The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recently released a comprehensive report on women and firearms. The report, “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation,” represents a survey of more than 1,000 women, which explores nearly every aspect of gun ownership.
G&A Staff will analyze the report, which was released on January 21, 2015, in a forthcoming series to examine several topics surrounding women and gun ownership.
Fifty percent of the respondents, some 500 women gun owners, reside in the southern part of the United States. The swath of big cities, sprawling suburbs, and small towns from Texas and Oklahoma, east across Kentucky and Virginia, and all points south are home to as many gun owning women as the rest of the nation combined. Nationwide, 42.8 percent of women gun owners live in rural areas, while suburban women comprise 39.1 percent. Women in urban areas comprise only 18 percent of the gun owning population, which may be related to the strict gun laws and overall cultural forces of this country’s urban centers. Adult women of all age groups own firearms, but over half of the women gun owners surveyed were between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.
Though we hear a great deal about the number of women who have recently acquired their first firearm, the bulk of those surveyed, 42.1 percent, have owned a gun for at least 10 years. Nearly a third of the women surveyed, though, are part of the female gun surge of the past few years, that’s over 32 percent of respondents who bought their first gun since 2010.
Of those new gun owners, the majorities are between the ages of 18 and 34 so there is evidence of an emergent female gun culture among young women in the U.S. Though 65 percent of women gun owners reported a spouse or significant other as a fellow gun owner, nearly 30 percent were the only gun owners in their households.
Though stereotypes suggest that women gun owners are likely to own but a single firearm, the data suggests otherwise. In fact, 42 percent of the women surveyed own three or more guns with 6.5 percent reportedly owning 10 or more firearms. Just over 30 percent of the respondents did report ownership of a single firearm, but 55 percent of the overall group surveyed plan to purchase another firearm during the next year so that single gun may very well become part of a small collection.
So are all of these guns going into the sock drawer until a bad guy breaks down the door? Apparently not. More than 800 of the women surveyed used their guns in the previous year and nearly 60 percent intend to maintain that level of shooting activity in the next 12 months. Interestingly, 38 percent of the women intend to shoot even more next year, compared to only 3.5 percent who plan to shoot less.
Based on the data, it appears that many long-held stereotypes regarding women and gun ownership are wrong. More women are buying guns, many are buying more than one, and it appears as if they are shooting them with some regularity.
To continue reading: click here for “Women & Guns Part 2: Types of Guns”