More women applying for handgun permits in Maryland

It is easier for a business owner who conducts primarily cash transactions in Maryland to obtain a permit to wear and carry a gun, than a woman who fears she may be attacked by an ex-lover. 

"I am afraid for my life and safety due to being stalked, assaulted, threatened, and harassed," reads an excerpt from a denied application to obtain a concealed carry permit in Maryland. "I have filed charged against [redacted] for assault and threats. He is continuing to threat [sic] me and he is continuing to harm me by trying to kick in my door to enter my apartment." 

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"He has verbally threaten [sic] me and he has verbally told others he is going to kill me. He has violated the PEACE ORDER and is still stalking and threatening me, the hand-written "reason for a handgun permit" continues. "I am also afraid for my 9 [year] old daughter's safety. I am requesting approval for a permit in order to protect myself and daughter because [name redacted] is out to assault and kill me.

The applicant noted that she included court documents as evidence of the subject's "rage." 

"[Name redacted]'s rage and anger is very unpredictable due to he has tried to bust through my door with a crutch and he has tried to enter through my balcony door to kill me. He has also threatened to [word missing] my daughter [name redacted] and my husband [name redacted]. It is urgent that I am able to … "

The reason likely concluded on a separate page of the application. 

The relationship between the woman and the man she is described in her application is unclear. But for former Baltimore police officer Donna Worthy it's not uncommon and in her eyes unfortunate. 

"As far as women specifically, that is one of the most prevalent reasons for a woman to get it," Worthy said. "It is growing however for business owners as women and men in general. Business owners are the number one way that people are obtaining handgun permits in Maryland. … I wish I could say [being] business owners were the [main reason] women were getting them for, but unfortunately it is the threat.

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"They absolutely know they're more of a target than say a big, stocky man might be," Worthy continued. "We've had a lot of women that are successful in getting the carry permit when they've had multiple threats from an ex or something like that and they have an absolute need." 

Worthy is a retired Baltimore City police officer.  She suffered a career-ending injury in 2005 while monitoring a prison at a Baltimore hospital. She said the prison "went crazy" from drugs and wound up throwing an "entire hospital bed" at her, "ripping" her shoulder apart. 

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A year later, Worthy opened Worth-A-Shot Firearms in Millersville, Maryland. She is a National Rifle Association-certified instruction and is licensed to conceal and carry firearms with both permits from Utah and Maryland. As a female business owner, Worthy checks all of the boxes. 

Her decision to open the then-training-only-facilities was motivated by a lack of female firearms instructors. She started out doing house calls teaching gun safety. 

"Women really feel comfortable with a woman instructor," Worthy said. "Women want to feel at ease when they come in a gun store. They don't want the drill sergeant type of atmosphere."  

Worthy said more women recently have begun signing up for the Handgun Qualification License in Maryland, not to be confused with a conceal and carry permit. To own a handgun in Maryland, applicants must complete a four-hour training class that includes the legal aspects of Maryland's strict gun laws that took effect Oct. 1, 2013. The course also goes over safe handling, basic shooting, maintenance and safety in the home. 

"They're a little scared of guns when the first come in; not all women. … Frankly, some women just need to build up their strength and stamina," Worthy said. "We're there for them from start to finish. By the time they're are finished with the training the feel more confident. It's empower for women." 

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