Myisha McGahee-Wooten is a devout Muslim who dresses in full hijab, along with an opaque face veil covering everything but her eyes.
But strapped to her tiny waist is something decidedly less holy — a Glock 19.
Islamophobia is real. That, though, is only part of the reason McGahee-Wooten carries. After being robbed at gunpoint back in 2015, she finds that carrying a firearm makes her feel safer.
A 27-year-old divorced mother of two, she has been licensed to carry for three years. McGahee-Wooten, who moved as a child to Philadelphia and now lives in Germantown, also operates an Instagram business called Muslimah Concealed Carry that not only encourages Muslim women to arm themselves but teaches firearm safety.
“She’s responsible in the way that she does it,” said Aliya Khabir, a communications consultant who is also Muslim, female, black, and licensed to carry. “She gives out information about the law in each state and what you should know about a firearm prior to purchasing one.”
Khabir added: “She educates. It’s not just ‘This Glock is really cool.’ ”
McGahee-Wooten, who works for the U.S. Postal Service, toyed with the idea for years before actually applying for a gun permit and purchasing a firearm.
She sometimes thinks of her ex-husband, Bobby Jenkins, who was killed in an armed robbery in February while making a pizza delivery, and wonders how things might have gone down had he been armed.
McGahee-Wooten has never had to fire her weapon in self-defense. But she’s ready should the situation arise.
“I’m standing up against somebody hurting me or somebody else,” McGahee-Wooten told me this week. “I’m standing up against somebody taking my life. I’m being brave and protecting myself.”
I learned about McGahee-Wooten one day when casually scrolling through Instagram. At first, I was taken aback at the sight of her dressed all in black and holding a gun. There are way too many illegal guns on the street, and I’m not for glamorizing gun culture.
But I could see that many of McGahee-Wooten’s posts promote the accessories she sells to female Muslim gun owners, particularly those who are covered as she is. One is a full-length vest that slips easily over an outfit to conceal a gun holster. Another is pearl trimmed. And there’s a striking one with bell-shaped sleeves. She also sells ankle holsters and a waist-band gun holder that McGahee-Wooten wears under her two-piece garments.
“When I decided that I wanted to start carrying my firearm, I didn’t really know or have a lot of options that would still allow me to dress modestly, you know, with my over garment and such,” McGahee-Wooten explained. “So I really did my research and started trying to find products that would work best with me covering [my body] and at the same time being able to carry my gun with me.
“So, after I found some, I wanted to share the things that I had found with other people,” she added. “So, that’s kind of what made me get into selling them to other people, making them more easily accessible for others.”
I like that she’s trying to teach women to do things the right way. Too many people obtain guns illegally, never obtain permits, and don’t bother to learn about proper storage or gun safety. At the top of her page is a link to an application for a Pennsylvania gun permit. McGahee-Wooten hopes to soon start offering her own firearm safety classes.
“She’s not doing anything other communities aren’t doing," Khabir pointed out. “All of this information is out there already. She is specifically focused on her community. At this point, we are active targets for people’s hate and their hate crimes.”