Wednesday, January 11, 2012


By: Tara Janzen

Four years ago, one of the local newspapers interviewed a gun shop owner in our town. It was a great article, up until two-thirds of the way down, where the owner told a story about a woman coming into his shop, wanting to buy a gun. Problem was, she didn’t know anything about guns, but she wanted one. As the gun shop owner talked with the woman, he started getting the idea that she was a little nervous about buying and owning a firearm, so in her best interests, he said to the reporter, he advised her not to buy a gun. (insert dead silence here)

Right. Guns are for guys only. Or guns are only for people who already know about guns. WRONG, and doubly wrong because it was a woman who got turned away. Even nervous, she hauled herself down to the gun shop and into a situation where she knew she was in over her head – and she walked away with a pat on the head, and no gun.

The question in my mind has always been – “What made her think she needed a gun?” And the answer, 99.9 times out of a 100 with a woman who is not already a shooter, is – “She thought she needed to defend herself.” And if she thought she needed to defend herself, she DID need to defend herself. A situation in her life, or someone in her life, was making her feel threatened, and she instinctively knew, probably without being able to put it in these words, that NOTHING LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD LIKE A .45.

That woman made the right decision to go and buy a gun. Unfortunately, she went to the wrong gun shop. If she’d gone to Colorado Gun Works, she would have walked out with a lot of knowledge, suggestions for shooting classes, a few dozen stories about women the guys at the shop know who shoot a lot, and an introduction to those women, if she’d wanted it. She would have been shown a number of guns for her to buy, and been encouraged to handle those guns, and she would have been shown how to safely handle those guns. The guys would have made her feel right at home, right there in that bastion of firepower and testosterone – Colorado Gun Works. Most importantly, she would have walked out with a gun, the right gun, feeling darned confident about her decision to buy it, and she would know that if she had any questions later, she had a place to come and get answers.

When I walked into Colorado Gun Works the first time, I was there to do research. I had already written CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and realized I needed to learn something about all these guns my characters were shooting. At the time I had never even seen a handgun, except in the movies, and had certainly never shot one.

Fast forward six years later, and I own one rifle with glass to make a grown man weep (yep, it’s that good), two shotguns, three revolvers, and three semi-automatic pistols – and I shoot all of those guns, and yes, I’ve got my eye on a couple more.

More importantly, I have a new mindset about self-defense, and it starts and stops with three words – WINNING THE FIGHT.

All of this is thanks to Colorado Gun Works. From the Boss Man, to the guys behind the counter, to the OBB, as the Diva calls him (I usually just go with BB, for Big Bad) everyone at CGW has had a profound effect on my life. I’ve shot a few 1000 yard matches, and won once – which made me intensely famous among a very small group of people. I have the score sheet and the cash winnings from that day on display in my office.

Now the Boss Man is leaving, taking the shop with him, and the sense of loss is huge and complicated. For a lot of folks, myself included, the shop has been a home away from home. Many of us practically lived there. The welcome was always warm, the gun talk always fascinating, even if sometimes so arcane I couldn’t figure out what in the world everybody was talking about. The Boss Man has an encyclopedic knowledge of guns, absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen him stumped no matter what comes through the front door. He also has a special way of creating community. The shop is the Boss Man, with a warm welcome, a warm smile, and easy conversation – though be warned, he can hear everything that’s being said in the room, even while he’s talking to somebody else, and sometimes when he asks questions, you are quickly reminded that he used to be a cop.

He’s going home, setting up shop in a place where he has deep roots, and from the bottom of my heart, I am wishing him and his family well, wishing him all the best of life. His old stomping grounds look like a great place to live, and I know he’s glad to be moving back.

But what are the rest of us going to do without our home base? Like the Diva said, mourn, spend more time on the range and less time sitting at the counter, take each other’s phone numbers and work at keeping in touch, and try, so help me God, not to spend too much time leaning up against the front door on the empty building and wishing like hell that we could still get inside.

Yeah, let’s try not to do too much of that.

Don't forget about the give-away at A Girl and Her Gun.


agirlandhergun said...


I agree with 100%. Training is good. Know how to use a gun is good, but Cranky Chic's sister in law is a good example why it's better to have a gun then not to.

Plus, as you pointed out, if she doesn't know how, then teacher her. Don't just send her on her way.

tara said...

Yep, well said "A girl and her gun." The Diva and I have a passion for arming women and teaching them how to shoot.

CG said...

Do you have any suggestions of books, magazines, or websites that offer "gun basics". I am baffled by all the different types of guns and ammunition. Where is a good place to start doing some research for the total newbie?

tara said...

Hi CG - I started with gun magazines and gun catalogs,(tons of these at newspaper stands and bookstores) then I found the shop and started taking classes. I also suggest that you go to all your local gun shops and sporting goods stores that sell guns and ask the people at the counter what kind of handgun, or shotgun, or rifle they would recommend for you based on what you need and want. Then just listen, don't buy. After a few of those excursions, you'll start to get a feel for what kind of gun you might want to buy, and also where you want to buy. Also ask if they recommend any local teachers or classes. Also call any local gun ranges, indoor and outdoor, and ask who teaches at their range and what classes are offered. You'll get a feel for what's going on in your area and be able to pick a class from there. As for the internet, I'm hoping the GunDiva chimes in. I know there's a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of opinions. At least in a magazine or a book, you'll know who's opinion it really is.

Jenny Mckinley said...

It's the 21st century. Any man or woman can visit a gun shop and purchase a gun if they wanted to. There are classes women could take in order to learn how to shoot.