ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When the economy plummets, crime spikes. That spike is driving more women to the shooting range to learn how to defend themselves using handguns. They don't want to become victims. In many situations, the only person who can protect you, is you.
Girls and Guns may not be a likely pair.
"I've never even touched a gun," said one class participant.
"I had never shot a gun," said another.
But this group of women is smart. They see crime happening in their community everyday. And although they can't protect everyone, they can protect themselves.
"I wanted to face my fears of the guns themselves, and I'm glad I did," said Johnete Weiss, a victim of an armed robbery.
"When I was 17 I was held up when I was working at a KFC in Florida," she said.
26 years later, it remains a clear memory.
"He actually put the gun right here in my stomach, and pushed, and I still feel that to this day and have nightmares," said Weiss.
So when she heard about the ladies handgun class, she decided to confront her fear of guns for the first time, see what it's like with her finger on the trigger.
"It's given me more confidence and empowerment." A handful of power, she plans to use if necessary. "I think I might want to buy a gun now," she said.
No one else shared a story like Johnete's. But everyone agreed you never know when danger is lurking.
"If somebody makes a violent entry into your home, you can use deadly force with a firearm," said Capt. James Spooner with the Decatur County Sheriff's Office.
Revolvers, even machine guns, these women tried it all. Then it was my turn. And not to brag, but apparently I've got skills.
"I did very good for a first timer," laughs class participant Augusta Connolly.
"To have that much power, and to actually shoot it was pretty cool," said Kristie Gilley.
"It's a personal choice that everyone has to make, but if they do decide to own a gun and carry one for self defense, then you need training," said Capt. Spooner.
So that when, God forbid, the time comes to take the shot. You're ready to fight back.
Thanks to Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, the ladies-only handgun class is free to the public. The next class is November 14th, from 8:30 to 3. They won't offer another class until after the first of next year.