By: Teresa Mull
Antonia Okafor is a young Second Amendment activist and founder of emPOWERed 2A, a non-profit organization that “educates and trains female students in self-defense and equips them with the skills to advocate for their 2A rights.”
GPM spoke to Okafor about her activism and why it’s so important for self-proclaimed “feminists” to embrace gun rights.
GPM Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming a 2A activist.
Antonia: I don’t have the background story of your typical Second Amendment rights activist. In fact, I voted for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. I was 18 the first time I voted for him. I had fully embraced the false belief that because he was black he would make life better for me as a fellow black American. It took a few public policy classes, an awareness of my lack of personal safety on college campuses, and yes, even a conversion of faith in Jesus Christ to change my attitudes.
In grad school, it was President Obama who conducted a national study that revealed the terrible epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. I realized I was not only unsafe, but as a true feminist, I could not permit an attitude that relied on others for my own personal safety. I soon became the southwest director of a pro-concealed carry group that helped pass and implement the campus carry law in Texas.
By that point, I realized that if I really wanted to empower my fellow female peers, then advocating for gun rights was an essential part of that conversation. I never turned back. Soon after, I started my own organization that filled a void I saw in the gun community. There are more young women just like me out there who think their gun rights are essential to their empowerment.
Founding EmPOWERed 2A was inevitable for me. And in 2017, we applied and incorporated as a 501c3. The last two years I have been across the country talking to young women and men about their Second Amendment rights. From UC-Berkeley to Harvard, thousands of students have heard me speak on this very passionate message. I have been blessed to find out that many of them agree with me. By the way, for those wondering, I voted for President Trump in 2016.
GPM What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a feminist and pro-gun?
Antonia: I am very cognizant of using the term ‘feminist’ in both progressive and center-right circles. The term ‘feminist’ and its meaning have been co-opted by the radical anti-gun, pro-abortion Left. But the woman’s liberation movement began with well-known pro-lifers like Susan B. Anthony. First-wave feminism is nothing like the modern feminism we see today. I aim to reclaim feminism by showing that true female empowerment protects life – both the unborn and the defenseless. Being pro-life and pro-self-defense is inherently pro-woman. That is why our organization’s slogan is “Gun Rights are Women’s’ Rights.”
GPM What issues do your organization focus on?
Antonia: EmPOWERed 2A is a national student organization for female students that seeks to educate and train women in the knowledge and skills of self-defense and equip them with the means to advocate for Second Amendment rights. We have chapters in high school and college campuses across America. Each state has a state chair leader led by a female student that calls their respective sate home.
The three main pillars of emPOWERed 2A are: educate, train, and advocate. Our “ETA,” if you will.
Educate: Our female students educate their peers about the policies and laws that keep women from protecting themselves. That can be a gun rights issue like campus carry or it can be as simple as educating the public that their schools don’t even allow non-lethal forms of defense like tasers and pepper spray. For those skeptical that a school wouldn’t allow that, research Massachusetts law; it bans all students from pepper spray because they deem it a ‘dangerous weapon.’
Train: Means that we provide a community of young women who all encourage each other to get the training they need so they won’t be a victim.
Advocate: And finally the advocacy component is critical to our mission because the vision of my organization is that each emPOWERed 2A leader will lobby, organize, and advocate for pro-self defense bills and legislation in their home state. Our inaugural class of state chairs include at least one female high school, college, or recent grad student ready to lead the charge for gun rights in their state. Our aim is to equip them with the communication skills, firearm, and self-defense weapon knowledge and lobbying know-how to be effective agents of change.
GPM What is your favorite way to practice self-defense?
Antonia: My favorite way to practice self-defense is to integrate Krav Maga with my firearm knowledge and skills. I only picked up a gun a little more than four years ago. I am definitely a testament to how an anti-gun girl who never saw a firearm in real life, in just a few years, can do a full 180.
One of my favorite things to do is gift my audience after a speech on a college campus with the Kimber pepper blaster. Kimber is a longtime partner of emPOWERed and gives away hundreds of pepper blasters so that I can give them to women who don’t feel safe on campus, but who are currently denied the right to carry a firearm. Unfortunately, I have to give away too many of them. But I’m thankful I am giving something that is a gel and doesn’t blow back on them like the aerosol pepper sprays of old.
GPM What are some of your favorite guns/shooting accessories?
Antonia: The bump stock. Just kidding! But it sickens me to no end that we have to fight for the right to get that option back.
My favorite gun…I am in love with my everyday carry gun, the Kimber Bel Air in .380.
More from Antonia:
If you would like to partner with emPOWERed 2a then reach out to me at Antonia@empowered2a.org.
Know of a female student who would like to become a member of emPOWERed 2A? Visit us at www.empowered2a.org.
If you would like to support the work we do then please make a tax-deductible donation as an emPOWERed sgustaining member of just $5 a month. Much less than what you spend on ammo one weeknight at the gun range.
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.