Almost half of new gun buyers women: research

Almost half of new gun buyers women: research
© Getty Images

Nearly half of all new U.S. gun buyers since the start of 2019 were women, according to new data, a tremendous shift in the historically male-dominated market.

Preliminary results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey obtained by The Wall Street Journal found that an estimated 3.5 million women in the U.S. became gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021. In that same period, 4 million men became gun owners. 

Past surveys have found only about 10 to 20 percent of gun owners were women.

ADVERTISEMENT

The National Firearms Survey polled more than 19,000 adults, one of the largest national population-based surveys about gun purchasing ever conducted, according to the Journal.

Researchers and gun store owners say the demographic changes in gun owners may be driven by fears driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and various protests across the country that at times turned violent.

The survey, designed by Deborah Azrael and Matthew Miller, also found that new gun buyers were more racially diverse than previous owners who purchased additional firearms, the news outlet reported. Of all new gun buyers, 55 percent were white, 21 percent were Black and 19 percent were Hispanic. Among women, 28 percent were Black.

In contrast, existing gun owners who bought more firearms during that time were 71 percent male and 74 percent white.

Previous efforts by the gun industry to market to women have had little success. The primary strategy to sell to women was known in the industry as "Shrink it and Pink it," producing smaller guns with brighter colors, the Journal reported. 

Now, some companies are beginning to scrap the gendered and sexualized marketing in favor of designing guns that are easier to use.

Wendy Hauffen, chief executive of the gun-rights advocacy group San Diego Gun Owners, told The Wall Street Journal that she founded the group in 2019 to combat sexual assault and domestic violence. It runs a program that pairs a woman with a female mentor for firearm training, which about 400 women have finished.

Some joined the group for personal reasons. Kanisha Johnson, 39, was almost killed by the father of her children in 2017 when he shot her in the head.

“If any type of situation like that ever happens again, I just want to be better protected,” she told the news outlet.

Others say they signed up after seeing protests and riots throughout the country. 

With a gun, “you drive into a riot, which we’ve seen on TV, at least you have a fighting chance," 74-year-old Elaine Pierce said, according to The Wall Street Journal.