FOX 66 11-10-15
Sheridan Arms is a Saginaw shooting range and on most days it’s filled with guys.
But on the second Tuesday of each month, in a small room upstairs, it’s ladies night.
“More and more women are feeling empowered to make their own choices and to be educated on the choices that they make and that’s one thing the Well-Armed Women chapter does,” Aija Hall said.
Hall is the founder of the Great Lakes Bay Region Chapter of the Well Armed Woman. She started the group after taking on shooting as a sport with her husband.
“We went and tried out a few guns and got some instruction and we really liked it,” she said.
The chapter aims to educate, equip and empower women on firearms.
“They’re learning everything,” Hall said. “Some of them just want to shoot for sport and for fun and some of them want to learn more about staying safe.”
Which is one of the reasons Sharon Vlier joined the group.
“I believe in the second amendment and I believe women should always be able to defend themselves, always,” she said.
Viler is a domestic abuse survivor.
“I was victim at one time and never again. I have educated myself in many ways and this is just another step,” she said.
In Saginaw County women with concealed pistol licenses have increased from 163 in 2010 to 532 in 2014. In Genesee County that number more than doubled with almost 1300 licenses issued to women last year.
Viler is taking steps to become one of those women.
“A lot of it has to do with, women feel threatened…and how do you protect yourself?” Vlier said. “The quickest, easiest way…is a gun.”
But Michigan State Police Lieutenant David Kaiser says it doesn’t mean you’re actually protected.
“If you’re going to carry a firearm it’s one of the things you bring to every altercation,” he said. “If you bring a gun, it’s potentially a gun fight because you brought the fire arm.”
New data from the Michigan Department of Community Health ranks Genesee and Saginaw Counties in the top five areas for gun-related homicides.
“Just because you have a handgun doesn’t mean you can use it for everything,” Kaiser said.
Being a good shot is important to gun training but Hall says it’s what’s in your mind that will really keep you safe.
“You really need to have the correct mindset and the correct training on how to use your firearm,” Hall SAID. “You can’t just take your class and never come to the range again.”
Right now Michigan is ranked 10 in the country when it comes to the number of women killed by men. A statistic that hits close to home for Vlier.
“Guns aren’t the best thing for everybody,” Vlier said. “For me it’s a good choice.”
The same goes for hall, a well armed woman.