Violence against women is an issue commonly brought up in our culture. The world is a dangerous place, and let's just face it, my fellow ladies, despite the good qualities and strengths we may have, we are physically the weaker sex. Our bone and muscle density just isn't as strong as the men's.

It's in acknowledging this, however, that we can better prepare to defend ourselves. One particular method of self-defense is an object of debate. Yet used correctly, a gun can even out the odds between a woman and her would-be assailant.

Mr. H. is an older man from my town. He grew up using guns for hunting. Now a retiree and disabled, he passes his skills on, offering shooting classes to young ladies. "Fifty years ago, when I was a kid, there wasn't so much crime as there is now. I might only have ten years left to live at most, but you girls will be living through a much harder time," he says.

Philosophically, (as Mr. H. informed us) in the Summa Theologica, Aquinas writes that harming someone out of self-defense is allowed on the moral level. The attacker loses his human right to bodily integrity when he chooses to act worse than an animal. (A bear, for example, doesn't have reason and doesn't know what it's doing. A human should know better.)

I have taken several shooting lessons so far with him and a couple of friends. To be honest, guns have never interested me before and my first lesson with Mr. H. was the first time handling a real gun. My friends and I were all started on revolvers since the recoil isn't as strong and is, therefore, easier on our wrists. The bullets are tiny, but when it comes to guns, even small can be deadly.

Mr. H. told us that he has shot down deer with a revolver. Another time, he told us the story of an enormous bear, record size, that was killed with a small bullet to its head. "Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never point your gun at anything that you don't want to destroy. Safety, safety, safety, though not particularly in that order," Mr. H. tells us in each lesson.

I have looked into other methods of self-defense along with shooting. I began taking a course in women's self-defense this summer at my local martial arts and fitness center. I also carry a small knife on my person whenever I go into town. (I have yet to apply for a concealed carry license and currently don't own my own gun so alternatives are good to know.)

A gun, however, can compensate for the brute power that a petite woman like myself lacks against a man. Keep in mind that firing a gun is a last resort. You most likely won't even have to shoot it, since safety-wise, we try to avoid code red. Just pulling it out should keep an unarmed assailant away. A woman carrying gun isn't one that the bad guys will want to mess with.

"I've only pulled out a gun in self-defense once," said Mr. H., telling us the story about a time he was almost mugged. "I never had to fire it. Soon after I pulled it out, he ran away. It never happened again."

It comes as a surprise that those who are all for women's rights and raising awareness of violence against women are often on the side of taking guns out of civilian hands. Without a doubt, guns are a dangerous tool. The handling of firearms without proper knowledge or with the wrong intentions has proven this consequentially. However, those who are anti-gun are fixated so much on the disasters that they ignore the cases where guns have kept people safe.

Kaitlyn Bennet, a guns rights activist and a graduate from Kent State University says, "Kent State, and I'm sure that other campuses do this as well, they put up flyers that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while attending this university. That's terrifying! Why are we advertising that these women might be sexually assaulted but prevent them from protecting themselves? A lot of campuses don't allow pocket knives or even pepper spray so they're just letting women be victims. They're not doing anything to help. Those flyers aren't doing anything to help."

Thankfully, the university that I attend does allow concealed carry so students may defend themselves. (And thankfully, the one in five women statistic has been debunked. It's actually about one in fifty-three women who get assaulted during college. That doesn't mean we should be any less prepared, though!)

Bodily integrity should be the human right of every law-abiding citizen. A world without gun violence is a dream that may not likely become a reality. It isn't a perfect world and we need to be realistic. Human nature is fallen, flawed, and at its worst, destructive. There will always be people with bad intentions.

We can't change that, even though many of us would like to. We can't ignore it either. As long as there are potential threats out there, we must be ready to protect ourselves from them. We can't change the weak parts of our physical structure as women but we can make ourselves equal in strength with the help of a gun.