It’s no secret that gun sales have spiked of late, with new calls for legislative and executive action following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting sending consumers out to purchase the weapons of their choice before potential restrictions forbid them from doing so. But among the general increase in gun sales is a growing pattern of firearm possession and use among women.
While there’s still a major gender gap in ownership when comparing women and men — a 2011 Gallup poll found that 23 percent of women own guns as opposed to 46 percent of men — the tides are changing. Just consider the fact that a Gallup poll in 2005 found that only 13 percent of women personally owned a firearm. That’s a 10 percentage-point jump worth noteworthy. Plus, there are other indicators. The New York Times has more:
Women’s participation in shooting sports has surged over the last decade, increasing by 51.5 percent for target shooting from 2001 to 2011, to just over 5 million women, and by 41.8 percent for hunting, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
Gun sales to women have risen in concert. In a survey last year by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 73 percent of gun dealers said the number of female customers had gone up in 2011, as had a majority of retailers surveyed in the two previous years.
In describing the growth of female shooters during a special investigation into this phenomenon, CNN’s Ed Lavandera quipped that ”Prada and bling” are increasingly meeting “bullets and pistol grips.” In exploring this development, he visited some locations where women are helping one another learn how to shoot properly.
Take Rene Blaine, for instance, who, along with her husband Dean, founded Austin Hotshots, a firearms school in Austin, Texas. Blaine, who has a passion for helping other women learn how to properly use weapons, told Lavandera that she’s seen explosive growth of late among females who are interested in weaponry.
“The movement towards women in guns is unlike something I’ve never seen before,” she said.
The firearms instructor might be on to something, as Lavandera notes that, while female gun ownership remained steady during the two decades leading up to 2010, it has since been surging.
“More women are getting involved in firearms, because there’s kind of a societal shift,” Niki Jones, founder of Austin Sure Shots, also told the CNN reporter. “There’s not a stigma attached to owning a gun and I think women who decide they want to own a gun want training. They want to be safe…and that’s what we are all about.”
Like Blaine, Jones is intent on helping women prepare and equip themselves to be viable shooters. Her female gun league works to provide a “safe, enjoyable and educational environment for ladies of all ages and experience levels.” In addition to recreational shooting, Austin Sure Shots helps women prepare for competition as well as defensive shooting.
Watch the CNN report highlighting these experts’ opinions, below:
The gun industry is paying attention to the emerging interest coming from women. That’s why many business have adapted to this change by offering bright colored and animal-print guns, bra holsters and other tools that are specifically designed for females.
The web site Girl’s Guide to Guns, for one, provides news and information for women looking to get into the gun scene. And then there’s Sweet Shot, which promises to help ladies “look cute” while they shoot through the availability of gender-based products. If this pattern continues, it’s likely that more women-centric gun products and businesses will emerge.