Women buying guns for self-defense:

Calera, Alabama — At a gun range in the middle of Alabama, Gracie Barhill is getting familiar with her month-old Smith & Wesson 9mm.

“I’m young. I’m a girl,” she said. “I never know when a danger is going to come.”

The 19-year-old is taking a self-defense firearms course, “Girls, Guns & Gear,” designed for women who are wary of threats.

“It’s absolutely undeniable, the world is changing and they want to stay ahead of it,” said Scott Recchio, a firearms instructor at the range.

Last year, one-third of first-time gun buyers in the US were women, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The trade association said that from 2005 to 2020, there was a 77% increase in female gun ownership.

Emma Boutwell, who is taking the women-only class, said she had never fired a gun until recently.

Boutwell said, “I need to learn how to defend myself.”

Gun instructor Beverly Eldredge teaches women marksmanship, gun safety and situational awareness.

Eldred said that giving instructions to women is different than to men because “women listen better than men.”

“Women are just as quick to listen and apply what they’re being told,” she said.

According to one study, among black women, the firearm homicide rate has more than tripled since 2010. According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey, nearly 30% of new female gun owners today are black.

Nikita Gordon, who owns Cute and Cocky, a women’s clothing line fashionably designed to conceal a gun, said she has a self-defense plan for both indoor and outdoor scenarios.

“I think most women, especially women of color, should have these plans,” she said.

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