In the past nine years, concealed carry permits for women have increased 270 percent, according to one study by Crimesearch. And as this demographic becomes a unifying force, certain challenges have arisen and must be addressed if women are to carry safely and with confidence.
Carrie Lightfoot, owner and founder of The Well Armed Woman , often guides women through the process of carrying and her website provides assistance as well. “I recommend women individually consider four important areas to develop their own Personal Concealed Carry System,” she said. “It is a system of these four things working together that makes for safe and effective concealed carry. All four areas must be looked at in depth: Her gun, her body, her clothing and her holster options.”
For many women, fashion is a mode of expression and most would say women have many more clothing options than men. Yet when it comes to concealed carry, men have a simpler time of it. “Style is important to women, so finding creative and versatile concealed carry holster options are a must to accomplish this.” Lightfoot said. Because women’s clothing styles can change on a daily basis, it is important for women to have options. “There are holsters that attach to the bra, around the waistband and that can be carried under the arm to take advantage of the natural hiding spot that a woman’s breasts offer. Thigh holsters are another option women can utilize when wearing dresses and skirts. Concealed carry purses may work when clothing styles are more fitted and less able to cover the firearm.” It’s important to remember that just because a holster appears feminine (i.e. colors, designs), doesn’t mean it’s a quality option for women. More women who are part of the concealed carry movement are getting involved in making more fashionable concealed carry options for women and demanding more choices, as well.
Along with varied clothing styles, a woman’s curves or lack of them can pose challenges to the concealed carry of a firearm. Larger, curvier women can have some challenges with accessing the firearm and thin, less curvy women can have issues with being able to hide the firearm under their clothing. Women with young children in their arms throughout the day must also find ways to carry without sacrificing unwanted access to the firearm, according to Lightfoot.
None of these should be considered obstacles, rather, they are workable challenges in a search to find the right method of concealment. Resources specifically for women shooters are not plentiful, though they are available. As women have gained a foothold in this marketplace, manufacturers, retailers, and organizations are taking heed. This momentum will only build as women continue to take the initiative to explore the realm of gun ownership.