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Tennessee woman whose pro-gun graduation photo went viral tries open carry in Nashville

Brenna Spencer. (Courtesy Brenna Spencer)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - A Nashville woman whose college graduation photo thrust her into the national spotlight is once again generating buzz after walking around Music City openly carrying a firearm. However, her message is not one you might expect.

Brenna Spencer first ignited debate in April when she posted her University of Tennessee Chattanooga graduation photo on Twitter. The viral photo shows Spencer with a "Women for Trump" shirt and a firearm in the waistband of her pants.

It's been shared more 17,000 times and has over 16,000 comments. While the photo sparked some debate, Spencer says it's changed her life for the better.

"I've heard from women saying I inspired them to take steps to defend themselves and get their concealed carry permits," Spencer told FOX 17 News. "This was never what I planned although I love having a bigger platfrom and being able to empower women to protect themselves."

That feedback is one reason why she has continued to share similar photos on her social media profiles.

"My mentality is the first rule of not being a victim is not looking like a victim," Spencer said. "Avoiding becoming a victim is why I promote it. I hope more women get their carry permit because as we've seen in the news recently, sometimes just saying no isn't enough."

Now four months later, Spencer decided to see how people would react if she walked around Nashville with her Smith & Wesson .380 openly.

"I definitely got some looks and did have some people comment or ask if it's legal but really, I didn't have a whole lot of confrontation," said Spencer who admits she is very careful not to break open carry laws since she has risen to internet fame. Her Twitter account ballooned to more than 60,000 followers within hours of her posting her graduation photo.

Ironically, Spencer says she's not a fan of open carry: "I'm not a fan because I don't necessarily like people knowing I carry 24/7 and don't like the weird looks."

Spencer says the experience gave her a chance to speak with others on the topic, something she welcomes: "If people want to have a civil conversation, I'm open to that. But if you can't have a normal conversation and have nothing but hate, I will ignore it."

Spencer posted photos of the experiment on her Instagram page, voicing her love and support of her hometown's gun laws, "Love Nashville, such a beautiful city but love even more that I'm able to protect myself in this city."

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