By: Bren Brown
I grew up in quiet. I don’t mean the kind of quiet you hear in church. I mean the quiet of 1000 acres in the middle of nowhere. The kind of quiet where you hear crickets chirp. You can hear the breeze rustle leaves. If an airplane traverses the air space, leaving a long chalk mark of trail vapor in the sky, you can mildly hear its engine boasting its exotic travel to the recesses of this big blue planet. That was outside, but inside offered little more in the way of clatter. Just the sounds of living. A small house in the middle of nowhere that housed five humans, three girls as children, and one bathroom. No air conditioner noise until late in my high school years. The whir of that window unit that came at that time, was surely what I imagined the harps of heaven must sound like. With steam rising off a hot stove during canning season, and temperatures of 100 plus outside it was nirvana streaming from that noisy little thing. Not a radio played. The television, with three channels, ran only after school with Little House on the Prairie and went silent following until the evening news. This was when we were sure to keep our little mouths clamped tight. The news was not to be missed and my father’s hearing (from years on a combine) were not the best. Silence was golden in our house and what I remember most were the sounds of nature outside, where I stayed most of the time.
I’m noise adverse.
As an adult, I had boy/girl twins, always separated into different classrooms to develop their own personalities and independence. Because of this, as a mom who came to every, single holiday party, I would go back and forth between their rooms during the parties. The screaming of holiday games, gift unwrapping and crafts were a child’s delight. If I’m being honest, more than once I spent extra time going between their rooms as a ‘shared mommy’ so I could soak in a reprieve of the ear assault that such holiday jubilance creates.
My childhood and my time as a mother, had a unique bearing on my personality and what I lean into as a mission in this third chapter to my life. I grew up on a farm with a strong belief in firearms and the Second Amendment. Not as much from a “founding fathers” perspective, as much as a common need and sense perspective. When you grow up in the wild, sometimes the wild requires you have a firearm for defense. But, also, shooting sports were an integral part of the farming community that I call home. Every hunting season, my social media channels are filled with the smiles of a first hunt, or the mighty hunt that brought down the “big buck.” Being a mother brought a new appreciation of protection. Something very visceral happens in a woman once she produces life. A “mama bear” protection seems to deploy unwittingly, launching you to a need to protect worldview that comes from nowhere.
Fast forward and what a strange turn of events that I, the small-town girl who grew up in a creek bed outside, would own a firearms retail facility and shooting range. They are LOUD. Even with our incredible noise dampening, live fire on the range is loud, and there’s no way around it. Perhaps a small reason for my love of suppressors, but one important part of why I love this new wonder from a company called Byrna. While the suppressor mitigates the noise of live fire, and makes me more comfortable, the Byrna requires no hearing protection at all! A pepper ball launcher known as the “un-gun”. A launcher that can:
- Protect you up to 60 feet with accuracy and has stopping power with zero recoil;
- Give you a very effective self-defense tool without the lifetime risks of deploying lethal ammunition;
- Mitigate risk to small children getting ahold of something more lethal or depressed teens or adults in your home having access to lethal tools; and,
- Be comfortably concealed and operated just like a traditional semi-automatic firearm.
A product that is so impressive that law enforcement across the country is giving up valuable space on their belts for the Byrna. LE (law enforcement) are requesting that the Byrna AR platform be placed in their squad car trunks in lieu of the sandbag guns. This product excited me from the moment I understood what it was and how it worked. If law enforcement believe in its effectiveness, then I can get behind embracing a product that does not replace firearms but supplements the products available in addition to your firearm.
Let’s face it. Some situations require lethal stopping power. And, historically, the firearm rights covered in the Second Amendment cover self-defense, but also have to do with protecting us from tyrannical government. It sounds ludicrous to those lulled into believing those horrific things cannot again be a part of human history, but I am not lulled.
