Women and guns are still taboo in the minds of many. In this episode, Bruce Hutcheon talks with three-time Olympian biathlete Lanny Barnes about her thoughts on the importance of women being vocal in Washington DC, their local state capital, and in their communities about gun ownership. Lanny showcases The DC Project which is an educational, nonpartisan initiative that brings 50 women – one from each state – to Washington, DC, to establish relationships with their legislators and reveal the faces and stories of firearms owners and Second Amendment supporters. Don’t miss this episode with Lanny as she narrates her story of being an athlete, a gun owner, and an advocate for educating others about women using guns for protection and hunting.
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A 3X Olympian Speaks About Hunting And The DC Project With Lanny Barnes
This is a special episode because we had Dianna Muller. She’s the Founder of The DC Project. Dianna asked me to get a hold of Lanny Oakley Barnes. Lynn has been a three-time Olympian. She’s a professional shooter and she’s also an ambassador for The DC Project. Lynn, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
Why are you involved in The DC Project?
There are a lot of reasons why I’m involved. First and foremost, Di’s a very good friend of mine and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. Two, probably the big reason is that everything I’ve done in my life has revolved around the use of firearms. I’ve competed in three Olympics. I’ve put food on the table for my family. I work for a company that makes sites for firearms. I can still carry so I protect myself with one. Pretty much everything in my life revolves around the use of firearms and I want to be able to protect that right so that other people can have the same opportunities that I have had.
Why did The DC Project come to life? What was the genesis of that?
Dianna Muller, she went to DC to meet with a few of her representatives. While she was there, she got the idea of, “Why not bring more people and get more people involved in this? See if we can bring about change from a woman’s perspective and show our representatives in Congress and Senate that the idea of what people have as gunners in America, a lot of people think, rednecks run around?” It’s not true. There’s a big percentage of women out there that are firearm owners and everyday people. Her idea was to show our representatives that there are a broader picture and a big face to gun owners and not just the typical stereotype.
I understand from Dianna that there’s a representative on The DC Project from every single state and they’re all pro-gun. When you have been there, you have been protested against it. What’s all that about?
A lot of people, regardless of their viewpoint, they don’t take the time to research what each organization is about. For us, people look at us and they say, “They love guns and we don’t love guns. We need to get rid of them or protest against them.” They don’t realize that we represent women from all different backgrounds, Democrats, Republicans, mothers, daughters, everything. Every different kind of woman you can imagine is in our group and supporting the Second Amendment for a lot of different reasons, whether it’s personal protection or hunting competition. One of the biggest ones is having that right to protect themselves and realizing that as a woman we may wish we were stronger than men, but physically there are a lot of differences and that can help level the playing field and help us to protect ourselves in the long run.
The constitution says that we can have guns. The Second Amendment stamps that, but yet there are people out there that say guns are evil, guns are bad. They try to demonize women because you have it. My good friend Kirstie Pike, owner of Prois Hunting Apparel, I couldn’t believe some of the emails that she sent me because she would post something where she had hunted, harvested and killed something, take it home and eat it. Put it on the wall and relived the memories. Some of those emails were unbelievable. Have you ever gotten hate mail like that?So many targets in so little time Click To Tweet
I’ve gotten a little bit. I’ve been fortunate enough that because I competed in a sport that involves skiing and shooting, they didn’t look at it as a shooting sport. They overlooked the shooting portion and looked at it as just a sport. If a lot of people were to step back and look at shooting competitions as pure sport, whether it’s similar to bowling, table tennis or tennis, any skill sport, they’d actually might enjoy watching it. With the hunting, I know Kristy and Katherine, a lot of the women who were involved with Prois and hunting nationwide get attacked by women and men who don’t understand hunting and don’t realize that hunting has been something that as humans we’ve been doing forever. It’s a way we’ve survived evolution. A lot of people don’t take the time to realize that hunting can be a way of getting in better shape, putting organic meat on the table for your family and enjoying time in the outdoors. It’s not all about killing animals. It’s about sharing the experiences with friends and family and challenging yourself, putting good organic meat on the table.
