SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - More women are taking aim as gun packing moms protecting their families are on the rise in the Central Valley.
More than 43 percent of Americans have guns in their homes. The latest Gallup Poll shows it's the highest number since the early 1990s.
The number of Californians trying to carry concealed weapons is growing dramatically, and so is the number of women.
Concealed weapons permits -- also known as a CCW -- are on the rise in Northern California.
"I maybe talk but I'm skinny and I'm light, and I need some protection here," said Kim Denson.
"You can't go to the movies now without looking over your shoulder," said Martin Febanske.
Ordained by law enforcement to legally use deadly force, they're average, ordinary men and women given permission to protect themselves, or their families with a hidden handgun.
"Walking to the park, or something, I feel much safer," said Christa Barrera.
Tucked underneath their clothing at the grocery store, or maybe even the park, they're packing heat.
"I'm not the only one thinking about it," said Febanske.
Following the economic crisis of 2008, there has been a steady rise in CCWs.
In El Dorado County, the sheriff's department issued 415 CCWs. That number almost doubled this year with 922 CCWs issued.
In Placer County, CCW permits tripled since 2009 with 663 issued this year.
In Sacramento County, the number has gone through the roof with 727 permits issued this year, compared to the 95 issued in 2009.
"It's kind of a perfect storm of circumstances that came together," said Sacramento sheriff Sgt. Jason Ramos.
He says Sheriff Scott Jones was elected in 2010, when Sacramento County was struggling financially and laying off deputies. The cuts were so deep the sheriff told residents he could no longer guarantee their safety and promised to open the CCW permit flood gates.
"We wish that we could keep up with the demand," said Ramos. "It's just not practical."
Right now, there are close to 4,000 applicants on the waiting list.
"I watch the news. Have you watched the 6 o'clock news?" said Denson.
Surprisingly, nearly 30 percent of applicants for CCW permits are women. Many are mothers with small children.
"I want to be able to protect my kids, my daughters," said Barrera.
More mothers are packing to protect too. Barrera applied for a permit after feeling vulnerable.
"Here in Sacramento, a mother walking down the street, there was a mother and her two children, and her daughter was abducted right there right in the middle of daylight," said Barrera.
Barrera is referring to the May arrest of Cedric Holland, accused of snatching a 7-year-old girl off the street in broad daylight. He allegedly did it in front of the child's mom, and then stuffing her in his trunk.
Police say the little girl escaped from Holland, who is a registered sex offender.
"God forbid if anything would ever happen, but at least I'll be able to protect my children," said Barrera.
As with most counties, getting a CCW permit in Sacramento County is not easy. The process could take more than a year.
"I'll wait forever if I had to," said Denson. "As long as I can protect my family, I'll wait as long as I have to."
Denson has a small child at home. She wants her little girl to know mommy has everything under control.
"I have a Springfield XD 9mm," said Denson. "It does do the job."
She is going through gun training with her family.
"His gun is actually a lot more accurate than mine, but I can still hit something," said Denson.
This growing breed of gun-toting moms is hoping not to be on the wrong side of a crime.
"I want to be prepared," said Barrera. "I don't want to be that next victim."
Opponents argue that CCWs create a culture of violence. A 2009 American Journal of Public Health study found that someone carrying a gun for self-defense was four and a half times more likely to be shot during an assault than a victim without a gun.
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