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Retired preschool teacher Maggie Hall said now that she uses a walker to get around and feels she may be an easy target, she wants a gun.

“I’ve never been one of those people who thought I would consider owning a gun, but now that I have a walker, I’m an easy target (for criminals),” said Hall on Sunday outside the Top Gun shooting range in Taylor.

Hall was one of more than 350 women who showed up for free gun classes Sunday. They each were able to fire 21 rounds of ammunition with an instructor at their side. The class normally would run about $40-$80 with a private instructor included.

“It was liberating. I got past my fears,” said Hall, 48, who later displayed her “silhouette, the paper target, proof of her good aim. “I’m still a little shaky.”

Hall said she hasn’t made her final decision yet but added “I really don’t want to use it but if I have to I will.”

It is the fifth year the class has been offered by the Legally Armed in Detroit group and firearms instructor Rick Ector, the owner of Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit. Ector said he started the annual program after seeing a news report about a murdered woman whose body was dumped in a Detroit street.

“I thought somebody should do something about that. Somebody has got to be out here emboldening women on how to protect themselves,” said Ector on Sunday.

The numbers of female gun owners has continued to climb in Metro Detroit and Michigan over the past decade. The number of new CPL licenses issued each year to women between 2010 and 2014 rose 122 percent in Macomb County, 90 percent in Wayne County and 74 percent in Oakland County, according to Michigan State Police.

“The No. 1 reason why women that I have trained or spoken to about firearms get a CPL is security concerns,” said Ector. “They watch the nightly newscasts and see that women are especially targeted for victimization by predators. Many of them are parents and feel obligated to provide protection for their families.”

Tanisha Moner, a Clinton Township resident and firearms instructor, said she sought her CPL after she became a crime victim twice.

“A gun can help level the playing field,” said Moner as she waited to train other women how to use a weapon.

Kristina Nixon, a St. Clair Shores resident and real estate agent, attended the class to learn how to fire a handgun and learn about gun safety. Nixon said she plans to get a gun permit for personal safety reasons.

“I show houses and I’m by myself,” said Nixon. “We need to be armed.”

Nixon said she has a young son and wants to be able to protect him. She also cited the rise in terrorism.

“Because of terrorism today, I’d rather by armed,” said Nixon. “If someone pointed a gun at my 7-year-old (in a terrorist attack), I want the chance to save my kid.”

Nixon displayed a paper target, a silhouette, which she said was considered “perfect” by the instructor at the gun range Sunday.

Angela Hodgson said she also took the class for personal safety reasons.

“The way the world is today ... it’s crazy,” said 35-year-old Hodgson, also of St. Clair Shores.

Hodgson said she is not yet sure she will get a gun permit.

“I’ve never shot before. I’m still kind of scared,” she said. “You can kill someone. I think I need more training.”

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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