ENGLEWOOD — Christina Landino’s home was once invaded while she slept — now she carries a gun. Landino runs the Grove City Hair Shop for Men in Englewood. She said Englewood firearms safety trainer Steve Gardiner helped her learn how to use the gun for protection.
“I didn’t realize how easy it is for someone to come into your business when you’re unprepared,” Landino said.
More women are educating themselves about guns and taking control of their protection by learning to use them, local firearms trainers say.
Of the 1,012,283 concealed weapons permits issued in Florida in 2012, 204,770 were issued to women, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing.
Gardiner, with American Firearms Training in Englewood, said he’s seeing more married couples signing up for courses.
“It used to be just the husbands who came and took the course, now more of them bring their wives,” Gardiner said.
Half of class signups are women for Mario Anglero’s courses at Firearms Pinnacle Training in Port Charlotte.
“Sometimes it’s all women, a mix of others, but mostly split,” Anglero said. “I saw a higher-than-usual amount of women in December. About 25 percent are here just for licenses and 75 percent are just looking to get a permit.”
Landino, a Rotonda resident, said, “Before, I felt OK about guns. I needed to know more before I got involved.”
Port Charlotte resident Carol Rudd, an inaugural member of the Maple Leaf Gun Club and gun owner for more than 40 years, said she’s not surprised at the increased activity.
“Women are coming around,” Rudd said. “More are being properly trained so that they know what they’re doing. I know several women friends who own guns and I like to use guns for protection and sport.”
Rudd said she is wary of the current political atmosphere involving guns. “Criminals are the ones committing the offenses while the rest of us suffer from it,” Rudd said. “I think they should have more background checks. I get so upset about it because they try to take away rights of gun owners.”
Rudd said she believes people’s views on guns have changed for the worse over time.
“More people today are down on guns,” she said. “I think people would be more relaxed and less afraid if they shot a gun themselves. There are a lot of careless people around now. The biggest thing is respect for the gun since it is good for protection.”
When it comes to guns, there are two very distinct groups of women, according to Englewood psychologist Dr. Lynn Bernstein.
“The first are wives whose husbands are in the military,” she said. “They take the safety courses and they participate together. Women who grew up with guns on the farm also fall into this category. The rest of women are much slower to participate. They tend to be afraid of guns.”
Bernstein said tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., provide validation for many who were on the fence about getting a gun.
“The NRA jumped in membership considerably after the shootings,” Bernstein said. “I think those who take (gun safety) courses feel empowered. Women are definitely more cautious.”
Bernstein said she did not see a significant increase in patients since last year.
“The largest number who pose a threat to women (from violence) tend to be from their partners rather than strangers,” she said.