More women packing heat - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

More women packing heat

 By Sheila Gray – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - More people than ever before are carrying concealed weapons in Ohio and Kentucky, and local experts say the bigger numbers translate into more women with gun licenses.

Sarah Wolf of College Hills started carrying for her job.

"I travel for work all the time, and when I started traveling, my husband encouraged me to take the class," she said.

Sarah's husband Greg says, "it's the only deterrent to people who carry weapons who should not carry weapons."

Ohio and Kentucky both require residents who want to carry a concealed weapon to complete a training class.

Retired Cincinnati police officer Tom Wood and self defense expert Chris Adams teach two-day classes, focusing on Ohio's concealed handgun law at Woodhill Training in Miamitown.

Wood says when he opened in 2004, all of his students were men. Now about a third in every class are women.

His classes also specialize in personal safety.

"It's just a different world from what I grew up in and definitely from what my parents grew up in," says Woodhill student Hannah Macklin.

The number of concealed carry licenses issued in Ohio has been steadily growing since 2006. The Ohio Attorney General's office says more than 56,000 permits were granted in 2009, the last year for which records are available.

Since Ohio's conceal carry law took effect in 2004, the state has issued more than 199,000 permanent gun licenses.

The Kentucky State Police says since 2005, the Bluegrass State has also seen a steady rise in gun licenses issued, with a total of more than 171,000 since the law took effect in 1996.

While the states don't keep records of whether gun licenses are issued to men or women, the Hamilton County Sheriff's department says women make up about 15 percent of the residents who are licensed to carry.

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

When you apply for a gun license in Ohio or Kentucky, you don't have to give a reason, so there's no research on why the numbers have been steadily rising for the past several years.

However, I did ask several people with backgrounds in law enforcement, and there are a couple of common theories.

Some fear their right to carry will be taken away, and they want to make sure they have that permit in hand, but the more popular reason seems to be people's awareness about crime and the knowledge that police can't be everywhere.

It's that fear of becoming a victim, which some experts believe is heightening people's desire to have one more way to protect themselves and their families.

Former Cincinnati Police Officer Susan Butler doesn't carry now that she's a civilian. She's all for the right, but she has a warning for people considering it: "You have to be ready to use it because there's only one reason why you're carrying a gun. You just have to be a real responsible person and be prepared."

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