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A professor who teaches a concealed-carry class at Mountain Empire Community College in Stone Gap, Virginia, says half of his students are now women, a big difference from what he saw in previous years.

The Bristol Herald Courier interviewed Robert C. England, who teaches criminal justice at the community college and has also taught the concealed carry class for several years.

“I think that women are mostly choosing to carry for personal protection, but I do not believe that there is perception out there that people are going to lose the right to carry, so we see a lot of husbands and wives come in to take the course together,” England told the Courier. “I’ve hard them say, ‘We’re going to get this while we can.'”

England’s class includes about eight hours of out-of-class work along with classroom time, which includes covering the Virginia carry laws. England told the Courier that many people, both male and female, who take his class have never handled or fired a gun before, along with those who have been around firearms all their lives.

England makes use of the college’s firearms simulator in his class if he has a number of very inexperienced students, to ease them into handling and shooting a firearm.

For a lot of the women in England’s classes, learning to use a gun is mostly about self defense and he told the Courier that a lot of his students have guns in the home that they simply want to know how to use if they ever have to.

“Things aren’t like they used to be, you can’t leave your doors open anymore and even if you lock your doors it’s still dangerous,” said Gail Taylor, 65, in the story. “I wanted a gun to protect myself and I wanted to learn how to use it. That way, if I need to use it I’ll use it in the manner it was meant to be used. I have a healthy respect of guns and I want to be safe and I want those around me to be safe because I know how to use it.”

Read the rest of the Courier‘s story here.

Women have been in the gun ownership spotlight lately.

Yesterday we told you about a feature from the Shreveport Times that revealed record numbers of women in Louisiana are buying guns and taking self-defense and gun safety courses taught by organizations like The Well Armed Woman.

Earlier in the week, reports from Europe showed that tens of thousands of citizens, most of them women, in Austria are buying guns to protect themselves as hordes of refugees enter their borders.