In my humble opinion, the Byrna launcher (sometimes referred to as the “un-gun”) is the most exciting product to hail as “new” in the firearms section of our 35,000 square feet retail locations since the inception of Frontier Justice. Our team has been developing across the Midwest for the better part of the last decade of my life. Frontier Justice. All things firearms and fashion. I have a large part in running the company, but my love started from the fashion side of things. I also created the interiors for women. The product mix has been for WHOLE families, with particular attention to detail that would relax and welcome the females of every household. Every household, not just households that already boast an array of firearms and skills related to self-defense and the shooting/hunting sports. When I saw the Byrna on the sales floor, a buyer had brought in without my knowledge, I was immediately intrigued and bought one. But I will admit, it wasn’t until months later that I really understood what I was in possession of.
So, what is this Byrna un-gun and how does it work?
The Byrna is built to operate exactly like a semi-automatic firearm and looks like a firearm. However, it holds a CO2 container for power and the magazines are loaded with several different options in ammunition: kinetic (basically very fancy plastic balls), pepper (think regular pepper agent) and pepper with nerve agents. Legality on the rounds you can use vary by state, but you can essentially take it to ANY state with the right rounds. You can fly with it (checked bag). You do not need a background check OR a license to purchase or own the Byrna. You can buy practice rounds. You can shoot the launchers virtually anywhere with practice rounds. There are more than 120 parts inside of this launcher—the technology is astounding and if you have conjured up a paint ball gun, put the idea away. This is SO much more in terms of design and functionality that the comparison is like saying let’s shoot airsoft vs. let’s go shoot some full-auto.
Why, you ask, would a woman who owns a range want to sell a product that can be used anywhere? I tell you my why—I think this is, hands down, the single most progressive, impressive, effective, and easy to use self-defense tool, maybe ever. I am passionate about women’s safety. I am a woman, but I also raised a woman and am surrounded by women. I am not lulled into the naivety that many Americans have closed their eyes and wandered into where they believe their worlds are “so safe” that they don’t want to, or must, think about their safety. In many areas, we have a movement afoot to “defund the police” a proof that citizens are losing sight of reality. I’m a Christian and I believe we have three categories of humans. Sheep, most of the “herd”; sheepdogs, those determined to protect and serve (think police, military, a lot of dads and moms); and wolves (those intent of evil). I’ve personally had interactions with wolves. I blogged about once being chased through a parking garage only to be saved by running into a crowd. I worked with a woman early in my non-profit career, who was brutally raped in her home by a complete stranger. He cut her from end to end and left her to die. She only survived by holding her intestine inside herself and crawling to a neighbor’s house. And, most recently, I felt very moved by the young Iowa girl, Mollie Tibbets, who was slain while out running by an illegal immigrant.
Unfortunately, every single woman has some story she has heard or can tell. Reality is that women will never be as strong as men. If they are attacked by a “wolf” then the best chances are the speed in which she fights back and brings violence, and that, unfortunately, is not how women usually think or act. If women thought this way naturally, you wouldn’t have a litany of case history where rape victims are found dead with the perpetrator’s skin under her nails. Instead, you would find a string of wolves whose eyes had been plucked out. Her hands were on his face—yet she did not consider plucking out his eyes. Women do not think like this unless they have been intentionally forced to. You can ‘women lib’ me until the cows come home, and I assure you that you will find no woman who is more passionate about women’s rights than I am. I spent several years as the Director of Development of a battered women’s shelter, raising enough money to rebuild the largest shelter in the Kansas City metro before staying home to be a mom to my twins. Now I have re-entered the workforce as a President of the fastest growing middle market firearms retailer in the country. I believe in women. I believe in women in ALL capacities having played many roles, and I believe in tools that will help them level the playing field the day the wolf comes prowling their way.
Why the Byrna?
I’m a runner. I do not run with a firearm; despite some scary situations I have encountered.
