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Stephanie Crumley was tired of feeling vulnerable, so she bought a gun and learned how to use it.

“I drive across state lines all the time, and when you have to pull over and sleep in a rest area, it’s not safe,” said Crumley, 30, a U.S. Coast Guard reserve and Plymouth native who treks monthly from her home in Tennessee to her post at the St. Clair Shores Station.

“You turn on the news, and you see all the crime; a lot of women are saying they want to protect themselves, so they’re getting their (concealed pistol licenses),” said Crumley, whose license was issued May 4. She took the CPL course last month with her mother.

They’re among the growing number of women who are arming themselves. According to a 2015 study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, which researches firearm issues, gun ownership by women skyrocketed 270 percent from 2007-2014; male gun ownership increased 156 percent during that period, the study said.

Detroit firearm instructor Rick Ector wants even more women to arm themselves, and he’s offering free training May 21 to any woman who wants it. This is his sixth year offering the free workshop.

“Six years ago, I saw a (media) story about a woman whose body was discarded, and I thought ‘someone should do something.’ Then I thought, ‘why don’t I do it?’” said Ector, who said he became a firearms advocate after being robbed at gunpoint in his driveway.

Top Gun Shooting Sports Gun Range in Taylor is donating its range for the day-long event, and others donated ammunition and guns. Ector and other firearms instructors will volunteer to teach the women gun safety, how to load a pistol, and then oversee range time, in which each woman fires off 21 rounds.

“Every year, I get someone who’ll say ‘why is this only for women? You’re discriminating against men,’” he said. “Well ... I just feel strongly that there are some crazy people out there, and women should be able to protect themselves.”

The first year Ector offered the training, about 50 women showed up. Last year, there were 400, and Ector expects 600 this year.

“You’re seeing more and more women arming themselves,” said Ector, owner of Rick’s Firearm Academy in Detroit. “If giving women a free lesson by a credentialed professional translates into women just trying it, it’ll be a productive use of my time.”

The increase in female gun ownership has not been lost on firearms manufacturers, who are increasingly producing guns tailored for women. In addition to an influx of pink and purple guns on the market, manufacturers are making smaller pistols designed for women.

Crumley said she expects more women to arm themselves as the stigma wears off.

“I think as more people own guns, more women won’t be afraid to carry,” she said. “Women just want to feel safe, and having a gun makes me feel safe.”

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN

Women at arms

What: Free shooting and firearm safety lesson for women

When: May 21. There will be multiple sessions, starting at 9 am. Applicants may choose a time slot when they sign up.

Where: Top Gun Shooting Sports Gun Range, 22050 Pennsylvania in Taylor, Michigan.

To register:https://www.facebook.com/events/1501101156581002. Registration information will be posted on the Facebook event page after noon Monday, May 15, and will remain open until 600 slots are filled.

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