Chicago Woman Faces Fear of Guns, Trains Other Women

Andrea Watson, DNA Info
Andrea Watson, DNA Info


Chicago resident Javondlynn M. Dunagan, a retired federal probation officer of 25 years, is now teaching firearms and self-defense classes to South Side residents. What makes Dunagan so unique though? She’s an African American woman who was afraid of guns. In fact, she spent her 25 years as a probation officer unarmed.


“I used to look at a gun and think it was just going to jump off the table,” Dunagan told DNA Info.

Things changed for Dunagan when her and her husband, a police officer, divorced. In 2013, she decided to take classes so she could learn how to safely and accurately carry a firearm.

“I said, ‘I’m going to tackle this fear and start carrying a gun, and I’m going to get over this,’ and it turned out I fell in love with firearms,” she said.

As she went to the gun range to practice, she noticed something significant: there weren’t very many women, especially African-American women. When Dunagan’s daughter went off

When her daughter was about to go off to college, Dunagan wanted to enroll her in self-defense classes but realized there were no opportunities on Chicago’s South Side. That’s when Dunagan decided to open up her own range where women could learn how to become comfortable around and proficient with firearms.


“I said if I used to be afraid of guns and now I’m loving this, I’m certain there are other women who have this same fear, and so I started talking to other ladies, and it was the same thing,” Dunagan said.

The club is strictly open to women and currently has 17 members.

“That really impressed me,” said member Sheryl Franklin. “I was excited about it because there was finally someone who understood my fear of guns, overcame it and was now sharing that with women.”

Are you a woman on the South Side who wants to learn how to train? Visit Dunagan’s website here.

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