Women gun owners asked: "Could you shoot?"

WYOMING, Mich. (WZZM) - The face of gun ownership is changing and women are helping drive gun sales. Some self-defense classes are being designed with women in mind and women are being faced with the question - in the heat of the moment, could they shoot?

Imagine the scenario - It's 11:00pm on a Friday. You've just returned home and have barely made it up the stairs when an intruder breaks through your door. Your gun is tucked away in your purse...or you boots...or your backpack...or somewhere in your home.

This is the drill that women taking Cat Porteger's class are going through. She has taught nearly 700 women over the last 18 months.

In real life, the target could be quick, moving, and unpredictable. Cat's training emphasizes being mentally prepared.

"You need to understand what's going to happen in a real-life situation," explains Cat. "When your adrenaline gets going, you are going to be stressed...your fine-motor skills are going to go completely out the window."

Muscle memory is critical in the training. You may take the training now, but not have to need it for three years. Or five. Or ten. 1/3 of your skill can be lost in 30 days without practice.

Psychologist Dr. Nancy Jonkersays that it takes more than a gun when you are facing an intruder. She knows from first-hand experience in graduation school when an intruder opened a door to her bedroom. She froze, but her roommate sat "bold upright" and was ready to take action. She now teaches women, many of whom were assault victims, to empower themselves.

"Some women are much more willing to use their power," says Dr. Jonker. "But for the women who retreat inside to get their sense of safety, it's going to take a lot of training to be able to come out in any kind of aggressive way...especially if you're going to try to use a gun."

Dr. Jonker says facing fear starts in your face, especially your eyes. Harden your eyes and make a strong stance. It shifts hormones and gives you more confidence to face your attacker. Give your attacker a sense of "you are not going to mess with me!"

And you may not need a gun.

"Women can defend themselves without a gun, but it has to be throughout their whole body," says Dr. Jonker.

But many women are arming themselves. Since 2005, female gun ownership increased from 13 to 23%.

But Dr. Jonker says she could not shoot.

"Am I willing to kill someone? Am I willing to use it? I would much more likely carry pepper spray," says Dr. Jonker.

Cat says some of the women attending these self-defense classes, may eventually realize the same.

"I think that's an individual case," says Cat. "I think it's possible you could have someone that could not."

But right now, they're determined to fight for their lives, however they can.


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