More Women Pack Pistols?

When she moved from California to Arizona, Judy Dutko, had a short list of must-dos upon her arrival in her new home: obtain a driver's license, join a church and register for a gun.

"I refuse to be a victim, so basically that's why I got interested," said Dutko who is in her 50s. "Most people will go through their life and never have a problem but if you're prepared, then you can take care of a situation."

The retired history teacher is part of what appears to be a growing number of women who view carrying a weapon as an essential part of their safety, which has led the firearms industry to offer women only training classes, magazines and clothing for female gun owners.

"We get calls from women who didn't grow up around firearms … yet they have an interest in their personal safety … and it kind of goes from there. We've seen such an increase in participation in our programs," said NRA spokesperson Kelly Hobbs. "It does seem to at least stem from that interest in protecting their families and themselves."

Although, critics claim guns may not improve your safety.

According to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, if you have a gun at home, it's at least 20 times more likely to end up accidentally shooting you than it is to protect you from an intruder.

Still, women like Dutko feel safer with a firearm.

While there is no one statistic regarding female gun ownership nationwide, just look at the product racks in an outdoor sports store and it's apparent women are shopping.

"I have a holster purse," said Dutko. "They're very sharp. I don't want to look masculine I don't want to wear fatigues, plus I don't even hunt … but there is more and more out there for women."

"We got really serious about it about three years ago," said Browning technical apparel product manager Mark Francis. "We tried to react to the demand that we're getting … more dealers are saying more women are getting into the sport."

When the 109-year-old, Utah-based gun company began offering shooting clothes and hunting apparel for women, it had to create more than just specific sizes. The women demanded more colors then the men, with changes each season. "It just follows the fashion trends. If lavenders and pinks are in, that's what they want," said Francis.

Gun Owners With Sass

One night, Mary Thompson, 68, was driving home and noticed a car that seemed to be following her vehicle.

"I recognized that if these fellows had been able to get me off the road, I was a dead duck," said Thompson.

She was not a gun owner, but decided it was time she armed herself for protection -- now Thompson pops a pistol in her purse when she feels her safety may be at risk. When she started going to classes and researching firearms, she found few resources specifically geared toward ladies in this somewhat masculine field.

She met other women who also felt left out and began forming the organization Second Amendment Sisters, known more simply as SAS, for which she now serves as president.

The group offers women's only firearms classes, and Thompson said she also uses the group to change the stereotypes about women and guns which range from Hollywood images of sexy spies, to some unflattering images.

"What we still fight is the image of the big-haired, snaggle-toothed, chewing tobacco woman from the Deep South," said Thompson. "We don't hear much of that anymore."

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