It’s hard to pin down a woman with a gun (in more ways than one). Cathryne Czubek’s new documentary, A Girl and a Gun, takes on the historically complex relationship between American women and firearms—and the portrait that emerges may surprise those who expect another Bowling for Columbine.


Czubek captures some shockingly incongruous images—the mom with a baby in one arm and a shotgun in the other, the Tai Chi instructor proudly displaying her used targets above her kitchen sink, and a vendor shilling hunting gear cut for high heels—but her storytelling demonstrates that armed women aren’t all run-with-the-boys bluster. Their reasons for owning and using guns are complicated, and often, female gun owners are ambivalent about their decision to get (and stay) armed.


Victims' rights advocate Stephanie Alexander

Though there are touching stories of women using guns as a way to bond with their families through sport, the majority of the interviewees are, unsurprisingly, motivated by a need to protect themselves. “You move through the world as a target when you’re a woman,” says sex writer (and proud gun owner) Violet Blue. “Period.” These women aren’t victims, though: they’re well-trained, thoughtful, and determined to educate their friends and families about responsible gun use.



Champion skeet shooter Emily Blount with her father (and coach)

Documentaries on hot-button political issues can often be plodding and preachy, but A Girl and a Gun is a fast-paced, nuanced, and anything-but-soapbox-y exploration of why women lock and load.

This fantastic doc had its first public screening last night at the DOC NYC Festival at New York’s IFC Center—but you can still catch it at the IFC Center this Wednesday, November 14th at 5:30 PM. Click here to buy tickets in advance. And be sure to check out the trailer before you go!



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Maggie Carr has written about TV, feminism, fashion, and other kinds of lady business for BUST and Thought Catalog, among others. She's never not tweeting about Kanye West at @racecarr.