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Gun ownership by women has skyrocketed in recent years, and a local firearms instructor wants to see more ladies packing heat.

Rick Ector, owner of Legally Armed in Detroit, has provided free training for hundreds of Metro Detroit women over the past six years. He expects a record number of people to sign up for this year’s training on May 20.

“Any time anyone is victimized, especially the most vulnerable people — senior citizens and women — the natural response from the victims is, they need to take a more active role to protect themselves,” Ector said. “A firearm is the way to do that, if there’s appropriate training.”

Ector provides the free class Top Gun Shooting Sports in Taylor. He said there’s been a steady increase of participants over the years, with a record 600 women signing up last year.

This year, Ector said he expects class participation to increase to about 800, when he opens registration Sunday on his Facebook page a week before the event.

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.

In Michigan, the number of women who received or renewed concealed pistol licenses rose 134 percent from 10,862 in 2010 to 25,418 in 2015, according to a 2015 report.

Detroit police Chief James Craig said he’s also seeing more women learning how to shoot.

“I’ve been the guest speaker at CPL classes, and I’m routinely seeing 60-70 people in the class — all women,” Craig said. “A lot of law-abiding citizens just want to be safe, and as long as they get the proper training and are responsible gun owners, I welcome that.”

Julia Beaubien of Redford went through Ector’s training last year, and said it’s helped her feel “more aware.”

“It’s made me more conscious of where I am, what’s surrounding me, things like that,” said Beaubien, 32. “You’re thinking four or five steps ahead, because you don’t want to have to call your attorney and say ‘I had to use my gun.’ I don’t plan on having to use it, but if I do I know I’ll be ready.”

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN

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