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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A minister posing with a church manual in one hand and a 9 mm handgun in the other. A tax analyst cradling her AR-15 semi-automatic. A flight attendant taking aim, her blue fingernail polish glowing alongside the Glock 40. A banker in a black summer dress checking the chamber.

They are among the American black women now picking up firearms and learning how to shoot. Most say they want to protect their homes, families and themselves.

“What’s going to happen if something goes bump in the night?” says Laura Manning, a 50-year-old payroll specialist wearing a pink ruffled blouse. “I need to protect myself.”

But some point to worries about today’s political climate inspiring violence.

Markysha Carter, a 40-year-old marketing specialist for a bank, wants to make sure she stays safe should she ever be stopped by a police officer.

“As a black person in America, this is a major problem,” she says. “You hope and pray you’re following all the rules and that officer stopping you is following all the rules and doesn’t have an agenda.”

Dana R. Mitchell, a 47-year-old minister, says she has seen too many news reports of violence,and wants to be prepared.

“I don’t want this sweet face to fool you,” Mitchell says.