Thanks for bringing that up because there’s a big push in the hunting community for the 3R’s: recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters. One of the biggest increases we have and we’re seeing is the fact that people want to know where their meat comes from and they’ve never hunted in their life. They have no hunting background, yet going out and buying a license, killing a deer, killing an elk, killing a bunny rabbit and they’re feeding their family pure organic meat. They went out and harvested, processed, put up and then cooked up and fed their family and friends. It’s amazing that people are taking away the aspect of killing something to say, “No, this is a natural order of things.” You talked about hunter-gatherers and that’s how we’ve been living. That’s how the human race lives and we’re finding out health-wise for us than going to the store and taking some packaged meat, food, vegetables off the shelf and eat it. It’s a lot better to be a hunter-gatherer again.
As an Olympic athlete, I know probably better than most how food affects the body. I always like to tell people you have to treat your body as if it were like a fine automobile, like a Ferrari or something. If you put bad gas in a Ferrari, it’s not going to run well. You look at the same thing with any person. If you put junk food, processed food or meat that has hormones and all bad chemicals and things like that, your body is not going to function well and it’s not going to last as long as maybe you’d want it to. I always stress to people that hunting is a good way of guaranteeing that the meat you’re eating is pure. Those animals, they’re eating berries, nuts, grass, good organic food and that translates into good organic meat. There’s nothing wrong with that. As an athlete, I saw a lot of fellow competitors that chose not to eat meat. That’s your choice. Everybody has the ability to choose. The simple fact is that your body needs protein. One sure way of getting good, incredible protein is through animals. I fueled myself my entire Olympic career by eating elk, grouse and things like that.
When women being the fastest-growing segment of the hunting industry, it’s raised eyebrows. It’s raised the manufacturer’s awareness of that fact. Companies like Kirstie Pike’s women-owned companies that are specifically hunting apparel, even with all that positive trust, the media still tries to demonize women who hunt. I have a friend, Jeannette Hall up in Alberta, Canada. She tells me stories about emails and such like that. There was one company that said she couldn’t put her African grips and grin on posts anymore on social media and still be with the company. I look at that and I go, “I don’t understand that.” From a women’s perspective, why would companies want to demonize you?
It’s unfortunate that it happens. A lot of people say, “Things are so hard for women, people of color and the LGBT community.” I always liked to look at things from a different perspective and always look at the glass half full. Think of how far we’ve come. We may not be the perfect country, but we’re getting there. Unfortunately, women still are getting demonized for hunting and posting pictures of animals, more so than men because maybe it isn’t as accepted yet, but they were getting there. The women are the fastest-growing segment in the hunting and shooting community. It’s only going to continue to become a positive thing for women in the future with hunting, shooting and the fact that they can protect their families and put meat on the table for their families and compete against the men in shooting competitions. What I say to women who are experiencing that is hang in there and keep doing what you’re doing.Hunting is a good way of guaranteeing that the meat you're eating is pure. Click To Tweet
You’re a person who always put the positive spin on it, take the high road and try to reach common ground. Let’s go back to The DC Project. Back in November of 2018, Dianna Muller was a spokesperson for a pro-gun for Time Magazine. If you haven’t seen that article, go and get it. It’s a tri-fold cover. I don’t think Time Magazine ever had done a tri-fold cover. There are sorts of people and Time Magazine has done a good job with Dianna’s viewpoint of showing how far we are left and right. The people in the middle, they’re not educated. One thing that The DC Project wants to do is educate people. How are they doing that?
It’s starting by educating our representatives in DC, Senate and Congress and talking to them about different perspectives that everyday Americans have with the use of firearms. Some of the next steps are trying to work more on the state level. For a lot of us in The DC Project, some of our big goals are to bring back firearms, safety and education into schools. Back when I was a kid we had a firearm safety and similar to hunter’s education in schools. They brought in BB guns, bows and we learned how to shoot and we had grown up with that healthy respect for firearms. With schools completely getting rid of all those educational programs, even shooting teams, the only exposure a lot of kids, especially in big cities have with guns is what they see on TV. Of course, there are going to be accidents if kids encounter a gun, they’re not going to know what to do with it and have that respect for it because they see on TV, “I just turn it sideways and pull the trigger.” If we can bring back education in schools, it will be that much better for preventing accidents. Having kids grew up with that healthy respect for firearms and not abusing it. I only see positive coming out of that situation.
