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Shooting range sees marked interest from women

Thursday - 8/9/2012, 4:55am  ET

Owner of Gilbert Indoor Range, Dick Gilbert, shows the class about gun safety. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
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Andrew Mollenbeck,

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Guns aren't just a guy thing anymore, and while debate over their role in society has intensified this summer, the surge in gun interest comes from women.

"We have a lot of women. They bring their kids in," says Bryon Gossard, a manager at Gilbert Indoor Range.

The owner estimates women make up about 40 percent of new customers.

"Lately most of our business has been people who have never touched a gun before," Gossard says.

The trend at this range is consistent with what's taking place across the country.

The National Rifle Association certified 5,000 additional instructors in just the past 15 months, USA TODAY reports.

Two mass shootings this summer are putting gun rights back in the national discourse. But renewed interest in gun ownership already had been on the upswing, and people cite different reasons for attending gun-safety classes.

"[Guns] are scary when you don't know anything about them. They freak me out," says a young woman who was taking the safety course.

"But I know you can do it and be safe," said the woman who asked that her name be withheld because of the nature of her job.

At this location, crime has been a factor in prompting neighbors to consider guns for the first time.

"We have a lot of people that show up when there's burglaries in their neighborhoods," Gossard says.

In one case, a burglary at gunpoint in Bethesda created an immediate interest in guns.

"Their entire community the whole block wanted to come out here and have us go to their neighborhood and teach them to protect themselves," he says.

Nationally, Illinois is the only state not to allow people to carry concealed firearms. The District does not issue concealed carry permits.

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