More woman carrying guns, experts say - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

More woman carrying guns, experts say

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By Brigida Mack - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -- More women that ever before are packing heat, according to experts. In fact, an estimated 15 million women in the United States are licensed to carry a firearm.

"When I started traveling, my husband encouraged me to take the class," said Sarah Wolf who was initially hesitant to buy a gun.

But, a couple of months after she started packing heat on a regular basis, Wolf says she feels more confident.

"I do," she said. "I bought a 22, something I would fire."

North Carolina law requires residents who want to carry a concealed weapon to complete a training class. Larry Hyatt owns Hyatt Gun Shop in west Charlotte and says he's definitely seeing the definite trend of more women packing heat.

"It's a huge difference," said Hyatt. "When we first were in business, maybe 3% of our customers were women. Now it's 15% or more and it's growing.

In fact, Hyatt says an average of 50 women visit his store each day.

"They've taken it upon themselves," he said. "You know, the police can't be with me; I don't have a bodyguard. What can I do to make me feel safer and how can I sleep at night. And they're turning to a firearm."

 North Carolina doesn't keep records of whether gun licenses are issued to men or women, but the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's department issued nearly 14,000 gun permits in 2010. More than 3,800 of them were for concealed weapons.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation says 70% of retailers saw an increase in female customers in 2009.

Hyatt says the gun industry has taken notice.

"Even guns are being designed specifically for women," he said. "Pocketbooks that hold concealed weapons are being designed for women."

In North Carolina, you have to give a reason when you apply for a gun permit. There are four on the application: protection, collecting, hunting or target shooting. You have to check at least one.

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