Mass shootings in the U.S., among other things, have left many people feeling uncertain about safety in our country.
A new report released on July 9th from the Crime Prevention Research Center reveals that 11.1 million Americans hold concealed carry permits - up from an estimated 4.6 million in 2007. And experts say women make up a growing percentage of that number.
I grew up in a home with no guns. I always felt protected. I still do. But, I made the decision months ago that I need to be realistic that guns are a part of society, whether I like it or not, and I feel it is in my best interest to be educated and prepared - not scared at the sight of one - should I ever face a situation in which my life is threatened and using a gun is my only option.
During my research for obtaining my conceal carry permit, I was invited to the monthly meetings of The Well Armed Woman Lincoln Chapter at Thunder Alley Indoor Shooting Range. According to Julie Delp, the leader of the chapter, women shooters, and especially conceal carry permit holders, are the fastest growing demographic group in the industry. A trend she predicts will continue for some time.
"Given the fact that we are becoming more responsible for our own safety, and I think that women are getting out and getting the training they need," Delp says.
And the consensus is the same across the Cornhusker state. Teresa Roddy of The Well Armed Woman Omaha Chapter told me that, from her experience in co-teaching conceal carry classes the last 3 years, the female to male ratio has definitely increased to around 40% women in each class.
Besides supervised practice on the range, each month, a guest speaker joins the women. This meeting, it was 36-year veteran law enforcement officer, Craig Schnieder of BCA Tactical Training, who spoke about the law enforcement perspective on women conceal carry permit holders.
Schnieder says, "a lot of women, and a lot of people in society have come to the realization that they are responsible for their own protection."
"There's a lot of firearms in this world, and the more training and safety you know, the better off you are - the better equipped you are - to manage," Delp adds.
Every precaution is taken as a Well Armed Woman. Safety is at the core of the class, and gun handling in general. Beginners and the more advanced go into the range separately, making sure each woman is comfortable in their controlled environment.
Delp concludes, "If there's a firearm around, and you are afraid of it, you need to get the experience to handle it and understand it. The more knowledge you have, the less fear you're gonna have."
It takes a village to train these ladies to be Well Armed. Other leaders of the chapter include Heather Mitchell, Joyce Lauer, and Victoria Hilton.
According to the Nebraska State Patrol, as of today there are 34, 038 conceal carry permit holders in the state. Soon, it will be 34, 039.