Monday, April 22, 2013

FL:Number of women with concealed-weapon permits jumps

Shirley Hedge spent more than 40 years saving lives as a nurse.

Now retired, "Shotgun Shirley" represents the biggest increase among Florida's more than 1 million people who have concealed-weapon permits: women 66 and older.

Hedge, 66, is one of 34,937 women in her age bracket licensed to carry a gun almost anywhere they want in Florida and 35 other states. Their numbers have jumped 619 percent since 2004 — the earliest year with available data — when there were 4,856 women licensed in the same age group, according to state records.

The number of women in the youngest age bracket, 21 to 35, jumped 463 percent to 40,386 -- four times more than men in the same age group.

After the death of her husband three years ago, Hedge began worrying about her safety.

"I didn't realize how vulnerable I was until I started thinking about it. … I was in denial," said Hedge, who five months ago bought her first guns — a .22-caliber target pistol and .380-caliber semi-automatic for self-defense — and received her permit two weeks ago.

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