FORT WORTH, Texas — Nikkita Gordon was walking home after her shift at a Waffle House in Carrollton, Georgia when she realized a man who had been watching her inside the restaurant for several hours was now following her across the parking lot.

“He said, ‘I’m going to walk you home,’ and I said, ‘I’ve got nothing on me.’ All I had was a jacket,” Gordon told me, as she explained the design behind her patented gun holster and its ability to be sewn into the inner lining of any garment. Gordon had never held a firearm before her encounter with the Waffle House stranger who she would later find out was a registered sex offender. Now she’s the founder and CEO of Cute & Cocky Firearm Accessories and Apparel.

Nikkita Gordon is the CEO and founder of Cute & Cocky.

Gordon, 26, was just one of the countless women attending this weekend’s Conceal Carry and Home Defense Expo, hosted by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA). The expo was not your stereotypical white, male gun show crowd, sprinkled with a handful of token vendors aimed at women. This time, it was the attendees, not the event organizers who seemed to be driving the diversity.

Moms walked around wearing baby carriers and breastfed infants while sitting in seminars. Grandmothers pushed strollers around the exhibit hall where rows of floor space were dedicated to belly bands, leggings, purses, and other products designed to help women conceal carry.

Keeping with their mission to train and educate, the USCCA expo featured a live-fire indoor range where attendees could try out new guns, as well as seminars and demonstrations offered throughout the weekend. Experts covered topics such as “Concealed Carry for Women,” “Intruder Awareness & Church Security Reality-Based Training,” and “Children’s Firearm Safety Fundamentals.”

If the Fort Worth Convention Center on a November Saturday is any indication, there’s a new kind of gun owner in America, and the gun industry is taking note.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 2020’s record-breaking surge in new gun ownership was more than just a spike. An NSSF survey of gun retailers found that 40 percent of Americans making firearm purchases were buying one for the first time, and of those first-time buyers, 40 percent were women. Gun stores also found that 58 percent of firearm purchases were by black men and women, “the largest increase of any demographic group.”

Tim Schmidt, president and founder of USCCA, said his organization, which focuses on education, training, and self-defense insurance for gun owners, has seen USCCA membership align with this new demographic of gun owners.

“Five years ago in America, the gun owner was a white, conservative male. Now it’s all over the map, just like our country,” Schmidt told The Federalist.

Katie Pointer Baney, USCAA’s managing director of government affairs, said she attributes the shift to a “self-defense awakening.”

“Whether it’s Covid or civil unrest, I think the concept of self-reliance, the concept of personal responsibility is driving millions of new gun owners,” she said. “We have to welcome them in and show them that firearm ownership is for everyone, irrespective of suburban, urban, rural — it’s protecting yourself and your family.”

We’ve seen this movement in the data for two years, but now we are seeing it in real life: Women and black Americans are putting an end to white men and criminals cornering the market on guns.