Javondlynn Dunagan is the owner of JMD Defense, a company focused on workplace safety, firearms training, and safety education. She founded JMD Defense in 2017 along with the Ladies of Steel Gun Club after retiring from her 25-year career as a United States probation officer in Chicago.
We spoke with Dunagan about the importance of firearm education and the programs she offers.
What was the driving force behind starting JMD Defense?
Throughout my career, I was afraid of firearms. I just did not have to carry a gun. When I became a supervisor, the last 15 years of my career, it wasn’t required. I signed up three different times for training and got scared and said, “Nope, I’m not interested.”
Then I married a police officer; so I was around guns all day. When we divorced, I called the job and said, “I’m ready to carry a gun now because I’m scared to be at home without protection.” I was the only person in the class. After having this one-on-one experience for the entire week with an excellent instructor, I fell in love with firearms.
When I started the business, initially I was just teaching concealed carry. That was my initial vision. I said [to myself], “Whenever I go to the gun range, I never see other Black women by themselves shooting or even in a group,” and that’s how the Ladies of Steel Gun Club came about.
What is the methodology behind concealed carry?
The whole mission behind concealed carry is if you choose to defend yourself out in public, then you have a right to carry that gun as long as you go through proper training.
What will they learn in the 16-hour class?
They’ll learn firearm safety, firearm storage, how to load a magazine, how to rack the slide, which is what you would need to do to chamber a round in the firearm. They’ll learn the mechanics of the firearm, how to shoot, the basic principles of marksmanship, the proper stance to proper grip, how to hold that firearm, how to line up your sights to make sure you hit your target. We talk about ammunition. We talk about cleaning a firearm. We talk about the Illinois laws that help people to understand where they can take their guns and what to do if they feel as though their life is in imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.
What are the membership benefits that come with Ladies of Steel Gun Club?
We meet once a month, and if I don’t bring in a speaker, we have a topic related to firearm education. Once a month we go to the gun range and we rent out the entire bay for two hours. A couple of my instructors and I are there as the ladies are learning to shoot, practicing and getting comfortable with their guns. The NRA has a marksmanship program and one of our instructors went through it and brought it back to our gun club.