More women are packing heat in Tennessee, according to numbers released Thursday at the Tennessee Department of Public Safety. Carry permits issued to women have gone up over 55 percent since 2008, officials said.
A lot of women taking defensive classes or beginner’s gun classes said they don’t feel safe and want to learn how to protect themselves. Last year, more than 32,000 women got carry permits in Tennessee, officials said.
Lynda Gibb said she got her carry permit a few months ago. She said she believes the jump is also due to the rise in street violence.
“With the recession, I think (it) has brought a lot of that on. Some people are desperate and you never know when it’s going to be you,” said Gibb. “So, I think (it’s for) safety reasons, just to be safe.”
Carter Shooting Supply owner Kristi Manning started a Chattanooga chapter for Well Armed Women to get ladies more comfortable with guns.
“I hear a lot of the ladies are scared that it’s going to go off on its own. They have to understand that it doesn’t go off until you put your finger on the trigger and pull it,” said Manning.
Certain guns are popular with women for the size and ability to conceal under clothing, such as a hammerless revolver.
“You can shoot this as many times as you want until it runs out because it won’t get caught,” said Tammy Brannon, an instructor with Shooter’s Depot. “A regular revolver has the hammer back here, and it can get caught in your clothes. So, you can only shoot it once.”
Gun salesmen said 9-millimeter and .380-caliber pistols are also common among women.
With more women shooting guns, companies are marketing toward them with pink handles, holsters and other feminine looks.
Options for women looking to learn from other women about guns include the Well Armed Women group, which meets at Carter Shooting Supply monthly. For those who may not be comfortable with guns, Shooter’s Depot offers a class called Defensive Divas, in which an instructor teaches defensive moves against a possible attacker.
By Briona Arradondo