Editor's Note: This article is part 4 of our series about the National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) report, "Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation." We invite you to read part 1 here.
We've explored nearly every facet of firearm ownership for women except for a very fundamental question: What are the reasons motivating women to purchase and own firearms? In G&A's fourth and final installment of the NSSF's report, we examine the driving factors of a woman's interest in owning firearms.
According to the survey, the biggest motivator for a woman's firearm purchase is personal defense. Nearly half of the women in the survey cited either self-defense (26.2%) or home defense (22%) as the "most important reason to own a gun." Hunting was also a significant motivator for ownership at 15.3 percent, but no other factor garnered more than 10 percent of the responses.
To further substantiate the claim that women primarily purchase firearms for defensive use, we can explore the "attitude" data in the report. Exactly 81.6 percent of the women surveyed agreed with the statement, "I feel more secure now that I own a gun." Only 3 percent disagreed. Nearly 71 percent of the women responded in the affirmative to the statement, "I feel a need to own a gun for safety reasons," and exactly half of the women agreed that they "feel more empowered" by gun ownership. As a tangible indicator of a woman's defensive mindset, 42 percent of those surveyed possess a permit or lawful right to carry a concealed firearm and an additional 29.4 percent planned to obtain a permit in the 12 months following the survey.
There is one trend, other than self-defense, that is emergent in the data: a desire to be self-reliant. Perhaps due to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or a nationwide movement toward survival preparedness, women are giving more thought to being able to function in an austere environment. Nearly 74 percent of women agreed with the statement that it is "necessary to know how to use a gun for survival" and 4.5 percent of women cited a desire to be self-sufficient as their primary motivator for purchasing a gun. This information may not be groundbreaking news to some, but it is interesting and suggests that women are not immune to societal trends in this area.
Women today are buying guns for everything from collecting to competition shooting, but the primary factor influencing women to purchase a firearm is clearly their personal safety and that of their loved ones. This is perhaps the least-surprising conclusion that we've seen from the data and one area where the stereotype meets reality.
When we examine the NSSF's report in its entirety, the data tells us that women are buying guns for self-defense, buying the right hardware for that purpose, and that they are seeking professional training to use them safely and effectively. As gun owners, we should all be supportive and encouraging this movement forward and avoid reinforcing age-old social stereotypes.