Nightly News   |  February 16, 2013

Gun ownership on the rise among women

A Gallup poll reported that in 2005, 13 percent of all women owned a gun. That number jumped to 23 percent in 2011. Many women say they are buying guns to protect themselves. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> just 90 minutes after the president's antigun violence speech in chicago there were four shootings on the streets of that city. as it struggles with an epidemic of gun violence , which brings us to our week-long special series "flashpoint guns in america." tonight we look at a growing trend in this country as more and more women turn to guns to protect themselves. nbc's stephanie gosk went to texas and found one woman who believes that owning a gun saved her life.

>> reporter: everywhere erin goes now she says her gun is on her after that terrifying night three weeks ago. i looked up and he was like this pointing a gun straight at me and i'm just looking at the end of the gun.

>> reporter: three men, one of them armed, broke into erin 's house an hour outside of houston. she was alone with her 6-year-old son. out numbered and scared, the young mother had one thought. my gun, my gun, my gun. that was it. that was the one thing that was going to save me.

>> reporter: erin tricked the intruders into her bedroom where she managed to grab her gun.

>> reporter: i jushe shot one in the stomach and another wrestled her gun away kneeing her in the eye but all three fled. erin believes having a gun saved her life. erin did eventually call 911 but she wasn't able to until after the intruders had left. a lot of women who believe they need guns for self-defense are concerned that help won't get there in time. line up your sights. patsy quigley has been training women and writing books about self-defense since the '90s after close friend was raped. it was not easy for me to get a publisher for my book because there were so many women who were against guns.

>> reporter: she noticed big changes in women 's attitudes towards guns. today the number of women buying them is on the rise. a gallup poll reported that in 200513% of all women owned a gun. that number jumped to 23% in 2011 . many like stacy adams say they are buying guns to protect themselves. there aren't many men i know who aren't bigger and stronger than i am. so even in the best scenario i'm already at a loss.

>> reporter: the number could spike even higher this year triggered by shootings in aurora, colorado and newtown, connecticut. the increase with women has really been apparent over the last i'd say four to eight weeks.

>> reporter: it's a trend that worries those who believe more guns could put people in danger especially women . the evidence is very strong that a gun in the home increases the risk for of course gun accident. the evidence is overwhelming that a gun in the home increases the risk for suicide and the evidence is very strong a gun in the home increases the risks.

>> reporter: even advocates admit there are times guns are good protection. nobody needs to explain that to erin . it is extremely terrifying to have somebody come in your window.

>> reporter: in that moment she says a gun was exactly what she needed. stephanie gosk, nbc news, magnolia, texas>>> when we