BOWLING GREEN, KY. (WBKO) --- The topic of gun control is a polarizing one, especially with escalating gun violence across the nation.
However, here in Kentucky, the number of people receiving their concealed carry permits is rising, especially in women.
"Concealed carry has been available to Kentucky citizens for almost twenty years now," said Phil Kimbel, a concealed carry instructor.
During that time statistics show over 400,000 people have now gotten their concealed carry permits in Kentucky.
Kelly Austin is one of the more recent Kentuckians to receive a license.
"Living in the times that we're living in, I just, I wanted to get my concealed carry license or permit just to feel a little safer," Austin said.
She often takes girls trips with her daughters, sister, and mother.
"Just being on the road with girls and you never know what could happen on the road or who you might run into," Austin said.
But even at home or running errands, Austin says she just wants to be protected.
"You just want to have control over any violent situation or any trouble you might get into and I just thought 'yeah', this is how I can control what's happening to me or how I can protect myself and my family," Austin said.
There are a variety of reasons why people decide to get concealed carry training.
"Some have been victims, some are afraid that they will be a victim, and some just want better training and knowledge about owning and use of a weapon," Kimbel said.
All of which is provided in the basic training for concealed carry, but obtaining a permit does have it's restrictions.
"So much more than I realized goes into being able to carry a permit," Austin said.
"You must pass a background check by the Kentucky State Police before you can actually get a license and there are things that will cause your license to be revoked," said Kimbel.
Driving under the influence, domestic violence, or a felony conviction are all reasons a license may be revoked.
"All in all though, violent crimes have gone down in Kentucky since the concealed carry legislation has passed and I think it's a good law and it helps protect our citizens in the event of emergency. They don't have to wait for the police to arrive because they can provide for their own safety which was the apparent intent of the legislature," Kimbel said.
The Kentucky Reciprocity Agreement recognizes valid concealed carry licenses issued by other states, meaning a person holding a valid license from another state may carry a concealed weapon in Kentucky.
There are currently 37 states that honor a Kentucky license and 13 states that do not.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, permits for women are increasing rapidly.
Between 2012 and 2018, the percent of women with permits grew 111% faster than for men.
Austin says her license is a form of protection.
"Just the way life is now, life's a little more dangerous sadly to say. Just in case you find yourself in an ugly situation where it may cost you your life," Austin said.
She spent the day in a classroom training and then took her knowledge to the range to complete the class.
For more information on concealed carry licenses in Kentucky go to Kentucky State Police CCDW.