Gigionthat.com has learned the number of black women applying for concealed carry permits in Chicago is on the rise.
In 2014, Illinois made it legal for its residents to carry concealed firearms. That same year, 800 black women applied for a license to do so. So far, in 2017, 1,368 black women have applied for concealed carry licenses, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Tribune spoke to a number of women who have the license, and all said that safety concerns prompted them to buy a gun.
About 800 black women got a license in 2014, according to Illinois State Police. So far in 2017, nearly 1,400 black women have received a concealed carry permit — already more than all of 2016. In all, more than 4,000 black women have received a concealed carry license in Cook County.
To be sure, black women still make up a relatively small percentage of those applying for permits, trailing white women, white men and black men in each of the past three years. And these figures do not include the number of women who have obtained guns and do not have a permit.
African-American women interviewed for this article said they were spurred by a growing concern for their safety, particularly in neighborhoods where crime has surged in recent years.
We reported on JMD Defense & Investigations, a business founded by a woman by the name of Javondlynn Dunagan, not long ago. Dunagan runs her business on Chicago’s South Side, and trains women how to use firearms.
She’s created a gun club called Ladies of Steel Gun Club, which brings women together to practice at a range with each other. Members pay $60 per year and meet up once a month to practice shooting.
“Having a gun club for women is only natural,” Dunagan told the Tribune.
“We do everything else together, but go shooting,” she said. And she’s decided to change that.
One of Dunagan’s friends and students, Vernetta Robinzine, joined Dunagan’s class after her home was broken into.
“I felt totally violated,” Robinzine said. She installed locks all over her house, but didn’t like the way they made her feel. She was tired of being scared.
“I just didn’t want to feel like a victim or vulnerable,” Robinzine said.
Now that she has a gun, a concealed carry license and firearms training, Robinzine is no longer afraid. She carries her gun with her everywhere and said, “It’s like a part of me now.”
An assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois, Alexandra Filiandra believes that Robinzine’s story is a common one, noting that the city has struggled with violence recently. However, she finds it interesting to see black women turning to guns rather than away from them.
“Given the level of violence and easy availability of guns in minority communities, most people there tend to think guns are the problem, not a solution,” said Filindra.
According to advocacy group Hey Jackass, 457 people have been shot and killed in Chicago so far this year. 2,207 people have been shot, but survived.
The Tribune reports that in Robinzine’s neighborhood, the homicide rate was 92.6 per 100,000 people in 2016.
“A lot of black women are now going to the range, to the store buying a gun and then going to practice,” Smith said. “It’s a definite trend that we’re seeing at our organization and also in general public.”