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By Anna M. Tinsley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS)

FORT WORTH, Texas — This isn’t your grandfather’s old gun holster — or gun, for that matter.

Many of today’s guns and holsters, which a number of Texans will openly carry starting Friday, display carvings and decorations, designs such as flags, even sayings such as “Don’t tread on me.” And some are intended specifically to appeal to women.

It’s about time, some say, noting that women now hold have about a quarter of the state’s licenses to carry handguns.

“Fashion is important to women,” said Carrie Lightfoot, owner of The Well Armed Woman, an Arizona-based online company. “It’s part of who we are. Look at our homes and cars. We basically decorate everything.”

At a time when women are the fastest-growing group of gun buyers, there are even ways to add a corrosion-resistant Cerakote coating to handguns, to change the color of the weapons.

“I think there’s an appeal, when you go to the range, to pull out a firearm that looks different from everyone else’s,” said Cheryl Coburn, digital marketing manager for the Oregon-based NIC Industries, which has a Cerakote division. “Not everyone wants the standard black. Women, we like pretty things.”

But don’t think that a holster or gun decorated with, say, leopard-print or camouflage, means that the woman carrying it isn’t serious about using it.

“Women are really serious about this topic,” said Lightfoot, whose online company sells handgun accessories and directs women to gun training classes. “It’s not like buying a piece of jewelry. It’s buying a tool that could take the life of someone if they have to use it.”

More women are buying and carrying guns than in the past.

Two years ago, firearm sellers estimated that 20 percent of their shooting and hunting-related sales were to women, up from 15 percent in 2010, according to National Sporting Goods Association reports.

And nearly three-fourths of retailers noted that they saw more women in their stores in 2013 than they did the year before, the report said.

“The women’s market is a force in our industry, and manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges are making changes to their products and services to satisfy women’s tastes and needs,” said Jim Curcuruto, director of industry research and analysis for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

More than half the women who own firearms have semiautomatic pistols. Shotguns are the second most likely firearm a woman will own, according to a foundation report.

In the past year, women who bought guns spent nearly $900 on a firearm and more than $400 on accessories. They say they buy items based on practicality, fit and quality.

And most of the women say they aren’t impulse purchases, but something they’ve studied for a while.

The number of Texans with licenses to carry handguns continues to grow, this year reaching nearly 914,000, or nearly 4 percent of Texas’ 27 million residents, according to Texas Department of Public Safety records.

And about one-fourth of those permit holders are women — 27 percent in 2014, 28 percent in 2013, 22 percent in 2012, records show.

Meanwhile, firearm fashion shows are growing in popularity as a way to show women the variety of holsters and gun accessories that are available.

“Many of the women who attend the shows are thinking fashion first and guns second,” said Lucretia Free, who puts on the shows and publishes The American Woman Shooter.

It’s an easy way, she said, “to educate women in a nonthreatening environment about all of the possibilities that exist.”

For many years, the holster needs of many women weren’t being met, Lightfoot said.

“It’s such a manly industry and there weren’t products that understood that fashion is important to women,” she said. “We provide women the opportunity to customize or personalize their holster to whatever color or pattern they prefer. Women need to personalize.”

There are “on the waistband” convertible holsters, which let women carry their handgun on the inside or outside of their pants or skirts, that are made out of Kydex, a type of plastic.

And there are more traditional leather holsters, including those bearing the popular Old Glory.

Purple and black are popular colors, as are the black carbon fiber and pink carbon fiber versions. When violence or tensions in the world rise, the Old Glory version also becomes one of the top sellers.

But there are many other options, including zebra- and leopard-print, lemon yellow, pink, orange, key lime, mocha, turquoise and more.

And for women who choose to carry their weapons concealed, despite the open carry law, there are belly band, bra, tank, pocket, undershorts and thigh holsters available.

“It’s important for people to understand this isn’t frivolous,” Lightfoot said. “It’s not making light of a situation. It’s just part of a new world of being your own protector.

“Men don’t get it,” she said. “It’s about form, style and function. Just because women like color, it doesn’t mean they take it lightly.”

©2015 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Ratha Grimes via Flickr

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Rep. Bennie Thompson

Photo by Customs and Border Protection (Public domain)

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Friday afternoon announced the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has issued subpoenas to 14 Republicans from seven states who submitted the forged and "bogus" Electoral College certificates falsely claiming Donald Trump and not Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in their states.

The Chairman appeared to suggest the existence of a conspiracy as well, noting the "the planning and coordination of efforts," saying "these so-called alternate electors met," and may know "who was behind that scheme."

