By Meredith Murray
This past July, 50 women, one from each
state, and each of different race, religion, age, background, and political
affiliation descended upon Capitol Hill united with one common purpose - to
share their “why” behind supporting the second amendment. Beyond their gun
rights advocacy, this dynamic group of women consisting of competitive
shooters, hunters, mothers, daughters, and survivors of attacks to name a few,
sought to build and maintain relationships with legislators and congressmen.
Through candid conversations, these women took the opportunity to “dispel
common myths and to garner support for gun rights.” This necessary and timely
initiative is called the D.C. Project.
Founded in 2015 by Dianna Muller, a
retired law enforcement officer turned professional 3-gun competitor, the D.C.
Project was unexpectedly born out of a tourism trip to D.C. While visiting, one
of Dianna’s friends who had done some advocacy work asked her if she wanted to
meet her congressman. After Dianna’s meeting, a lightbulb went off and she
began pondering, “Is there something we should be doing as gun-owners to talk
to these people who make decisions that affect us?” She considered the impact
that could be made by female gun owners, specifically, speaking with these
decision-makers. The typical “gun-rights supporter” mold needed to be broken on
Capitol Hill and women who believed in the preservation of the second amendment
needed to be represented, seen, and heard. After all, gun rights are women’s
rights. So Dianna answered her own question by piecing together the voices
and stories of one woman from each state to come together, put boots on the
ground, and get to work.
Laura Evans, New York delegate,
explains that “Because the D.C. project is
nonpartisan, we have more credibility and diversity than many groups that are
blatantly partisan. But we’re not
there to argue. We’re there to
create long-term relationships with lawmakers and be a resource for them when
they need legitimate information
on guns, gun legislation, and the practicality and consequences of those laws
One of the many ways this group is
made distinctive from others is the women assume a posture of respect, professionalism,
and honor throughout the entirety of their four days spent in D.C. -- a welcome
and refreshing change to be sure for the people occupying the offices they
visit. While they are not shaking
fists or pointing fingers, they do seek to have honest conversations and speak
respectfully, but firmly. In the midst of so many recent devastating massacres,
“common sense gun-control” sounds like music to the ears of emotional,
well-meaning, yet uninformed citizens. The reality is no law can regulate or
decrease acts of either criminal or mentally disturbed violence. The moment of
enlightenment, surprise, understanding, or empathy shown by the lawmakers
during these conversations is a win for the women visiting their offices.
Dianna strategically divides the 50
women into small groups of 4-5 women with radically different personal stories
to participate in pre-planned
meetings. Each group has appointments where the women introduce themselves, get
to know their representatives, and simply share their stories. There is no
agenda. There is no “ask” of the lawmakers to change anything - just an
invitation to listen, ask questions, and form a relationship. Conversations
naturally flow into discussion around specific legislation on gun issues that
open the door for the ladies to explain how certain laws, bills, or policies
could have unintended consequences or negative effects on law-abiding citizens,
or, even be unconstitutional. Often times, the women of the D.C. Project give
real-world examples of why that legislation does not, or would not work,
resulting in some of the anti-gun lawmakers reacting with genuine surprise.
This right here - is representative
democracy in action. This is citizens exercising their right to have a say
beyond casting a vote - to ensure these elected representatives, who swore to
defend the constitution, are not only defending it but defending it with major
consideration of the inalienable rights of the citizens protected by it.
Before anyone is pro-gun, anti-gun,
Democrat or Republican, they are first people and citizens with
real stories. The D.C. Project captures the true essence of what “diversity”
means, especially in a pro-gun setting. The women that comprise the D.C.
A black mother whose son was shot
in the head by a felon with an illegally obtained firearm.
An attorney who successfully
defended herself against a stranger that followed her into an elevator and
attacked her in a parking garage. He came to a halt and fled after she was able
to reach her legal weapon and put a bullet in his neck.
A Naturalized immigrant
Olympian from Venezuela who saw
what gun rights restrictions and socialism did to her native country.
A trans woman.
A law-abiding wife whose
husband was murdered in front of her in a gun-free zone by her stalker, while her personal firearm was in the
car. A law created to protect, killed.
A 4 ft,10 inch former Marine
Corps drill instructor of Philippine descent.
A professional outfitter and
hunter who teaches other ladies to
An Olympian biathlete who is a
competitive shooter and hunter.
An eleven-year-old champion of
The list goes on.
The women of the D.C. Project share
their authentic experiences with a sense of pride and yet also a sense of
humility. The ill-conceived notion that most supporters of the second amendment
are gun-toting, illiterate, backwoods redneck, white men (nothing wrong with
this by the way) is a sorry and lazy perception. The second amendment is for everyone.
The D.C. Project encourages women of all demographics and beliefs that find
common ground on this subject to link arms and take action.
Every year, a recurring theme during
the days that follow the time these women spend together on Capitol Hill is the
sincere admiration they walk away with for one another’s story. Instead of
allowing their differences to cause division, they embrace the belief that
Seeking to build bridges and break
barriers, the D.C. Project also hosts “two range days for members of Congress
and staff to meet with D.C. Project instructors to experience the culture of
the shooting community and learn more about firearms.” This hands-on
opportunity for individuals who might be afraid of guns or never been taught
how to use one properly is a chance for them to gain a new perspective. Many
are surprised to learn that everything the majority of gun-owners do revolves
around safety. This type of invitation is what is needed, not just on Capitol
Hill, but in our communities among our friends and family. Most gun-owners are
not the bad guys or criminals that the media often paints a picture of.
As the D.C. Project continues to grow
in supporters, the future is bright for bringing the initiative to the state
level. Dianna hopes to connect women interested in getting involved with their
corresponding D.C. Project state delegate. From there, plans to meet with representatives
in each capital can begin in an effort to start establishing relationships and
sparking conversations at a state and local level. Since the D.C. Project is
truly a grassroots initiative, with each woman covering her trip’s expenses,
financial support is always needed. Fundraisers, silent auctions, or solitary
donations are all welcome and allow for the D.C. Project to make an even
greater impact. For more information, visit their website or find them on
Facebook page: “The D.C. Project”