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Women, Guns, and Self Defense

23% of American women own a firearm. So if your child is asking why mommy carries a gun, the reason is simple:

Why do Women Carry Guns?

92% of US female gun owners list self-defense as the primary reason for gun ownership, 22% of those list self-defenses as the ONLY reason they own a gun while others report enjoying target shooting and hunting as well.

These numbers have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2005, just 13% of women owned a gun. In some ways this reflects a broader trend of increasing gun ownership across all demographics. From 2000 to 2020, annual gun purchases have more than doubled!

When you break it down by age:

  • 31% of women between 56-65 years old own a gun
  • Only 1% of those 18-25 report gun ownership.

This could be the result of lived experience. As women get older, the realization of the dangerous world we live in and their relative vulnerability become more acute. 17% of American women will be victims of sexual violence at some point in their life. Women are 5 times more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence than men.

Do Guns Help Protect Women?

While it is impossible to prove a causal relationship without more data, these violence statistics have declined in recent years as more women have become gun owners. From 2003-2011, the last date range for which research is available, the number of sexual assaults per 100,000 US women per year declined from 32 to 27.

There are good reasons for women to own firearms…they work!

While there are significant differences in how men and women approach gun ownership, Pew Research notes…

Majorities of both groups of gun owners consider the right to own guns to be essential to their personal sense of freedom (70% of women and 77% of men), and somewhat similar shares say being a gun owner is very or somewhat important to their overall identity (46% and 52%, respectively). On each of these questions, the differences between men and women are not statistically significant.

It seems that gun ownership is about more than JUST self-defense. It’s about autonomy, responsibility, and one’s sense of personal identity. For many people, self-reliance is an important aspect of self.

No one wants to feel vulnerable or see themselves as a victim. In this regard, firearm proficiency is a means towards a sense of power and control over one’s own body and outcomes.

More Women Are Getting Handgun Licenses

That helps explain why, between 2011 and 2018, growth among concealed handgun licenses for women grew 111% faster than men!

When you are smaller, less muscled, and possibly responsible for protecting kids, guns are the great equalizer. American women have been increasingly responding and statistics reflect that.

The firearms industry itself has changed to reflect this new reality. Gone are the images of scantily clad women holding guns, replaced with ladies’ night at gun shops and shooting ranges across the country. Today, guns are designed for women and are lighter, easier to carry, and well… pretty.

Women-only training classes are available in most communities and many gun stores have hired female staff to relate and put female gun buyers at ease.

The final factor is the increasingly lax laws in the United States that have made it legal, safe, and practical to carry outside the home. In the last 20 years, 20 states have passed laws eliminating carry licenses while every state has begun permitting some form of lawful carry of firearms.

All of these transformational changes have been driven by demand. As more women come around to the importance of gun ownership and proficiency, the market has evolved to meet their needs.

Why does mommy carry a gun? Because she loves herself and her children enough to want to protect them in a dangerous world. As female gun ownership has increased, the barriers to entry for first time gun buyers have decreased. The industry now caters to female customers and laws have been relaxed to put gun ownership within reach of most American women. Lock and load, ladies. Lock and load.

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