AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

The death of a Georgia college student and the disappearance of an Auburn student in Alabama have many women paying more attention to their own personal safety, and that led to a packed house at a recent concealed carry course in Birmingham, Alabama.

Tonya Jones joined a dozen other women in downtown Birmingham to learn how to look within for protection.

“I’d like to defend myself if I need to,” said Jones

That’s the response Jesse Fox of Fox Instructional Services and Training and Women Protection Services says she gets a lot.

”It’s ‘I have a gun but now I feel like with the way everything is going. I need to know how to use it,” said Fox.

Alexis Crawford, the Clark Atlanta student who was murdered, was allegedly killed by her roommate and her roommate’s boyfriend, two weeks after Crawford reported the boyfriend to police for sexual assault. Her body was found in a park in DeKalb county after one of the suspects led police to the body.

Meanwhile, a 29-year old named Ibraheem Razeed has been arrested in the disappearance of Auburn student Aniah Blanchard, who was last seen being pushed into a car outside a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama. While Razeed is the only person arrested, police believe there are others involved.

Searchers looking for Blanchard include the mother of Natalee Holloway, an Alabama teenager who disappeared on a graduation trip to Aruba in 2005. Her mother, Beth Holloway, is working on the Blanchard case with Texas EquuSearch, a mounted search and recovery team, the group posted on its Facebook page.

Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said it’s not clear if Blanchard and Yazeed knew each other, though authorities don’t have any reason to believe they did. And he said authorities believe Yazeed didn’t act alone.

“We do think there’s a likelihood someone else is involved in this case and we hope to bring that person to justice as well,” he said.

With stories like these capturing the attention of women, it’s no wonder Jesse Fox had a good crowd for her concealed carry course, including Tonya Jones.

“My No. 1 goal is you walk out of here educated not just on a gun but on the laws – knowing what happens if you have to use something in self-defense,” said Fox.

The class was mostly made up of women of color, an increase in attendance Fox said he noticed after November 2016.

Based on recent murders and disappearances in the Southeast, more women are seeking out ways to fight back.

“I don’t want to be fearful when I go shopping, when I’m out with my son, or wherever I am. I want to be comfortable knowing that I know how to defend myself,” said Jones.

I love that so many women are feeling empowered to protect themselves and their loved ones these days. Violent crime may be declining in most of the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s disappeared. The right of self-defense is a human right, and the more of us that exercise it the better off we all are. The odds of any of these individual women needing to use their firearm to protect their life may be relatively small, but the risk of being unable to protect yourself when need be is simply too big to ignore.