A couple of recent reports of shoppers being victimized at a local grocery store has 38-year-old Elizabeth Finch, a self-employed National Rifle Association certified instructor, offering to teach women gun skills for their own safety.
On Jan. 24, a woman reportedly distracted a shopper at the Kroger on Whitlock Avenue while an accomplice pick-pocketed the woman’s purse.
Then, the following Monday evening, a teenage boy reportedly slapped the buttocks of another female shopper who was bent over to reach a low shelf at the same grocery store.
The woman was not treated medically, but was given a bag of frozen peas by the Kroger staff to numb her stinging backside.
Finch is the organizer for the local chapter of The Well Armed Woman, a national organization established to educate gun-owning women.
“It is really my passion that every woman can defend herself,” Finch said.
Women are more susceptible to being targets, she said. But instead of being paranoid, women should be conscious of their surroundings.
“Situational awareness is of utmost importance,” Finch said. “Know who and what is around you at all times.”
Finch, who grew up around guns and is now a collector, said she practices at a shooting range each week.
“It is a perishable skill,” Finch said. She said if gun owners don’t continuously practice, their skills will degrade over time.
Since July, Finch has led a group of 30 “diverse” women who shoot together on the first Sunday evening of every month at the GA Firing Line, a range off of Canton Road near the corner of Piedmont Road.
“We have ladies in their 20s and 70s,” Finch said. “I want to make shooting accessible to every woman who wants to learn.”
Cobb woman permitted to conceal and carry
Officer David Baldwin with the Marietta Police Department said a report on the latest pickpocket incident at the Kroger was filed by an officer who responded to the 911 call but made no arrest.
As for Monday’s incident, Glynn Jenkins, Director of Communications and Public Relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division, said the inappropriate contact against the shopper was taken very seriously and the police were notified.
“The safety of our customers and associates is first and foremost,” Jenkins said.
A 17-year-old boy from Marietta was arrested on charges of sexual battery for assaulting the shopper, Baldwin said.
Even when Finch is grocery shopping, she tries not to be in the radius of anyone that can be a potential threat. Finch said she will go down another aisle to avoid a suspicious person.
One time, while leaving a Kroger store in the East Lake area with her husband, Finch said she was leery of a man in the parking lot who was staring at them.
“He seemed very intent on us,” Finch said.
Finch chose to walk a longer way around the parking lot to their car.
Most of the time while out in public, Finch has a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun holstered on her hip, but would only draw the gun as a last resort.
Finch said a woman must be comfortable carrying a gun before attempting to be armed in public areas.
“It is a personal choice,” Finch said.