You mentioned positive respect and unfortunately in this country, there seems to be a lack of respect for life. I know as a hunter, you and I are both hunters and we honor our kill. There’s a great European tradition where we give the last bunch to the fallen game and it’s a tradition that’s been going on for hundreds, thousands of years and people don’t get that. Why do you think people looking in at hunters don’t get how important hunters are? I heard that whitetails 100 years ago were becoming diminished because of the Westward expansion and different things. People had to eat, so they killed deer and keep killing deer. Now, they’re doing the conservation efforts. Here we are with more deer than we’ve ever had on the planet. People maligned me for going out and shooting a deer and eat any deer and putting a deer on my wall. Why do you think that is?
Like you said, a lot of people don’t understand it. Someone who has never hunted before, it’s hard for them to have that perspective. What a lot of people think when they think of hunters is, “They are senseless murderers. They go out, they kill animals and they don’t feel bad.” I don’t know a single hunter that doesn’t show respect, take a pause after they take an animal’s life. If you just hunt and shoot whatever animals and not have feelings for that, there’s something wrong with you. A lot of people don’t realize that every hunter out there truly appreciates what that animal is giving to them, essentially life, food and nourishment for their family. It’s like anything, if you haven’t experienced something, it’s hard to truly appreciate that perspective. There are a lot of things that I’ve never done in life and I hope by the time I die, I can try everything. If you don’t try something and you don’t know what it is, it’s hard to understand it. What I recommend to people is going to the shooting range, try hunting and also go out with people that have the experience to see what it’s really like.
One thing I learned a long time ago when I first started hunting is that the Native American revered the animals they hunted because those animals spirit was giving them lives so they could live. Hunting with the Inuit’s, I slept with the elders one evening and they said, “If the caribou come, we live. If the caribou didn’t come, we die.” We’re talking hundreds of years of verbal tradition, verbal heritage and verbal history. They didn’t write it down, but they did petroglyphs or paintings to share that heritage, but to think about that, Native Americans are so attuned to that fact. Hunters are really attuned to that fact also because it’s the spirit of the animal that’s giving you life and they’re actually sharing their life with you. If you get into hunting, how we live and how we’re all connected, that’s where I’m coming back to The DC Project. We are all connected in one way or another. The discord we have in this country is ridiculous. It’s unbelievable because we are disconnected as a people. I look to The DC Project is helping remedy that. What are your thoughts on that?Hunting is not all about killing animals, but about sharing the experiences with friends and family and challenging yourself. Click To Tweet
We’re so far apart in this country and it’s a shame to see as far as the hunting perspective. If you look back, every single person in this country, their family were hunters at some point, I don’t know how many generations back. That’s how people survived. How we’ve evolved as a species, we’ve hunted and gathered food. That’s been part of who we are. It’s become such a polarized thing that we can’t appreciate something that was so normal back then. It’s a shame we’ve gone so far to the fact that a lot of people, if they had to survive out on their own, they wouldn’t know how to boil water, gather food or put meat on the table without a grocery store. I wish people would have more respect for hunters and what they do for conservation if it weren’t for hunters, especially the State of Colorado. Our licenses pay for conservation for new land, for animals to roam and preserving that land and increasing the numbers. It’s pretty amazing what hunters do. I wish people would understand that and hopefully with more education, people will. The DC Project, Dianna and her vision are really bringing a lot of education to people that maybe haven’t had that perspective.
How are they doing that? I know you go to Washington, I know you set up the interviews with the House and the Senate, our Congress. Other than that, what are the things you’re doing to help get the message out?
Besides the meetings, The DC Project is made up of so many different kinds of women and so many different backgrounds. Everyone thinks, “They’re probably Republicans or conservatives.” We have a lot of Democrats and independents and people that aren’t really politically motivated but appreciate the fact that we have a Second Amendment. It’s more about spreading the word and getting the actual face of women gun owners out there and showing that we’re not crazy. We’re not out there to hurt people. We’re out there to protect our families. Put meat on the table and carry on traditions that have been part of this country forever.
