By Joseph P. Tartaro
Some gunowners are gun rights activists that keep informed and keep after their government representatives. Some gunowners wonder what’s happening. And other energetic, imaginative and determined gunowners make things happen.
Amanda Suffecool of Wayland, OH, is one of the latter. She is more than a firearms civil rights activists. She is a Renaissance woman working in many ways to bring the non-gun-owning public as well as casual gunowners in her whole community into sync with the right to keep and bear arms and the complete world of guns.
First, she is a married woman who works full time as a degreed manufacturing engineer. But in her “spare” time she wears a lot of different hats. She is the director of REALIZE Firearms Awareness Coalition (REALIZEfac.com), a not-for-profit team in Ohio that seeks to educate youth and adults, women and men, about the historical roots of the Second Amendment, to enhance public awareness and support for responsible gun ownership, with an emphasis on the broadest firearms education. She’s particularly focused on helping to educate women about guns because she sees them as the primary road to future generations.
By the way, Amanda is an NRA certified instructor qualified to teach: Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun; Home firearms safety; Personal Protection, and Refuse to Be a Victim. She is also a Range Safety Officer, and an ALICE (Active Shooter Response) instructor. And she is FEMA trained for emergency response.
Second, she is cohost with her brother, Rob Campbell, a gunsmith and firearms instructor, in a weekly, hour-long radio talk show aired every Sunday on WNIR (100.1 on the fm dial) in the Akron, OH, area and on Mondays on KRMA, an Internet radio station. Issues discussed on the show, called appropriately “Eye On The Target,” mostly focus on conversations about guns and related topics, especially safety, with learned guests from the local and national firearms community.
Third, she develops and produces monthly seminars and public events in pursuit of her mission as well as training and advanced shooting events designed to improve individual skills for self-defense and recreational enjoyment of firearms ownership. High on her list of program activities are firearms safety classes for teens.
If that’s not enough, she is always on the lookout for ways to work with other gun groups, regularly the National Rifle Association, plus local churches and schools. We met her in October 2015 when she attended the first start- up meeting for a new urban initiative sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation. She had heard about it from one of the professional instructors with whom she had worked on other educational events, and was eager to lend a hand. (More information on this new program is available elsewhere in this issue.)
Of course, someone as imaginative and energetic as Amanda is always working on new ideas, especially for women.
Currently on her bucket list are a car-shoot, a program on pepper-spray for self-defense and other specific advanced training programs for women. In each case, she interfaces with the most qualified available instructors, many of them people you have heard about or even sought out for intermediate and advanced firearms training.
Amanda’s latest foray into a concealed carry fashion show, held in conjunction with the Northeast Ohio Chapter of A Girl & a Gun, was a huge success on Sept. 17, 2015. Held at the Tanglewood Country Club in Chagrin Falls, the paid admission crowd was treated to a detailed self-defense presentation by Kathy Jackson, author of the book A Cornered Cat and creator of the corneredcat.com website, after welcoming remarks from the host organizations.
The fashion show featured a dozen real-life figured models—volunteers from the Girl & a Gun chapter—showing 31 different concealed carry systems, from a variety of traditional belt holsters, ankle holsters and gun carry purses to shoulder holsters, bra holsters, as well as concealment shirts, elastic belt and girdle-type holsters.
“We wanted women gunowners to know that there are many more safe and comfortable ways to carry concealed 24/7 than the first holster they see in a shop,” Amanda said.
What helped make the fashion show most practical was that prices were discussed in the presentation while posters provided the name and the manufacturer of each holster. Any woman attending could easily follow-up their interest in any one of the carry options specifically designed for a women’s physiology that caught her interest.
Also on the practical side have been the free appraisal fairs that Amanda and her REALIZEfac group organized at the Ravenna VFW post, most recently last June, in which several independent firearms dealers participated. The one afternoon and evening weekday event gives both women and men an opportunity to bring in their collectibles from the closet, a relative’s gift, a recent gun show find, inherited guns and miscellaneous items to find out what they are worth on the current market. There is no buying or selling pressure, just simple, down-to-earth price quotes from a choice of dealers that would help someone to set a value on their firearms collection, inherited pieces, or recent acquisitions for insurance evaluations, wills, etc.
Then there have been police and community seminars in which communities are engaged in question and answer dialogues where representatives from law enforcement discuss their thoughts about recent changes in police strategies, training and practice as well as public concerns about drugs, cameras and changes in police-community relations. Contemporary issues involving changes in both police and community attitudes, interaction and video cameras were all on the table.
But there seems to be no end to the variety of the programs Amanda organizes.
A busy schedule for 2016 is already in the works, beginning with the second annual Preppers Ball and Charity Raffle in Tallmadge, OH, on Feb. 13. Billed as Northeast Ohio’s central learning place for preparedness, the program includes product exhibits and vendors, a hefty schedule of educational seminars, experts sharing their knowledge and experience in many facets of the preparedness lifestyle, plus prizes and raffles. Hundreds attended the 2015 event and an even larger turnout is expected in February.
These are only a sampling of the many programs Amanda has previously created and is developing through REALIZEfac. Is she slowing down now that she has been revealed. Not hardly.
She recently took a vacation with her husband so that she could complete the book she’s writing. One would imagine the subject has to do with guns somehow.