Female firearm instructor aims to train 1 million women

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As the number of female and minority gun owners continues to grow, one Georgia-based firearm instructor aims to teach black women how to shoot.

Marchell Tigner, owner of Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction, is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor whose personal mission is to provide training to 1 million women.

“It’s important, especially for black women, to learn how to shoot. We need to learn how to defend ourselves,” Tigner told the Associated Press, noting that black women are more likely to become victims of domestic violence.

According to her website, Tigner, whose love of firearms stemmed from spending seven years in the National Guard and later working at a firing range, started her company last year after she noticed a lack of representation for black women in the gun community. Tigner said she worked at a firing range and would often see women trying to learn how to use a firearm at the instruction of their significant others, something which, she said, made her uncomfortable.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe you can do something until you see someone who looks like you in that position,” Tigner noted.

Thus, Tigner’s firearm instruction company was formed.

As part of the training, Tigner provides plastic replicas to women as she goes over basic safety rules and proper stance, grip, and handling. The instruction then moves to the range where women learn to load a magazine and, finally, shoot the target.

“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells a student as they look over a bullet-riddled target during a recent class in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

The class was made up of about 20 women; some experienced with firearms, some not.

Jonava Johnson, 50, who attended the class, noted that gun ownership has also been rather frowned upon in the black community. Johnson admitted her own fear of guns, which stemmed from a domestic violence situation when she was just 17 years old. Johnson’s ex-boyfriend, armed with a gun, threatened her before he fatally shot Johnson’s new boyfriend in front of her.

About 30 years after she witnessed the death of her high school boyfriend, Johnson considered getting a gun after her daughter was sexually assaulted in their own home. Johnson instead decided to get a guard dog, but she’s now a proud gun owner.

“I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out,” Johnson said.

Tigner said it’s important for women to feel like they’re in control of their own safety.

“I’m just here to empower women and make sure that no one else becomes a victim,” she said.

 

Activist urges proper gun storage after grandson’s death

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A Louisville gun safety activist is encouraging gun owners to use gun locks and safely store their guns, an issue he’s taken all the more seriously since his grandson was fatally shot in January 2016.

Luther Brown, a retired construction worker and avid church goer, found his calling advocating gun safety after his neighbor was killed and her 2-year-old daughter severely wounded and blinded in one eye from a shooting in May 2006, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

His research into gun violence in Louisville led him to start the nonprofit educational program Little Hands Little Feet, which warns children to stay away from guns and urges adult gun owners to use gun locks and practice safe gun storage in order to prevent accidental shootings.

Brown has given away more than 500 gun locks at events around the West Louisville community where he resides, and hopes to get a gun lock in every house.

“Not every dope dealer is gonna want to use a gun lock,” Brown said. “But the mamas of the dope dealers sometimes insist on it. They know there are children in the house; they know how children are curious. It’s the mamas who come back to me sometimes and ask for a lock. If we can get locks on even a few of the guns out there, then you know what? At least that’s something.”

Brown knows all too well what it’s like for a family member to be killed in an accidental shooting. On Jan. 9, 2016, his 8-year-old grandson Andre O’Neal Jr. was accidentally shot and killed at a family barbecue.

The man responsible for the shooting, 21-year-old Elgin Anders, allegedly dropped the gun by accident when it fired and struck the child.

“We was grilling and everything. I came out to the grill. I had barbecue sauce on my fingers. I licked the sauce off my fingers. It just slipped right out of my fingers,” Anders told WDRB-TV.

Anders has been charged with reckless homicide and the case is still ongoing. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison, but Brown doubts Anders will stay in prison for even that long.

“That man might go to prison for a year for killing Baby Dre,” he said.

“The problem is, we don’t take these deaths seriously. People leave their guns out, bam, a child is dead, but it’s just an accident. People drop their guns, bam, a child is dead, but it’s just an accident. You were careless and now a child is dead, but hey, we won’t charge you with a crime, we think you’ve suffered enough. If we charge you with anything, maybe you get a year.”

After his grandson’s death, Brown continued his gun safety programs, and was even invited to attend the funeral of another boy who had been shot and killed by his 11-year-old brother when playing with a loaded handgun left unlocked in their home.

At the funeral, Brown handed out gun locks and gun safety pamphlets, a day he said he would take with him to his grave.

While Brown has vowed to keep up his efforts in Louisville, other gun safety programs are also trying to make a difference around the country.

One such program — Project ChildSafe, sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation — recently teamed up with the San Angelo Police Department in Texas to raise awareness about safe gun ownership in the community.

According to an SAPD news release, free gun locks and safety kits will be available for pickup at Police Headquarters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tennessee cities comply with new law allowing guns on buses

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Tennessee cities are working to implement a new law that allows handgun permit holders in the state to carry their firearms onto public transportation.

The Associated Press reported that Tennessee’s four major cities — Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis — intend to comply with the law, which took effect July 1, but have so far posted vaguely worded rules that may leave riders confused as to what the policy actually is.

Transit authorities in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga put the onus on riders to educate themselves on who’s allowed to carry guns, while Memphis authorities are still revising the wording of their policies but have begun allowing permit holders to carry firearms.

Nashville has changed its transit system’s code of conduct to only ban weapons that are “unauthorized,” but does not mention the new law.

Chattanooga’s revised transit policy mentions the law without explaining what it actually means in practice, while Knoxville signs were changed with similarly vague wording.

Lisa Maragnano, Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority executive director, implied such wording was purposeful.

“We will comply with the law, we won’t encourage it,” she said in an email.

The new law, backed strongly by the National Rifle Association and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in May, calls for cities and counties to either install metal detectors and post security guards at public facilities or allow lawful gun owners with handgun permits to carry their firearms.

The measure will also provide lawful gun owners with a private cause of action to challenge local firearms rules they feel are not being implemented properly.

While gun control advocates claim it could endanger the lives of commuters, gun rights advocates argue the law will have just the opposite effect by letting lawful gun owners carry their firearms as protection against those with criminal intentions.

Tanika Mallory Blast NRA over Philando Castile shooting

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NRA spokeswoman comments on Philando Castile shooting (VIDEO)

A National Rifle Association spokeswoman said the comments she made this week on the death of Philando Castile, a black man killed by police after disclosing he had legal concealed weapon during a traffic stop, was the organization’s official stance.

“ILoesch made the appearance to defend comments she made in an NRA membership video against critic Tamika Mallory, president of the Women’s March, who appeared alongside her on CNN. Mallory had penned a letter asking the NRA to retract Loesch’s video because it “appear(s) to be a direct endorsement of violence” against people, especially those of color, for exercising their right to free speech. She also requested the NRA, as a civil rights organization, defend Castile’s Second Amendment rights and demand justice for him.

Shortly after the incident last July, the NRA as an organization released an official statement calling Castile’s death “troubling” and that it would “have more to say once all the facts are known.” Loesch has been the only NRA representative to give an official statement since then.

Yanez said he thought Castile was a robbery suspect when he stopped the vehicle. Castile informed Yanez that he had a legal concealed weapon and began reaching for his wallet, but Yanez mistakenly thought Castile was reaching for a gun, so he opened fire.

 

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