Part of the mission and the goals of The DC Project, we mentioned education, representation and preservation. The Second Amendment is in our constitution. There are people that will gladly confiscate my guns, your guns if they could. Looking forward to the future, how do you see The DC Project helping to preserve our individual freedoms granted by the constitution?
We’re working hard to create relationships with our representatives in DC so that when a bill comes up or an issue with firearms, they can reach out to us and say, “What’s the female gun owner’s perspective on this? How is this going to affect everyday gun owners, women?” A lot of times when a bill comes up in the Senate, a lot of people don’t think about the repercussions of it and how it affects every day Americans. They only look at what it does for the bad guys, the people that shouldn’t be using firearms, to begin with. It’s creating those relationships and helping to educate them on how it affects all gun owners, not just only women, bringing that around to everyone in the United States and educating people. As gun owners, we don’t want mass shootings. We don’t want to see anyone harmed with a firearm. There are right ways and wrong ways of doing things. I don’t think that a lot of the things that we’re doing are helping to solve a situation.
One, you’re a woman. Two, you’re an Olympian. That speaks for itself. I have thousands of audience and they’re going to read. 20%, 30%, up to 40% are women. If they wanted to get involved with The DC Project, how would you recommend they do that?
Check us out on Facebook. Di has a website, Pro3Gunner.com where she has the information on The DC Project and how to get involved. The biggest thing is we want more women to get involved, especially at the state level and educate people in their cities, towns, at their capitols and show people, “Women that own guns aren’t crazy.” We want to preserve that Second Amendment rights so that not only us, but future generations can protect themselves and put meat on the table if they need to.The world needs more people who respect other people and taking the time to make their life better in some small way. Click To Tweet
What challenges do you have that somebody who’s reading could hopefully solve?
Some of the challenges are looking at some of the gun legislation that is being proposed and looking at it from all different perspectives. Here in Colorado, we had the Red Flag law. One of the biggest things that concerns me with that is it looks and feels like it can be a good law because it can take away guns from someone that may not be mentally sound, but look at the perspective from a woman who is trying to get away from a man or anybody that she has restraining orders against. A restraining order is a piece of paper. It doesn’t really do much. Let’s say her husband or ex-boyfriend finds out that she has a gun to protect herself. All he has to do is tell the sheriff, “My wife, girlfriend, she’s suicidal.” They go over and take her guns away. At a minimum she would have two weeks before she could get in front of a judge to try to plead her case and say, “This is why I have a firearm. I’m trying to protect myself.” Anytime we come up with gun legislation, it’s very imperative that we look at it from all different perspectives and not just rush into passing laws that are going to affect people and hurt people in the long run. Our goal is to make sure that everybody’s safe. None of us want anybody harmed with a firearm. We want to make sure that we’re looking and watching out for everybody’s safety and livelihood as well.
If you have thoughts about The DC Project, you can go to DCProject.info. Check that out and reach out to them. Here are some needs that Dianna shared with me. They’re up against some of the most well-funded people on the planet. People show up to counter-rally and they get off a bus. They hold a sign, they chant and then they get back on the bus and go away. Those people, I can guarantee you, were paid to be there. They have no knowledge to say, “Come to this rally, we’ll pay $100, we’ll pay you $50. We’ll take you there, feed you and then bring you home.” Unfortunately, there are two polar opposites in this conversation and they are extremely well-funded. People don’t want us to have this conversation. They don’t even want to have the liberty of speaking about going on ownership, about personal freedoms, about personal protection.
Having said that, if you have the ability, please get a hold of The DC Project Founder Dianna Muller. Reach out to her and have a meaningful discussion because one, this problem isn’t going away. Two, women that I know are sick and tired of being demonized, sick and tired of being targets. Just like Lanny said in Colorado, there is a law that I could turn in Lanny in the sheriff, which a lot of the sheriffs in the counties of Colorado do. They could come to her house, be within the law and take her guns with absolutely no proof. That’s ludicrous. What are your thoughts?
Anybody can get involved and help. I know 99% of the women are going on their own dime to DC taking off time from work, getting babysitters for their kids because they believe strongly in preserving the Second Amendment and making sure that they have the right to protect themselves and their family. Have engaging conversations with your friends, your family, people that don’t have the same opinions as you and try. You may not be able to change their mind, but see if you guys can meet in the middle somewhere and try to continue to make this country great. See if we can make it better and that we respect each other’s opinions and respect each other as Americans.
