Detroit firearm advocate to provide free gun training to women
Warren — Sonya Baker says she recently bought a 9mm handgun because she feels "women are a target."
"Some people think because we're women, we can't defend ourselves," the 40-year-old Warren resident said. "I wanted a gun because sometimes I'm out by myself and I want to feel safe."
Baker is among the millions of Americans who have purchased guns for the first time over the past two years. Sales of firearms and ammunition have been so frenzied since 2020 there's been a protracted ammunition shortage, sending citizens and police officials in Michigan scrambling to find rounds.
Although she completed the required training to obtain her concealed carry permit, which she got about five months ago, Baker said she plans to attend a free firearm training program for women Saturday.
For the 10th year, Rick Ector, owner of Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit, and other firearm instructors are donating time and equipment to train women on how to safely handle firearms.
"I will never turn down an opportunity to learn more," Baker said.
During the program's first year, 50 women were trained. Last year, more than 1,900 women participated, and Ector hopes to double that this year.
"We're hoping to train 4,000 women this year," Ector said. "We're going to have the training offered at two locations instead of one.
"There's definitely a desire for this kind of training; we're getting people from all over the country signing up, and a lot of them are first-time gun owners."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which tracks firearm sales, says first-time gun buyers and African Americans are among the fastest-growing demographics of firearm owners.
Firearm sales continue to shatter records after millions of people bought guns in 2020 amid concerns about protests and the pandemic. Last year, 39.7 million background checks were conducted by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a 40% increase over the previous year.
As of July 31, there were 25 million background checks conducted, compared to 16 million in all of 2011, and 8.9 million in 2001.
This year, the record for monthly FBI background firearm checks was broken each month until a dip in June and July. The 3.2 million background checks in June and 2.9 million checks in July represent the highest historic totals for those months other than last year.
Ector, who became a firearm advocate after being robbed at gunpoint in his Detroit driveway, said he was inspired to provide free training for women after watching a television news report 10 years ago.
"There was a woman's body laying in the street; she'd been raped and killed," he said. "That haunted me, and I finally reached the conclusion that I can try to do something about it."
The training Ector offers would cost more than $100 if a participant rented a gun, ammunition, targets and protective ear and eye equipment.
"We provide all that for free," he said.
The training will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Taylor gun ranges Recoil Firearms on Ecorse Road and Top Gun Shooting Sports on Pennsylvania Road.
To sign up, visit Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit's Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/michiganccw.