Keep reading... Show less

Chris Cuomo

News Literacy Week 2022, an annual awareness event started by the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to making everyone “smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy” has closed out. From January 24 to 28, classes, webinars, and Twitter chats taught students and adults how to root out misinformation when consuming news media.
There’s no downplaying the importance of understanding what is accurate in the media. These days, news literacy is a survival tactic. One study estimated that at least 800 people died because they embraced a COVID falsehood — and that inquiry was conducted in the earliest months of the pandemic. About 67 percent of the unvaccinated believe at least one COVID-19 myth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s not that accurate information isn’t available; people are rejecting reports of vaccine efficacy and safety because they distrust the news media. A third of Americans polled by Gallup said they have no trust at all in mass media; another 27 percent don’t have much at all.
Getting people to believe information presented to them depends more on trust than it does on the actual data being shared. That is, improving trust isn’t an issue of improving reporting. It’s an issue of improving relationships with one’s audience.
And that’s the real news problem right now; some celebrity anchors at cable news outlets are doing little to strengthen their relationships with their audiences and a lot to strengthen their relationships with government officials.
The most obvious example is how CNN terminated Prime Time anchor Chris Cuomo last month for his failure to disclose the entirety of his role in advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the sexual harassment accusation that unfolded in Albany, a scandal that eventually led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
But there are others. Just this month, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that another anchor on another cable news network, Laura Ingraham of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows last January, advising Meadows how Trump should react to reports of possible armed protests at state capitols around the country. This revelation followed the story that Sean Hannity, host of the eponymous news hour at Fox News, also texted Meadows with advice last year.
And while he didn't advise a government official, CNN anchor Don Lemon revealed information not available to the public when he texted embattled Empire actor Jussie Smollett to tip him off about the Chicago Police Department’s wavering faith in his story about an assault. That’s from Smollett’s own sworn testimony.
When English philosopher Edmund Burke joked about the press being the Fourth Estate — in addition to the First, Second and Third (the clergy, nobility and commoners, respectively) — his point was that, despite their influence on each other, these “estates” — bastions of power — are supposed to be separate.
The Fourth Estate will always be an essential counterweight to government. But, since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, we’ve been so focused on stopping an executive branch from pressing the press to support an administration's agenda — either by belittling journalists or threatening to arrest them for doing their jobs — that we’ve ignored the ways that it affects and influences other Estates, and not necessarily through its reporting.
That is, we have news personalities-cum-reporters who are influencing government policy — and not telling us about it until it’s too late.
The United States has fostered an incredible closeness between the Second Estate — which in 2021 and 2022 would be political leaders — and the Fourth Estate. About a year ago, an Axios reporter had to be reassigned because she was dating one of President Biden’s press secretaries. Last year, James Bennet, the former editorial page editor of the New York Times and brother of Colorado Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate Michael Bennet, had to recuse himself publicly from the Gray Lady’s endorsement process. In 2013, the Washington Post reported at least eight marriages between Obama officials and established journalists.
To be clear, there aren’t any accusations that anyone just mentioned engaged in anything other than ethical behavior. But I, for one, don’t believe that James and Michael Bennet didn’t discuss Michael’s campaign. I don’t think the Axios reporter and her West Wing-employed boyfriend — or any journalists and their federally employed spouses, for that matter — didn’t share facts that the public will never know. Such is the nature of family and intimacy.
And as long as those conversations don’t affect the coverage of any news events, there’s nothing specifically, technically wrong with them. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t damaging.
As these stories show, when we don’t know about these advisor roles, at least not until someone other than the journalist in question exposes them, it causes a further erosion of trust in news media.
What’s foolish about the Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon improprieties is that they don't necessarily need to be the problem they’ve become. Cuomo’s show contained opinion content like 46 percent of CNN’s programming. An active debate rages on as to whether Fox News is all opinion and whether or not it can rightly even be called opinion journalism since its shows are so studded with inaccuracies and lies.
What that means is that Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon are allowed to take a stand as opinion journalists; Cuomo and Lemon never really worked under a mandate of objectivity and Ingraham and Hannity likely wouldn’t honor it if they did. Indeed, a certain subjectivity — and explaining how it developed for the journalist — is part of an opinion journalist’s craft. To me, little of these consulting roles would be problematic if any of these anchors had just disclosed them and the ways they advised the people they cover.
But they didn’t. Instead, the advice they dispensed to government employees and celebrities was disclosed by a third party and news of it contributes to the public’s distrust in the media. While personal PR advisory connections between journalists and politicians haven’t been pinpointed as a source of distrust, they may have an effect. Almost two-thirds of respondents in a Pew Research poll said they attributed what they deemed unfair coverage to a political agenda on the part of the news organization. No one has rigorously examined the ways in which individual journalists can swing institutional opinion so it may be part of the reason why consumers are suspicious of news.
Cleaning up ex post facto is both a violation of journalistic ethics and ineffective. Apologies and corrections after the fact don't always improve media trust. In other credibility contests, like courtroom battles, statements against one’s interests enhance a person’s believability. But that’s not necessarily true of news; a 2015 study found that corrections don’t automatically enhance a news outlet’s credibility.
It’s a new adage for the 21st century: It’s not the consulting; it’s the cover-up. Journalists need to disclose their connections to government officials — up front — to help maintain trust in news media. Lives depend on it.

Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.


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