There are no gender and racial limitations when it comes to the fundamental human right of self-defense.

via The Chicago Tribune

At first glance, nothing differentiates Vernetta Robinzine from passers-by in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago's Far South Side. On a recent evening, like most people on a workday, she donned business casual attire with a loose, bright blouse. But her daily wardrobe includes something unseen that gives her confidence.

Robinzine, 51, is a gun owner with a concealed carry license. Since she received her permit in late spring, she carries her firearm wherever she goes.

"It's like a part of me now," Robinzine said with a smile.

Data show Robinzine is part of a burgeoning group in Cook County: black women obtaining concealed carry permits. Since Illinois began issuing licenses in 2014, the number of African-American women receiving a permit in Cook County has grown every year.

About 800 black women got a license in 2014, according to Illinois State Police. So far in 2017, nearly 1,400 black women have received a concealed carry permit — already more than all of 2016. In all, more than 4,000 black women have received a concealed carry license in Cook County.

To be sure, black women still make up a relatively small percentage of those applying for permits, trailing white women, white men and black men in each of the past three years. And these figures do not include the number of women who have obtained guns and do not have a permit.

African-American women interviewed for this article said they were spurred by a growing concern for their safety, particularly in neighborhoods where crime has surged in recent years.