SHERMAN, TX - Experts say at least 40 percent of women in the U.S. either own a gun or have access to one, and the number of women buying guns is on the rise. Jalah Gray takes us inside a concealed handgun class and shows us why so many women are packing heat.
Research shows an estimated 15 to 20 million women in the United States own firearms, and though the reasons vary, self defense seems to be number one.
"There's a lot of crazy people out there." Diane McGrath said.
"My husband was pushing me to learn how to use a gun and hopefully defend myself." said Lois Runnels.
Lois Runnels is going through her first Concealed Handgun License class. She recalls a time several years ago when she wishes she had been armed.
A man that lived across the street started shooting at a tow truck driver trying to repossess his car.
The tow truck driver ran into her backyard. She hid him in her house, terrified of what might happen next.
"We called 911 and it took forever for them to get there and I was afraid that he was going to come in and shoot me, my husband was outside, he was on the lawn mower, he couldn't hear it, and then the guy ran around the back yard with the rifle, pointed it at my husband, and I was just paralyzed." Runnels said.
Jason Webb owns Red River Firearms in Sherman. He says although some women are scared to even pick up a gun, the majority who do, end up being better shooters than most men.
"With guys they got that testosterone, I saw Mel Gibson do it in Lethal Weapon." said Webb.
Diane McGrath says her husband, a retired police officer, even admits she's the better shooter.
She got her CHL about a year ago. She says in this day and age, women can't be too careful.
"I just think that it's good for women to learn how to shoot now to protect themselves, you can't always have a police officer right next to you when something goes wrong." McGrath said.
McGrath and her husband drive from Howe once a month to shoot at the Red River Indoor range, because she says just having a CHL is useless if you're not prepared to use your gun.
"I think if I practice more often, if I continue to practice once a month that I keep that ability to know exactly what to do, how to do it, and how to do it quickly if I need to." said McGrath.
Talking with women like McGrath inspired me to give shooting a try, so I decided to take my first CHL class.
The 10 hour course outlined by the Department of Public Safety covers things like safety, cleaning, storage and the right to defend yourself against imminent danger.
Students must pass a 50 question written test and a shooting accuracy test at a gun range.
So I'm here at Red River Fire range and I'm getting ready to take the shooting portion of the CHL, we'll see how I do.
I qualified with a glock 19 semi automatic, shooting 50 rounds at a standard B-27 target at 9 feet, 21 feet, and 45 feet.
I passed both the shooting and writing portions but instructor, Brad Blankenship, says the most important part comes before you ever set foot in the class.
You have to ask yourself, if the time comes, can I pull the trigger?
McGrath says she has no doubt.
"I believe that I should be able to protect myself, I believe in the 2nd amendment rights that we have that right." McGrath said.
For more information on the CHL and Red River Firearms call