Local women take protection into their own hands - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local women take protection into their own hands

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INA -- Beth Mandrell is a grandma to five little ones. She bakes cakes, makes the musical costumes at Rend Lake College, gardens and reads. 

Now, she's adding "licensed shooter" to her list of expertise. 

"This is out of my element, I don't do anything with guns but I thought it would be good to be trained," Mandrell said. 

Saturday, she earned her concealed carry permit. 

For the first time at Rend Lake College, the school hosted a women's only Illinois Concealed Carry course. 

Jeff Bullard, Detective Captain for the Mt. Vernon Police Department, said the course is designed to make women feel less intimidated in a place where they are usually outnumbered by men.

He taught the course and has been firearm training for nearly two decades. From his experience, he said attackers are usually men. 

"They develop a plan, a criminal plan, to whatever it is... steal their purse, rob them of their car, commit a sexual crime, whatever it is... that they're targeting women because they believe them to be softer targets," he said. 

Shary Carpenter said the women's only rule, had a lot to do with her decision to take the class. 

"I didn't think I might be intimidated by the guys in the group."

The other five women in the group said the same.

"That's even more important because as a woman we may be more… maybe more at risk than what a male might be when we're out so I think it's all the more important that we try to educate and protect," Carpenter said. 

The six women spent two days in a classroom learning the legalities behind carrying a firearm. 

Beth and Shary were nervous to hit the range. But now, they're feeling confident. 

"It's kind of nice to have that element of surprise. Are people going to think this… is going to do that."

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