Women Gun Owners: Not Just a Trend Anymore

Women shootingIt's no secret that women can enjoy shooting just as much as men. But would you believe women are becoming the face of the sport?

According to a report from CBS News, the national total for female gun owners has doubled over the last decade, increasing to nearly 5 million women since 2001.

The focus tends to be on defense. A 2010 story from the Washington Times, citing a study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Southwik Associates, 80 percent of female gun owners purchased firearms for self-defense. In addition, 35 percent armed themselves for target practice, and 24 percent for hunting.

Though the federal government does not track gun sales by sex, local independent studies have shown an increase among female buyers. In North Carolina, for example, officials noted a 15 percent increase in Mecklenberg County over a two-year span, according to Armed Females of America.

Of course, the increasing demographic isn't just localized to North Carolina. In Kentucky, sporting store owner Randy Glauber told The Daily he's noticed the trend, and he took full advantage of it during the Christmas shopping season.

"Basically, the idea is to get the ladies out of the mall and into my shop," said Glauber, owner of Glauber's Sports in Carrollton, Ky., adding that one of the store's hottest items -- a Russian-made rifle priced at $79.99 -- was a popular item among female shoppers. "... I've had little old ladies come in... and buy them by the crate for gifts for all the men in the family," Glauber said. "Across the board, we used to sell to men, adult men, ages 18 to 45. Now we're advertising to everybody."

And pink guns? Glauber plans to have more of them next year, noting a huge demand for the rosy rifles.

"I can't keep a pink gun on the shelf. That kind of marketing, it's kind of weird but it works," he said.

Though grandmas packin' heat probably aren't the first thing you think of when you think of shooting, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the industry is churning out more products aimed at women. In recent years, for example, pink guns have become more mainstream -- beginning as a fad before the brightly colored firearms evolved into top sellers.

But the rising trend isn't just mere aesthetics. Gun companies like Heizer and Colt have introduced -- or in Colt's case, re-introduced -- lighter, smaller-frame guns that are not only easier to conceal, but are also easier to handle while still doing the work of any larger-frame handgun.

And it goes far beyond just guns. Holsters, jackets, cases, vests -- any gun accessory you can think of, chances are there's a version made exclusively for women.

The trend is obviously paying dividends for families that have not just one, but two and sometimes more legal gun owners in the house, each trained in proper gun safety.

The basic desire to own a gun, however, ultimately derives from a general interest in shooting.

"All of us are brought together by the love of the sport," Lesa Ellanson, a certified shooting instructor for the National Rifle Association's "Women on Target" program, told CBS, adding that shooting doesn't necessarily take away from a woman's femininity. "It would depend on how you define femininity. I think a capable woman is the most feminine expression of power that there is."

Is there a woman in your life that has taken up shooting or bought a gun recently? Tell us about it in the comments.

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