Local

Blush & Bullets Gun Club

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Statistics show the number of female gun owners is on the rise. According to a recent Gallup poll, 23 percent of women reported they own a gun. That's up from 13 percent from 2005. Now, some of them are joining gun clubs for women only.

These days more women are showing up at Valley shooting ranges, and are now joining a new group called "Blush & Bullets."

Blush & Bullets founder Corina Lopez said, "The whole purpose of the club is to empower women, to give them a little bit of confidence."

Their motto? "If we can bear children, we can bear arms."

Lopez tells me she first started the club in July 2011 to educate her friends and family on how to handle a firearm for self-protection. But the lock-and-load ladies weren't exactly inconspicuous at the range, and interest continued to grow.

Lopez said, "After 6 or 7 women told five of their friends and five of their friends told five of their friends we wound up by December of that year with 75 women in the club."

Since then, membership has exploded to more than 150 women, making it one of the most popular female gun clubs in the Central Valley.

"We started with our littlest one at 7-years-old," said Lopez. "And the first time she came out she shot my 38 special. I had to stand behind her because she kinda leaned back, but she said can I shoot it again? I said, you got four bullets left, go ahead."

Blush & Bullets meets several times a month at various gun ranges throughout the Central Valley. The club offers hands on training as well as target shooting. It provides the firearms, ammunition and instruction for a small fee. And the ladies can test up to 30 different weapons to determine which gun is the most comfortable for them.

First-timer Jessie Devon says she signed up for the course after two break-ins in her Fresno neighborhood. And she was growing increasingly concerned about her personal safety.

"It's been amazing," said Devon. "At first I was kind of nervous and anxious, but as soon as I fired that first round, and I'll admit the first one was out in the middle of nowhere, but after that I was hitting the same target, I shot the balloon the first shot and I'm really surprising myself. It's really empowering."

Veteran Carla Flores has an equally compelling story. She tells me she joined the group after a man with a violent past was arrested for stalking her.

Flores said, "I was notified he had assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, two domestic violence restraining orders against him and I had no clue what was going to happen."

Then she got a call: he was set to be released from jail. She said, "I felt powerless and hopeless and I didn't want to feel that again."

Now the sharp shooter has her California concealed weapons license, and is a certified National Rifle Association Instructor. She hopes to give back to the women's organization that prepared her to protect, and pull the trigger, by helping other Valley women defend themselves against a potential attacker.

ABC30 asked, "Are you a different person having gone through this?"

"Totally," replied Flores. "I feel much more stronger, I feel like whatever situation comes up I can handle it. I'm not afraid in my home."

A club providing women with a unique support system - while teaching them to use a powerful tool.

Because of the volume of women interested in Blush & Bullets, both Sacramento and Bakersfield are looking to start chapters.

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