2020 is coming up and this is not a paid political announcement. This is my own opinion. Readers, get in touch with your representatives and say, “The DC Project is important to me. I vote. Let’s have a discussion. Let’s make a difference because I count as a woman.” Donald Trump Jr., I know sometimes you check out my show. Get this in front of your dad, get him aware of The DC Project. There are people that he can ask to get involved and talk to Dianna because women need to be represented. The opposition has all representatives as they want with the media because the media flat loves them. It makes a great story but this is a great story about America. It’s not just about the guns. Guns are a tool and I could go into the stats about murder rates, but guns killed far fewer people than cars, hammers, screwdrivers and other blunt weapons, but the media never tells you about that. Having said that, any last words, Lanny?
You made a good point about the media. We need more positive stories out there and all the positive things that people are doing with firearms. We got back from the world championships in Sweden and American women went 1, 2, 3 in the podium. We swept the podium and won the team gold for USA with an AR. You’ll never hear about that in mainstream media. The three of us women swept the podium and the fourth helped us win the team gold. Lena Miculek, Ashley Rheuark, Becky Yackley and myself, we did something positive with a firearm and we proudly represented our country. I hope that other women have the same opportunity to do that in the future.
Lanny mentioned AR. For anybody reading and all the congressman, AR does not stand for automatic rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle, the creator of that weapon. AR, it’s the name of the company that created it. Automatic rifles are already in the books. You have to have a class X, Y, Z, federal firearms permit to even have automatic weapons or sell automatic weapons. It isn’t the number of laws we have on the books that’s important. What’s important, after talking with these two ladies and over 50 years of being around weapons, rifles, shotguns, pistols, is that I’m responsible for myself. I’m responsible for my family and I’m responsible for somebody that’s in harm’s way. Any opponent, if you are being attacked, if your children are being attacked, I would step in a way and take the bullet and die for you. I don’t know how many people that are on your sidelines would do that. I hope everyone, but I know that isn’t true because there are some people that would take a bullet for another human being. Forget race, creed, sex, gender, it doesn’t matter. There are people like me, like Lanny that would do that in a second with no hesitation, no thought. We would do that, why? We value human life. Those are my two cents.
You’re a great American. There are so many of us that would be willing to protect anybody, regardless of their beliefs. The world needs more of people respecting other people and taking the time. If you see someone that may be struggling, who cares what kind of person they are? Try to make their life better in some small way.
- Lanny Oakley Barnes
- The DC Project
- Prois Hunting Apparel
- Article – Time Magazine
- Facebook – The DC Project
About Lanny Barnes
Lanny Barnes is a Three-time Olympian in the sport of Biathlon and a Professional 3-Gun competitor. Lanny & her twin sister competed in several Olympics together before both girls made history and inspired the world when Tracy selflessly gave Lanny her spot on the Sochi, Russia 2014 Olympic team after Lanny fell ill during the final trials and wasn’t able to complete all the races.
Lanny grew up shooting small bore competitions as well as hunting and fishing in Colorado. She claims that biathlon has made her a better hunter and hunting has made her a better biathlete and shooter as she is able to accurately shoot a rifle with a heart rate of 180 beats per minute and effortlessly pursue elk above 10,000ft.
Lanny is now competing in 3-gun competitions where she made the 3GN Pro Series and has won 4 major High Lady match titles (2016). Lanny has the goal of becoming the best female shooter in the country. Lanny is also teaching courses to military, law enforcement and competitive shooters on how to shoot with an elevated heart rate and under stress and is a Babes with Bullets Instructor. The firearms training institute that Lanny and her sister started together is called T.O.P. Shooting Institute, otherwise known as “The Olympian Project”. After developing the skills necessary to shoot while under extreme physical and mental stress for the past 15 years they wanted to share these unique skills and what they have learned with others.
Lanny also spends a majority of her free time traveling around to schools, 4-H clubs, Boys & Girls Clubs, Boys & Girls Scouts, etc. talking to them about following their dreams, setting goals, and leading a healthy active lifestyle. She is also a professional artist. Check out her artist website- www.theolympianartist.com