Rhonda Carlson is the owner of GIRLZ on FIRE, a High Point-based firearms safety company with classes catered towards women. She is an NRA basic and first steps pistol instructor and a North Carolina-certified concealed carry handgun instructor and has more than 25 years of experience in the safe use and operation of handguns. Learn more about GIRLZ on FIRE. LLC  on Facebook at facebook.com/girlzonfirellc or girlzonfirellc.com and other social channels using the handle @girlzonfirellc.

What was your goal in starting GIRLS on FIRE?

My goal for creating the business is to eliminate the fear of firearms in women, allowing them to protect themselves and their families. Many times, in life, I have heard female friends and other women say that they are afraid of guns. The first thought in my mind is: How do you protect your home and your family from intruders? I consider it a civic duty to educate and empower others in a safe way to defend themselves while incorporating the laws of justified self-defense.

Why do you think it’s important for women learn about firearm safety?

Many of these gun owners inherited a firearm or registered for a purchase permit and bought a gun, but are not comfortable handling their gun or know how to use it. Which makes it frightening to the owner. It is an injustice to yourself to not take the time to learn to use your firearm safely and efficiently while practicing safe carry habits. You cannot wait until an attack is about to happen to try to figure it out.

What kind of gun do you like to operate and why? A handgun? Pistol? Rifle?

Having spent a lot of time in the country growing up, I am a fan of all types of guns. As my initial introduction to guns was for sports shooting and when I grew older, I realized the importance of having the knowledge of gun safety for self-defense. Having shot many handguns at this point, my favorite handgun for self-defense is a semiautomatic 1911 pistol. I love shooting sports, so I also enjoy clay and skeet shooting using a shotgun and general target practice using a rifle.

In light of recent school shootings, what would you say to people who are wary of guns?

No matter what laws are put in place, criminals do not obey laws. My heart cries in distress every time I hear of a mass shooting. But, do we stop law-abiding citizens from having the right to protect themselves because a few sick-minded people intentionally choose to harm a targeted group? My thoughts are: How do we support those being bullied and those in mental distress instead of further adding to their already damaged mental states? As we can see, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it magically disappear.

Is there anything else you would like to say that I didn’t ask you about?

While everyone is not interested in concealed carry, those gun owners must educate themselves on open carry laws in North Carolina. I remind my students that ignorance is not an excuse when you are before the court of law. Not only do I provide concealed carry training, I offer personal one-on-one training, introduction to handguns as well as handgun cleaning services.

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