Violence against women is on the rise and across West Michigan and gun range owners say the number of women applying for their Concealed Pistol Licenses or Concealed Carry Permit (CCW) is going up right along with it.
“I know when we first opened our doors 9 years ago it was very rare that we`d see a women even come in the store and you know, I would think over the past at least year, year and half, three years time frame, we`ve seen a lot more women in the store and there`s been a lot more general interest from women overall.” Adam Versluis, Training Manager at Silver Bullet Firearms in Wyoming said.
Every 19 seconds a violent crime is committed against somebody in the United States and three out of four of those are against women, according to the FBI.
“It makes me sleep better at night, it really does, if I’m sleeping at home by myself I most definitely glad that it’s there, that if someone comes into my home , it’s not gonna be me it’s gonna be them.” Molly Kopen of Grand Rapids said while training for her CPL.
There are more than 348,000 active CPL licenses in Michigan, with more than 10,000 in Kent and 6,000 in Kalamazoo County.
“Several years ago we were actually robbed at our home and up until that point I felt like I was fairly naïve thinking that couldn’t happen in our very quaint Mayberry type neighborhood.” Cat Potgeter, now an NRA Certified Instructor said.
Cat and her daughter Whitney make up a mother daughter team that teaches a “Refuse to be a Victim” course at Silver Bullet.
“It was very alarming to me it was a feeling of violation that I hadn’t experienced before.”Cat added, regarding being robbed.
“As we tell our students, we’re really responsible for our own protection and so it is equally important for women to defend themselves, almost more so, because we tend to be the target of crime.” Cat added.
Women have different reasons for getting certified, the staff at Silver Bullet said. Sometimes, it’s a group of ladies who want to cross it off of their bucket list, but more often, it stems from a personal stalking incident or loved ones just wanting their female family member to be able to protect themselves.
“If somebody comes in and they don’t have any shooting experience at all, what we do is we refer them to take one of our first steps classes which is our introduction to handguns and handgun shooting.” Adam added. “We do our CCW class a little bit different; we do not allow anybody who is not experienced to take our class or to utilize our range, if they come in to use the range they have to sign a range waiver saying that they have experience or have to be with somebody that has experience.”
Not every place is pistol friendly in Michigan. Schools, churches, private property and any type of arena that seats more than 2,500, is off-limits, Adam added. However, you can have the gun, if you have a permit, in the parking lot of those places.
Silver Bullet even sells special purses made just for women who have their CPL.
‘I`m not gonna run around Grand Rapids Michigan carrying a gun everywhere, but at night, if I`m out by myself I can have it in my car, it will make me feel safe.” Molly added.
Carrying a gun is not for everyone, but there are steps women can take to protect themselves in the first place. For example, it’s best to wear a purse with a strap that goes across their chest and focus on your surroundings.