More Women Pack Pistols?

While she said it is not aggressive in encouraging women to arm themselves, the group is dedicated to a strong, literal interpretation of the Second Amendment.

"We are a one-issue organization and that issue is self-defense is a basic human right," said Thompson. "We believe that women are often targeted by criminals because usually we're smaller, weaker, and we are interested in educating women and offering them the possibility of owning and carrying a gun if that's what interests them."

Dutko has a more personal reason for supporting gun rights: "I taught U.S. history. I'm a strict constitutionalist. The Second Amendment is No. 2!"

From Protection to a Pastime

What Thompson didn't expect when she began carrying a gun for security, was how much fun she would have aiming at targets.

"Its fun to target shoot, its fun to skeet shoot, all sorts of things," said Thompson. "It's amazing how many, many times women have gone from being almost hysterical about it to becoming very good shooters and loving it."

"Personally I like to go to a very controlled environment," said Dutko. "I like to go to a shooting parlor where you have an individual booth."

The sport is a competitive one where Thompson said women clearly have a place. "We have better hand to eye coordination and No. 2, we listen to instruction," said Thompson.

They are certainly not alone in this activity. The NRA offers women-only hunting trips, and according to Hobbs, the association's firearms training classes for women have grown from 13 clinics five years ago to the current offering of 200 classes nationwide. She's also noticed firearms companies catering to this group.

"They realize that women do enjoy the shooting sports and they're willing to spend money on products specially designed for them. And that's everything from eyewear to clothing, firearms, purses designed to carry firearms," said Hobbs.

"One of the places here in town -- ladies shoot free on Thursday," said Dutko.

But others question this marketing as nothing more than a push for more business.

"They are actively marketing to women these days … focusing on the idea that you're women so you're smaller then men," said Zach Ragbourn. He's a spokesman for the Brady Campaign and said it's "troubling that they would use fear to sell a product that doesn't improve your safety … whether or not carrying a gun is an effective deterrent is still an open question."

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