By Shelley Calton

The women photographed in these portraits have chosen to arm themselves. On a basic level, they own a handgun for protection, but the bigger question is, why? This was at the core of my investigation. I found that gun ownership gives women an opportunity to make a bold statement: They refuse to be vulnerable and victimized. They decry the myth of the helpless woman and instead project an ethic of unapologetic self-reliance. They are ready to face an attacker, take aim and pull the trigger.

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