Headline: "Women a 'driving force' in Ohio handgun sales"

The Mansfield News-Journal is reporting that the influx of new concealed handgun licenses comes as the image of the average gun owner -- a middle-aged man -- is changing.

From the story:

At a recent gun show in Mansfield, where venders peddling everything from flak jackets to military meals ready-to-eat gave the event the feel of a survivalists convention, more than a few women milled around among the scores of men buying or looking.

"Since the CCW permits, more women are getting their CCW permits than men," said David Holden, 43, owner of an East Canton gun shop and one of the show's sellers. "Women are the driving force in the gun sales."

It wasn't always so.

The expected rush by women to apply for a permit did not materialize for the first couple of years after the 2004 passage of Ohio's concealed handgun law. State lawmakers who supported concealed carry cast about for reasons why.

Long-time state Rep. Jim Aslanides, Ohio's first concealed handgun permit holder, said women constituents didn't want their ages and names printed in the paper. The Coshocton County-area Republican later helped pass House Bill 9, which in 2007 amended Ohio's Public Records Act to limit media access to licensee information.

"If a person wants to have their privacy, I understand why," said Luverna Rossington, of Bucyrus. "I just accept the fact that I always had a right."

The 73-year-old, who grew up on a farm around guns, got her permit in 2004 and doesn't travel without her firearm. Her husband Ron and two sons also have licenses.

"I renewed it once, and I plan to keep it," Luverna said. "It gives you a little more confidence that you're safe."

Holden told the newspaper that for his family, their way of life now more or less revolves around guns. His 11-year-old daughter Christina has a youth permit and shoots on a rifle team. On weekends, the family heads out to gun shows across the state and Midwest with their business, National Firearms LLC.

"I carry a firearm everywhere I go," Holden's 41-year-old wife, Charlotte, said while showing off some her wares -- a snub-nosed revolver and one of Smith & Wesson's Airweight pistols. "I married into a family where guns were a way of life."

Charlotte, a State-Tested Nursing Assistant, keeps her handgun locked in her glovebox while at work in a nursing home.

Furthermore, firearm manufacturers are reaching out to female gun owners in the midst of the surge in licenses.

In May 2009, the Smith & Wesson Corporation supported Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization through a unique 9 mm handgun.

The company made its first quarterly donation to the breast cancer awareness organization through proceeds collected from the sale of a black-and-pink polymer-frame pistol. Professional shooter Julie Goloski Golob designed the pistol with the company.

The full-size pistol is engraved with the awareness ribbon on the slide and is packaged with two pink grip inserts (small and medium) along with the three standard black grip inserts.

Louis Katona, a New Washington police officer and certified concealed carry instructor, told the News-Journal he isn't surprised by the gun show demographics, saying that women make up 40 to 50 percent of his classes.

"They seldom come alone -- they come with their fathers, husbands or brothers," he is quoted as saying. "It makes (women) feel empowered. They just want to do something to protect their families and themselves."

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