Many of us can relate to Ann (Leuders) Csincsak’s story. Our husbands or significant others love guns and find them necessary for self protection and even sport, but we are afraid of them. And for good reason, as least we think. When we listen to the media reporting negatively about guns 99% of the time, why on earth would we ever want to handle one, much less have one in our home?
Then comes the day when we realize, whether through a tragic event or perhaps something less dramatic, that we need to be able to protect ourselves. For the first time we consider what the guys have to say. Maybe it is time to consider a firearm after all. So what is the best possible course of action? We want to protect our families and property, but more than that we want to be safe. According to Ann, the first thing to do is to educate yourself.
Here is a snippet of the conversation I had with Jesse and Ann about guns and hanging out with Rich & Renee at Gunsmoke:
Natalie: Ann, tell me about this process of becoming a new gun owner. What has it been like for you?
Ann: I grew up in a home that respected guns but we never wanted them in our house. So it is kind of hard to change 20+ years of how you feel about something. And I had never actually touched a gun until I was 28 years old when we met Rich. If you think about it, when you watch the news every day you see guns hurting people, so it was really hard for me to bring guns in to our home. Especially with a child in the house. I wanted to make sure we protected him without hurting him at the same time. Going to Rich’s class really changed things for me. The advice I give to women now is to get gun education. I was completely afraid of guns. It would literally make my palms sweat talking about them. The first day of the class before we were even handling guns my palms were sweating because I had such a fear of guns in my home. But after leaving that class and gaining that education I am a completely different person now. Now I can take apart a gun and put it back together and feel totally comfortable.
Natalie: So what was it that changed your mind?
Ann: I think if you consider anything you are afraid of, if you were more educated about that subject, you would fear it less. Take
snakes, for example, you could be afraid of every snake that crawls around but if you know they aren’t going to hurt you, you won’t be so afraid.
You shouldn’t just pick up any old gun, you should get something that is applicable to your family. What many people don’t know is that there is a lot to guns now days. At one point Jesse couldn’t shoot his gun because he was not gripping the safety hard enough. That make me feel confident that my son won’t be able to just pick it up and shoot it.
Natalie: Jesse, how has Ann getting into shooting changed things for you?
Jesse: I like it now because I don’t have to pretend that I don’t want to go shoot guns or soft foot around the issue. My wife now knows what it is about and why I am in to it.
When my wife was pregnant she was jogging one time and she was approached by a pack of coyotes. Luckily I had a shotgun in my car and was able to save her and my dogs from being attacked. Between that and her knowledge of guns now, it just makes everything with guns easier on a day to day basis. I have a gun in my jeep, she has one in her car and I sleep better knowing that if I am not home or if I am traveling for work she knows how to protect herself. There is a firearm at home. She knows where it is. She knows how to use it. And that is a good feeling as a husband and a parent.
Natalie: So what was it like to work with Rich, Renee and the Wyatt crew?
Jesse: It was a lot of fun. They are super nice and down to earth. Being on TV to learn about guns is a lot different from being on TV to fall in love. There was a lot of pressure on the Bachelorette – the most pressure we had on us at Gunsmoke was whether we were going to hit the target or not. (laughs)
Natalie: Tell me about the training course.
Jesse: It is a 3 day course and I can tell you – I have been a gun user since I was a little kid with my dad. After taking this class with Rich I realized that everyone needs a course like this. Before we even touched an unloaded gun he talks to you for hours about different scenarios and safety. Rich gave examples and reasons it is important only to use your gun as a last resort and to be aware that in any situation you come upon, you may not have all the facts. Owning a gun is about knowing that you have the ability to protect yourself and never having to pull the trigger – to be able to stay away from these situations. Then he goes in to teaching about where attacks happen, which is usually where guns aren’t allowed: schools, hospitals, planes, military bases. The bad guys go where people will not be able to defend themselves. If they know you will defend yourself they are a lot less likely to attack. Then they teach you how to properly draw your gun and that you are never allowed to have your muzzle pointed at anything you are not willing to destroy. They go over the dry firing scenarios and safety rules and prep you for the next two days with the live rounds, which is literally a blast.
Natalie: So did you guys have a competition?
Jesse: Yes, Rich does a few competitions and he tries to get your adrenaline going so you can kind of feel what it would be like to be in a situation where there pressure – for instance, if there was a bear or something coming at you.
Natalie: So between the two of you, who is the better shot?
Ann: Jesse is the better shot for sure, I am just the quicker draw.
Natalie: Well, that may be the more important element, actually.
Ann: Yes, I would agree.
Jesse: Ann was the quickest draw in our class – beating retired police officers, gunsmiths and everyone else in our class.
Natalie: It sounds like you got a lot out of it, Ann.
Ann: Yes, the thing I keep telling women is to get educated and try it. I am a real person with a family that was genuinely afraid of guns for a long time. And now I am a completely different person. And that is hard to say – that you had a complete change in your life at almost 30 years old, but the class definitely changed my entire belief about guns.
Natalie: So when you explain the fact that you own guns to your son, what will you say?
Ann: You know, that is a great question. It is actually one we asked Rich since he has 4 kids. At what age do you let kids shoot? The guidelines they teach is that the kids should be able to recite the basic gun rules and make sure that they genuinely understand them before they even touch a gun. I want my child to realize that guns are off limits but that they are to be used as tools by your parents until they say otherwise. You don’t want to scare them but you want them to understand that this gun could take someones life. Until they reach that age, they should not be allowed near them at all.
Natalie: So Ann, what do you say to people who say that guns are not feminine?
Ann: There is nothing more attractive than a women who knows how to handle again. It is empowerment and that is what you have to remember as a woman. This is all so empowering. Renee is really such a driving force behind women being more comfortable with guns and she helped me realize that you don’t have to change your style to carry a gun.
Natalie: So I hear you guys had some fun when you shot your new guns for the first time.
Ann: When we went out there to pick up the guns they had finished for us they had set up a carnival style shooting gallery for Jesse and me. They wanted to show us what these guns could do, so that was a fun way for us to get to test these guns for the first time and shoot together. It is definitely action packed at the end. Most of the time when people get a new gun they go out and shoot a paper target. Jesse and I got the experience of going out there and shooting explosives. The Wyatt’s go big when they do things!
Check out this EXCLUSIVE clip from Ann and Jesse’s time at Gunsmoke:
American Guns airs on Discovery Channel Wednesday nights at 9pm.