NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. --- Case Western Reserve University law school student Lydia Bronstein grew up around guns in Northern Virginia--immersed herself in safety classes and tagged along with her father who taught her how to shoot. And, as of Friday, she's one of a growing number of women who are card carrying members of the National Rifle Association.
"Hearing Wayne LaPierre talk today, it just energized me and made me want to join," she recounted, standing excitedly with her "swag bag" of NRA goodies including bumper stickers and a new hat.
Bronstein was one of many women here at the Conservative Political Action Conference who flew out of their seats when LaPierre shouted from the podium "the one thing a violent rapist deserves is a good woman with a gun."
LaPierre poked fun at Vice President Joe Biden who advocated women who face a home intruder to go out and fire a double-barrel shotgun into the air.
"The Vice President of the United States actually told women facing an attack to empty their shotguns into the air? Have they lost their minds over at the White House?" LaPIerre said. "You keep your advice, we'll keep our guns."
LaPierre's speech was further evidence of the NRA's growing desire to broaden its coalition and appeal to more women.
But downstairs at the exhibit hall, the outreach continues as women line up alongside men and NRA representatives help ladies mount a laser gun on their shoulders to play virtual shooting games.
When they're finished, NRA reps give the women nail files and a women's guide to guns.
Natalie Foster, who is the founder of Girls Guide to Guns--which bills itself as "a website dedicated to women who dig fashion and fire power"--says the NRA's strategy is the perfect outreach to a constituency who at times as been dubious of guns.
Some polls show a major gender gap between men and women when it comes to gun control. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in January showed that women supported a semi-automatic gun ban by 20 more points than men. They favored a ban on high-capacity magazines by 15 points.
Foster, who is skeptical of such a wide gender gap, says now more than ever, the NRA needs women to join in the movement to protect Second Amendment rights.
"Women help shape the discussions, which is really wonderful," Foster says. "It is our time to get out there and drive the conversations. We are the moms out there, we are the single ladies, the small business owners, the women who are living alone, and we need to protect ourselves."
Foster says since she started her blog and she has worked with the NRA to educate women about firearms, she's seen a lot more women carrying guns.
"There are a lot of women out there still who are still intimidated, still a little scared," Foster admits. "Women can be helped by the NRA."
But Foster says it's not all about keeping an attacker away.
"Guns are about protection, but they are also about fun. I enjoy going shooting with my girlfriends," she adds.
Waiting in line to shoot a laser gun at the NRA booth, Theresa Niedzwiecki, who is a 20-year-old student at St. Mary's college in Minnesota, says she cannot wait until she turns 21 and can get herself a firearm.
"I live in the country. My family has always had guns," NIedzviecki says. "When I am 21, I hope to get a conceal carry and I want to get a pistol. Women should be able to have them for protection reasons."