Debbie Torrence is a grandma, seamstress, and a gun owner.
"Once I learned how to shoot my gun, I got over my fear of a gun," she explained.
She's part of a growing number of women who are fired up about owning a gun.
"All types of women. I mean, even your grandmothers," she laughed.
In fact, more than 70,000 women between the ages of 51 and 65 got their concealed weapons permits here in the Sunshine State in May 2012 alone. That's right -- Grandma's packing!
"I was really, really afraid of the gun. I didn't even want to touch it," said Ellen Edmondson, a midwife who decided to buy a gun for protection after her husband passed away.
She and many other women are attending classes like the one hosted by the Wyoming Antelope Club, which teaches everything you need to know to be a responsible gun owner.
"Right now there are over 35,000 carry permits just in Pinellas County," explained one of the trainers.
"We have a right to bear arms in this country and if I don't even know how to shoot a gun, then I'm really not exercising my rights," said Ellen.
Elizabeth Sontag, member of the Wyoming Antelope Club, has been exercising her rights for years and it shows as she fires off a Winchester rifle.
She said, "When you fire a gun, you get that adrenaline rush."
The banker-turned-gold-medal-shooter does this as a sport, but isn't afraid to use her guns for protection.
"I think, if I was put in a position to have to use it, I think I would have confidence enough in myself to know what to do," she said.
Even the men admit that the women are usually better shooters, which has more women arming themselves with both the knowledge and the weapons to protect themselves.
Which brings us back to Debbie Torrence, the seamstress-turned-gun-owner, who has now started her own company called the Concealed Purse Store (www.concealedpursestore.com) in Tampa. She focuses on making purses for women gun owners.
With more women buying guns, she's sure to make big profits.
Although she's not afraid to carry a gun, she said, "I hope I never have to use it."
However, she has peace in knowing that she's finally as comfortable with a gun as she is with her sewing machine.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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