Babies and guns: not the most likely combination. But it’s one that seems to have struck a chord with some parents in Iowa, where a new class about how to both safely pack heat and carry infants is causing some buzz.
“Shooting sports are evolving into a younger, more professional, more unisex demographic,” Tom Hudson, general manager and investing partner of the CrossRoads Shooting Sports indoor range in Johnston, tells Yahoo Parenting. “And one of our target markets is female.”
So when he met Melody Lauer at a professional networking event and learned she was a firearms enthusiast and mother of three with a passion for gun safety, he says that having her offer the new class — “Babywearing and Carrying” — was a no-brainer. The first such seminar, held in February and offering onsite childcare, drew about a dozen moms and a handful of dads. And now, because of the high level of interest in the topic, Lauer is getting booked up with more plans — like leading a larger weekend workshop at the end of the month, teaching classes at other area shooting ranges, and presenting discussions at various chapters of the Well-Armed Woman, a national resource for female gun owners according to Yahoo.
Lauer with her gun. Photo by Facebook.
“The idea for the class came out of hearing about the kid in Idaho who shot his mom recently. That touched me in a very deep way because my daughter was 2 at the time,” Lauer, 30, with kids ages nine months, 3, and 6, tells Yahoo Parenting. “I thought, there’s no reason this should happen. We are adults and can be responsible.”
Lauer says she agreed to get her gun-carrying permit when she was 21 and living in Pennsylvania. Her husband, who had just gotten out of the military, asked her to consider it because he had begun traveling a lot for a new job. She consented, as long as she could first get professional training and choose the gun she felt most comfortable with. “I knew that just having a gun wasn’t the equivalent of knowing how to use it, of course,” she says. And having a gun, she adds, “seemed like a practical choice. I know in violent encounters you don’t have time to rely on the help of other people. So to me, it’s about taking responsibility.”
Soon after getting her firearm and permit, Lauer became an all-out gun enthusiast: She practiced shooting at a range that eventually hired her to do sales — and then encouraged her to get her instructor credentials through the NRA, which she did. Later, when she and her husband moved to Virginia, Lauer found work at yet another gun store — as well as a second job doing administrative work at an attachment-parenting center that taught childbirth, babywearing, and breastfeeding classes. And, while acknowledging that guns and attachment parenting may seem like an odd pairing, Lauer says, “It’s more common than you would believe. It’s just that people who are into both usually don’t want others to know. I kept both of my jobs very separate, but I loved both.”
Lauer in action. Photo courtesy of Melody Lauer.
After Lauer had her first child, the family moved to Iowa, where she began life as a stay-at-home mom — who never lost her passion for firearms. Now, she wants to spread the word that guns and parenting do not have to be mutually exclusive. “I’ve coslept with my babies, I’ve been wearing my babies, I’ve loved them, and I’ve worn a gun the whole time,” she says. Despite the stigma, she adds, “I decided I’d stick my neck out there” by offering her class to other moms, too. Most of her workshop deals directly with safety tips, she says, including to never carry guns in bags or keep them in drawers but always use a holster — and to understand that simply having a gun won’t make you safer.
“I always caution people if they are carrying a gun to feel safe, then they are carrying it for the wrong reason,” she says, stressing that knowing how to use it properly is just as important. Finally, Lauer notes, “I will never try to convince someone that they should get a gun, that’s a personal decision. But if you feel that a gun is for you, then I will help you do it safely.”
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