BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every mother wants to protect her family. More and more women are doing that by learning how to use a gun. Fear pushed Michelle to the shooting range 20 years ago.

“When it was laid on the table I didn’t like it,” said Michelle. “Because I had a child in the house at that time.”

Michelle went from being a nervous mother to a gun instructor at Mohawk Rifle and Pistol on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda. Men come in to shoot, but recently Michelle says things have changed. A lot more women are getting educated about firearms.

“I used to come and there would be one or two women now I come shooting and there are maybe five women on the line and I back up and smile because I think it’s fabulous,” said Michelle. “They just want to learn how to do it, like I did. I was afraid of them so I figured out how to use them.

Two years ago a national Gallop poll found the number of women who own guns nearly doubled. News 4 wanted to see if that trend continued, so we asked area county clerks for the numbers.

In 2013 Erie County issued 385 pistol permits to women. In 2014 the clerk’s office says that number skyrocketed. The clerk said 765 women got their pistol permits, 380 more than the year before. This year the county is on pace to issue over 650 pistol permits to women. Other local counties have also issued more pistol permits to women in the last few years.

“More women are becoming more interested in firearms, primarily handguns,” said Dennis Deasy, owner of the Niagara Gun Range. “I’ve had mothers get involved I’ve had wives get involved in it.”

Deasy said he is also seeing more women walk through his doors. The main reason women get a gun or learn how to shoot one, Deasy says, is for personal protection.

“The world is kind of messed up out there in case anyone hasn’t noticed,” said Deasy. “There is some levity to that statement but there is some seriousness to it also. Not that if push came to shove they would use it or be able to use it,  but just that comfort level.”

Deasy says some women also just want to shoot for sport.

“Women enjoy shooting a firearm because they can be on par with any guy out there shooting a gun,” said Deasy.

In New York State you can walk into a gun range and shoot a rifle but you need a permit to touch a handgun.

“A loaded firearm is never going to jump off the table and shoot somebody its the person behind the firearm,” said Deasy.

That was exactly Michelle’s fear before she started shooting. But 20 years later, she is an educated gun owner who wants to teach other women how to safely and legally operate a firearm.

“I feel extremely comfortable with them and I want to teach everyone about them,” said Michelle. “We would show you how to use it so you would feel comfortable and not afraid.

Another reason women are getting their permits is so guns can stay in the family. If their husband passes away, and they are stuck with his guns, if a woman has her permit she can keep them or sell them for possibly more money.