstream media seems quick to forget all the ‘moms demanding action’ who wear the red shirts don’t speak for everyone, and they certainly don’t speak for me,” she stated.
“I Will Not Comply.”
The DC Project has enjoyed an uptick in volunteer involvement since Muller testified before Congress and told them “I will not comply” with a proposed assault weapons ban in Sept. 2019. Following her testimony and subsequent appearances on “Fox & Friends,” Muller is determined to bring awareness beyond the confines of Washington, D.C. and expand action and education to the state and local levels.
Ohio delegate, co-host of Eye on the Target Radio and founder of the non-profit Realize Firearms Awareness Coalition, Amanda Suffecool says, “We’re adding dynamic women from all over America to the DC Project every day at the state level, but it’s not enough. For us to be most effective, we must be present in as many places as Bloomberg-funded groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. Their combined operating budgets are more than $60 million for 2020, and we cannot compete with them unless we get help from our side. This means manufacturers, dealers, wholesalers and even average Americans need to step up their efforts by attending political events, rallies, meetings with their legislators or contributing to the efforts of the DC Project,” she asserted. “Understand for the women of the DC Project to have a presence where and when you can’t, we need help funding our own operating costs, travel and outreach efforts.”
Elections are looming in 2020, and not only at the presidential level. Local races can have a significant impact on Constitutional rights and how the Second Amendment is interpreted in your hometown. Just look at how things have played out in Virginia to see how tentative things are for the rest of the country.
Educate yourself on where candidates stand on issues important to your lifestyle and livelihood. Tell others what you learn and be vigilant. Know the women of the DC Project are determined to preserve the right to bear arms and will be wearing their teal-colored shirts in opposition to the red shirts.
Education. Preservation. Representation.
The DC Project Foundation stands upon three pillars. The first is education. Delegates have an opportunity to speak face-to-face with legislators, giving them information on educational and firearms-related topics. The second pillar is preservation, where DC Project encourages the preservation of America’s gun culture from conservation and commerce to competitive sports, hunting and self-defense. The third is representation. The DC Project highlights the diversity of gun owners and the rising female demographic. More women own guns in the U.S. than ever before. As Goesser states above: Gun rights are women’s rights.
Laura Evans is a New York delegate of the DC Project and owner of Silver Bullet Marketing, a consulting firm specializing in marketing and public relations for the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry.