Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thanks TD! Chicago Tribune Coverage of "Babes with Bullets"

We all know and appreciate TD Roe - she's given a lot of us aspiring to get better tips and honest assessment. So, in addition to being a huge influence on a lot of us, TD had a huge part in brining Deb Ferns and Kay Miculek's S&W sponsored "Babes with Bullets" women's shooting camp to the Chicago area!

The icing on top of a cake called "a job well done" is Chicago Tribune reporter John Kass' coverage of the event -
Please see http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0714-20110714,0,7101950.column for original story.



Babes with Bullets and other women who believe the Constitution applies in Illinois


John Kass
July 14, 2011

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a concealed carry bill late last week, making Wisconsin the 49th state to allow trained, law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed firearms.

And this means that Illinois is the only state without such a law. In Illinois, our Chicago aldermen can carry guns in their purses and even in ankle holsters, and criminals obviously carry guns, since breaking the law is what they do.

But the rest of us, the chumbolone law-abiding taxpayers, can't carry.

John Kass

I'm not desperate to carry a gun, but the fact that Illinois has exempted its citizens from the Individual Rights Sweepstakes is so constitutionally depressing that there's only one sight that could cheer me up:

A few dozen women with Smith & Wesson handguns learning how to get lethal, with the help of top female shooters and instructors in firearm safety.

And so I spent a recent afternoon with a group called Babes with Bullets, hosted by the Oak Park Sportsmen's Club in Plainfield, where sisters, mothers, daughters and friends learned how to shoot safely and well.

They ranged in ages from their 20s to their mid-60s. And what struck me was how serious they were about learning.

"I'm a secretary and work for accountants," said Diane McGrath, as she filled the magazine of her Smith & Wesson 9 mm M&P (Military and Police) handgun with bullets.

"My husband shoots," McGrath said. "And all my bosses are hunters. And I heard about Babes with Bullets and thought, 'What the heck is that?' I couldn't pass it up."

Deb Ferns, of Tucson, Ariz., is one of the co-founders of Babes with Bullets. And while we took a break from the shooting range, I asked her the simple question: Why?

"I was 45 and I never shot a gun, but the kids left for college and my husband was traveling and I was alone in the house and we live off in the country. And you know what? I heard all the creaking. Every creak. And I thought, I'm going to take control.

"So I went shooting. And I learned that a gun is a tool and to respect it. And so I started shooting, competitively, in matches. And I got hooked. What we want is for women to get involved."

Ferns says that while there are guns in many households, the guns most likely are the province of the male. And that the women of such households often don't know a thing about them.

"Is that smart, or good?" Ferns asked. "All these households with guns, and the women don't know anything about firearms? Is that a good thing? Of course not."

More than 2,000 women have gone through the Babes with Bullets camps, and most are first-time or novice shooters who show up with their relatives, like members of the Runkle, Boyll and Busso families, from Indiana and Michigan.

Analise Busso came with her mother, Melanie. They live in Valparaiso.

"But I think you're mistaken about concealed carry in Illinois. Are you sure it's outlawed?" Analise asked.

Yes, I'm sure. Our Gov. Pat Quinn won't allow it.

"But I get the news out of Chicago, and every night people in Chicago are carrying weapons, aren't they?" she asked, feigning confusion.

Yes, I said.

Happily, sarcasm is not dead.

A few minutes later, I watched the smart-alecky Analise and her cousins out on the firing range with top instructors, serious champion instructors like Lisa Munson and T.D. Roe, of Lemont, who teaches personal protection shooting.

And there was Kay Miculek, of Louisiana, another co-founder of Babes with Bullets. From now on, when I think of a serious person, I'll think of her.

Miculek has many national titles, and her husband, Jerry, is one of the top shots. She's middle aged, and I liked the way she worked with the young women, calm but serious, because what they were doing was serious.

She had them stand properly, weight balanced. She made sure no one touched the trigger until each shooter was ready to fire a round. There was no joking, no bravado, no posturing.

With women like Kay Miculek, you could tell that a gun was a tool that does not forgive. In her hands, it was only a gun, not a symbol.

"We're working with beginners, and this is all about safety," she told me. "We're working to get their feet right, to have them be comfortable out here. To learn. And safety, safety, safety."

Marie Bonter, of Paw Paw, Mich., was one of the young women in Miculek's group.

"My dad's in law enforcement," she said. "He likes the fact that I'm getting good instruction. I know how to shoot. I grew up with it. But I haven't worked on handguns for a while. I want to do this the right way."

They were serious women, taxpaying women, law-abiding moms and sisters and daughters and friends.

And they're the women who have the audacity to believe that the Constitution applies to them, too, even in Illinois.

jskass@tribune.com



Three cheers and tiger for TD!