I told you that I am the President of a firearms company. It’s not just any company, it’s my company—my husband and I started Frontier Justice nearly a decade ago and we are not hobby players. We felt a calling and put every asset we had into the business. Needless to say, a lot is riding on it. Since I am not able to practice with the frequency that is recommended due to time constraints, I would prefer to not carry lethally when I am distracted while running. No one can risk an accident with a firearm under any circumstances. I don’t want the responsibility or the risk of taking it on or off or during long runs. I carry a knife, an alarm, sometimes pepper spray. Pepper spray is hard to practice, and wind is a factor (unless you take a class like ours, Safe Without a Firearm which I developed after the Mollie Tibbets tragedy). You must have good aim. They must be close, as with the knife, a very visceral tool to use. When I found out this launcher, the “un-gun” could be shot like a firearm, with no lethality, at 60 feet with accuracy and I could practice with it…. I was sold.
Then I shot one. And, let me tell you this will change the face of women’s self-defense. Period. It’s quiet; it’s controlled; it’s easy and there is no recoil. It operates exactly like a firearm, and you can practice regularly in your back yard.
I watched a law enforcement presentation on the Byrna, and I watched the same thing happen with these officers that happened with me. Skepticism was completely dispelled the minute they were able to shoot the launcher and see the potential. The accuracy, the distance, the luxury of stopping a perpetrator cold non-lethally. It’s a game changer. Our police force, the protectors, do not want to shoot anyone. Firearms owners do not want to shoot anyone. I can completely promise you that I don’t know a single mother who wants to kill anyone. When a bullet leaves a gun, two lives are changed forever, and although sometimes necessary, if you can choose a non-lethal step in between, it is a great option in today’s world!
I have many friends, acquaintances, and women who I meet in store that just don’t want, or for some reason within the home, cannot have a firearm. A depressed teen that they don’t want to have access to a firearm; small children they cannot trust will follow the rules if a firearm is in the house or they are just flat out terrified of the responsibility of practice, storage, and education with a traditional firearm.
My dad stopped operating that combine years back, and passed the first year we opened Frontier Justice. He never got to see our stores, but I’m sure he would be proud of the 2A mission. My mother has been to Frontier Justice and we outfitted her with a .22 for home protection. It wasn’t our first choice but it was the caliber that she felt she could comfortably handle. As the years pass by, she has been 6 years a widow, and her age continues to steal away her abilities in various ways. Her hands have canned and crotcheted through 60 years and the arthritis makes operating a firearm more difficult. Her reflexes and responses are not as good as they once were and she has fallen twice in the last year. It is time that we consider a Byrna for her so that she can feel comfortable in operating her own self defense with minimal risks. We know the police response time to her (and to anyone) requires she have something on hand to keep her safe, and the Byrna is a great option for many aging Americans.
The Byrna will never replace traditional firearms, nor would I EVER suggest it do so.
I vehemently believe in the Second Amendment as do the great professionals running the Byrna corporation. From the CEO, the Development Engineers to the CMO, they all own firearms and love to shoot. Firearms are a first choice. But, if firearms aren’t feasible for the person or task, we want everyone to have options that they are completely comfortable with for protection. And there are places and situations where firearms are illegal. You cannot carry a firearm into many businesses or schools, but the Byrna is not a firearm. It’s a great tool to add to the arsenal of choices for American homes as well. There are home defense shotgun platforms and AR platforms, as well as the traditional handgun. I predict this is a great gift for a lot of women, and then once everyone shoots it in the household that we get repeat buyers because the men of the household realize the real value for themselves as well. They will add it to their tools, in addition to their firearm, for the value of having a choice for non-lethal.
The Byrna is starting to be referred as the “gateway gun” too. It’s a great tool to allow children to learn form and firearms safety before going to actual firearms. Additionally, it allows those more uncomfortable with firearms to learn safely and at their own speed, while still having protection. In the same way that firearms owners will add Byrnas to their choices, I also think we will see people with only Byrnas adding to their “toolbelt” the traditional firearm when they see how easy and fun they can be to use for sport.
It just makes sense.