I am lucky to live in Missouri, where we have constitutional carry, which means I am allowed to conceal carry my gun without a conceal carry permit. This is a right in which I do not take lightly and I proudly support conceal carry and our 2nd Amendment that gives us the right to bear arms.

I learned to shoot a gun when I was around 8-years-old and was taught the proper way to handle, aim, shoot and carry. I learned to respect the weapon and I am aware of the only times it is to be used. I have always believed in carrying for self-defense and will always be an advocate for other women to do the same.

I have read many news stories of women and children being kidnapped, killed or that are missing. I always wonder, what if? What if these women would have been armed or knew another form of self-defense – would the story have ended differently? No woman should ever have to fear for her or her children’s safety, no woman should be afraid to live alone, go for a run or walk to her car at the mall for fear of being attacked. One quick way to end these fears is for women to learn to handle and shoot a firearm, then practice her right to carry. I refuse to fear for my safety while I am out running errands or in my own home.

I am an advocate for young girls learning to shoot. Teach them to shoot when they are young and they will learn respect for the weapon and will never have to fear for their safety. After all, a restraining order is just a piece of paper, right? Teach your children to shoot when they are young, teach them to respect the weapon and allow them to get comfortable while shooting. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they will choose to carry and will respect the weapon and it’s intended uses.

I also make sure I have a taser with me at all times as well. In my glove box, my purse or my pocket, just in case. At any given moment, I try to make sure I always have at least one weapon within my reach, because you honestly never know when you are going to need it and if you are only relying on one and it happens to be out of your reach, that might not end well.

But what about those weapon-free zones?

I also practice Brazilian Jujitsu, Taekwondo and basic self-defense. I highly encourage ladies and children to learn at least one form of basic self-defense as well. There will be times that you will not always be able to carry your gun, but that does not mean you should be left defenseless. Learn to fight back and defend yourself. Self-defense can help to eliminate fears women have about being attacked, it can also teach patience, respect, build your confidence and, not to mention, it’s a really great workout! Children and young ladies who cannot carry a gun will greatly benefit from this as well. If nothing else, it will at least give them a fighting chance.

Ladies, please do not leave yourself open to becoming another victim. Please, take advantage of your right to bear arms and defend yourself. Learn at least one form of physical self-defense. Do not let yourself or your daughters become another statistic. We all hope that the towns we settle down in are safe, but you never know. I encourage you to not be intimidated and to take control of your fears. Unfortunately, as children grow up and move out, parents will not always be there to defend them, but you can make sure that they have the knowledge and ability to defend themselves, if needed.

Brittany Judd is a millennial from St. Louis. She’s a sales coordinator for an electrical distribution company and a proud Whiskey Patriot. She supports our troops with care packages going overseas each week and started a foundation called “Legacy of Love” in honor of her grandpa, who passed away of cancer.