Almost a year of concealed-carry becoming a law in the state of Illinois. Permits are received via mail, and there is a trend in who is filing those gun permit applications, that is only expected to grow.

The sound of gunshots. Is something Allie Boyles is accustomed to.

“My dad was a police officer,” Boyle, a concealed carry student, stated. “Did it for several years. I have Godfathers that are police officers. We go to shooting, target practice.”

Boyles grew up around firearms and now, she’s making sure she can carry one everyday. “There’s bigger people than I am,” Boyles said. “If somebody’s already weaponized, I wanna be able to protect myself and have an equal on the playing field.” Boyles is getting her concealed carry license and she’s joining a growing field of women with guns. “Gun’s aren’t just a boys toy they’re gonna go out and play with,” National Rifle Association Instructor and US Control Tactics Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor Rustin Ledford said.

Ledford and Concealed Carry Instructor Kelly O’Keefe are teaching classes at Tri-County concealed carry in East Peoria. They say 25% of their concealed carry clients are women. In their age 30 to 50 classes, the male-female split is 50-50%. “Women like that feeling of being in control of their own situation,” Ledford said. “If the situation arises, they are able to defend themselves.”

The instructors are advocating for that certification and gun safety education, saying it can make a difference between life and death. “It’s puts a 115 pound woman and equalizes her with a 250 pound thug,” They’re on the same playing field. She’s able to protect herself, she’s able to protect her family.” They’re trying to break down the barrier of the “boys only” mentality, pushing for the population of females with firearms to grow.

“I think in our classes, they’re so ready,” instructor Kelly O’Keefe says of women signing up for concealed carry. They’re in there, asking questions, they’re awesome.” If those other women are anything like Allie Boyles, they work hard for the right to carry, too. “Practice, practice, pulling it out, drawing, just repeatedly,” says Boyles. “It doesn’t have to be a shooting range; it can be unloaded at home.”

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