(MYSANANTONIO) — A mix of older and younger women, 10 in all, stood shoulder to shoulder and held steady.

Chris Patten, their firearms instructor, spoke: “Weapons up. Stand by. … Fire!”

A cacophony of small-arms fire broke out, as if metallic popcorn was being cooked on a stove.

The group was taking a concealed carry class taught by Bracken Guns on Nacogdoches Road. It’s part of an increasing national trend of women buying guns and getting permits to carry them.

A debate over gun rights, which has simmered the past two decades, boiled over after shooting sprees in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn. Gun sales spiked nationally, especially after the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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