One month into the sign-up process for Illinois' concealed carry permits, 36,630 people have turned in applications. About one out of every 10 applicants is a woman.
Demand has been so high, Great River Firearms Training in Quincy offered a women's-only session.
In her downtown Quincy store, Premier Diva, owner Gerilynn Morrison sells clothing and other accessories for women. Some of her newest items are handbags designed specifically for women who plan on carrying a concealed gun.
"No one will ever know it's in the back of your purse," Morrison said. "It's very easy to slide out and get your hand on."
Morrison doesn't just sell handbags; she was the first woman in Adams County to apply for a concealed carry permit.
"I'm a business owner in downtown Quincy and feel like it's important to be able to protect myself against harm that may be coming through the front door unexpectedly," Morrison said.
Morrison took her concealed carry training class last fall, one that was dominated by men who've been around guns their entire lives.
So she suggested to instructor Matt Courtney that there should be a class for women only. Once word got out, it didn't take long for about two dozen women to sign up.
"I just think if it's an all-ladies class, they're going to feel a little more comfortable, get a little more one-on-one time and be able to ask questions freely," Morrison said.
"Most of them would not have taken the course had they not found out about the opportunity we're giving them," Matt Courtney with Great River Firearms Training said. "They've all come in here with little or no experience for the most part."
The class gives women detailed information on how a gun works, the laws for handling concealed firearms and most importantly, how to properly aim and fire a gun.
Almost 4,000 women in Illinois have applied for concealed carry permits. So why are they eager to carry a gun?
"My number one reason is protection," Katie Case said. "I have two young children. Just being with them in the house or out and about, I want to be able to take care of them and myself if my husband is not around."
"Protection," Beth Entrup said. "Taking this class, I'm hoping to learn more about all the guns and situations, how to handle myself and how to handle my gun."
While these women hope to never have to pull a gun on someone threatening them or their family, they now have the training to make the right decisions and the ability to properly handle a gun. And when it comes to carrying that gun, they have options there, too.
But even Morrison will tell you, a concealed carry permit is not just for show.
"I think you should take what you learn and practice it, practice it, and practice it," Morrison said. "If they offer continued education, take it. You need to have hands-on and be familiar so that you're ready when that time comes. Knowledge is power".
Great River Firearms Training will hold another women's-only course beginning March 18.