State data show record number of women have conceal carry permit - FOX 35 News Orlando

State data show record number of women have conceal carry permit

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The debate over gun rights wages on.

Right now in Florida, more women are taking a side by choosing their Second Amendment right. We're talking about women like Shirley Hedge.

Hedge is quite a shot.  She bought two guns four months ago. She said it's something she's wanted to do ever since her husband passed away three years ago.

"I felt that I was pretty much alone, except for God," said Hedge. "I pray and ask him to protect me, and then I have to do my part."

The retired nurse joined a Lake County gun club last fall. They call themselves the "Pennbrooke Pistoleros."  Every member has a nickname.  Hedge's nickname is "Shotgun Shirley." 

The group goes to the Gun Shop and Gun Range in Leesburg once a week to sharpen their skills.  Hedge has a .22 and a .380.  She received her conceal carry permit a few weeks ago.
For Hedge, it's all about self defense.

"The last thing anybody wants to do is to shoot somebody," said Hedge.

Shop owner Gordon Schorer said more seniors like Hedge are buying guns.

"They tell you, 'you know. I'm afraid of crime," said Schorer. "They need something to protect themselves."

Their growing need has increased Schorer's sales exponentially.

"Way more than double," said Schorer. "Triple. A lot more."

Hedge is part of a growing trend.  State data show as of the end of March, more than 34,000 women, aged 66 and older, now hold a conceal carry permit.  That's a state record.  According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, that's a 613 percent increase for that age group since 2004.  It's a 455 percent increase for women in the youngest bracket:  21-35.

Currently, women make up 21 percent of conceal carry permit holders. That's the highest annual totals in the state's 25 year history of Florida's conceal weapon program.  For Jane Templin, it's all about being prepared.

"That's the Boy Scout motto: be prepared," said Templin. "I was a Girl Scout and didn't want to just sell cookies."

Templin has two guns. Her ex-husband bought her first one, a .22 in the 90s. She got her conceal carry permit and a .48 about six years ago.

"Love it, "said Templin. "It's just heavy enough that it doesn't have a lot of recoil."

Both women have heard shots from friends and co-workers about their guns, but said their feeling of safety outweighs any con.

"Don't hate me, because I like it," said Templin. "It's fun! It's exciting! It's different!  But it can also be helpful."

"I understand where both sides are coming from," said Hedge. "But the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."

"It might save my life or save somebody else's someday," said Templin.

It's a safe bet Jane won't be the only girl with a gun in Central Florida. Shotgun Shirley's friends want to become seasoned shooters, too.

"Several of them have come in with me to the 'Pistoleros' and want to join."


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