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8News Special Report: Moms Packing Heat

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RICHMOND - How far would you go to protect your children? More women are learning to shoot and they're carrying guns with them out in public.

Sara Saunders is a new mom. Her daughter lily is just eight months old and while she carries her baby on one hip, it's what's on the other that might surprise you.

Saunders got her concealed carry permit back in march and she's taken numerous training classes.

"It's not a sense of power," she says. "It's a sense of we're able to protect our children. It's something I never plan on using or hope that I never have to use but with my daughter there. Her safety comes first."

It's a trend that continues to grow. Moms and women in general taking their safety into their own hands by arming themselves.

"A lot of women in the past and maybe some still in the present depend on the man of the house to have their gun," says Colleen Thomas. "What if they're at work when something happens? They need to be taught how to handle a weapon correctly."

Colleen Thomas has had her concealed carry for four years. 8news met her at Colonial Shooting Academy where she practices on a weekly basis, something she's says you have to do if you are going to be a gun owner.

"It's good to keep challenging yourself in case you do need to use your weapon at some point."

At Colonial Shooting Academy, they're seeing more and more women taking training classes and hitting the range to practice those skills they've learned in the classroom.

"They want to learn to shoot," says Colonial Shooting Academy's Ed Coleman. "They want to have the feeling that they can defend themselves if necessary."

Moms are busy, often on the go, running from place to place whether it be the grocery store, school or a stop at the playground. But what happens if you forget you have it or take you gun somewhere you can't have it?

"As a gun owner it is my responsibility to keep up with current gun laws," Saunders says. "Making sure I'm carrying where I'm supposed to."

Saunders says she makes sure to plan her day out and think about the places she's going ahead of time.

"Anytime I go into a grocery store or any property, I'm always looking to make sure there's no gun signs up you know where they say no gun owners, no weapons. I'm always aware of that."

Even if you have a permit to carry it, if you do bring a gun into a place where they're prohibited, you can be charged.

Legal Analyst Cary Bowen says it's plain and simple. You have to know the law when you carry a gun.

"'I forgot it was in there' is not an excuse. And it's being used so often it's falling on deaf ears. They haven't planned their days as well as they should have and they forget they have to go into court and they'll just take a chance or go pick up their child and they forget they can't even have it."

And that's why Saunders makes sure she is taking every step necessary to be legal and she says she'll keep her gun by her side to protect herself and her family.

"I hope to never be a statistic," she says. "A gun is a weapon. It's not a toy, but the more you know about it the safer you can be when you use it."

Colonial Shooting Academy even offers women-only training classes, and Monday night at the range is ladies night.


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