Women are nearly half of new gun buyers, study finds


Preliminary results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey, designed by Deborah Azrael of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Matthew Miller of Northeastern University, show that an estimated 3.5 million women became new gun owners this year from January 2019 to April 2019. About 4 million men became new gun owners in that period, they found.

Over the decades, other surveys have found that approximately 10% to 20% of American gun owners were women.

The number of federal background checks for gun purchases hit an all-time high of 21 million in 2020, according to an analysis of federal data by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group.

Researchers and gun shop owners have attributed the jump to fears and protests inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes with violence, such as the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the divisive atmosphere surrounding the 2020 presidential election .

The National Firearms Survey polled more than 19,000 adults. This is one of the largest representative, population-based surveys nationally about gun purchases ever made, Dr. Azrael said.

In addition to its findings on gender, the survey found that new gun buyers were more racially diverse than existing owners who had bought more. Of the new gun buyers, 55% were white, 21% were black and 19% were Hispanic. Of the new female gun owners, 28% were black. The 19.6 million current gun owners who bought firearms over 2019 were 71% male and 74% white.

After women came forward with stories of sexual assault and harassment as part of the #MeToo movement, Wendy Hoffen, chief executive of gun-rights advocacy group San Diego Gun Owners, said she called for NotMeSD to tackle sexual harassment in 2019. Decided to find more domestic violence through more women carrying firearms. About 400 women have gone through this program, which connects them with women mentors who guide them in gun buying and training.

Kanisha Johnson, 39, joined NotMeSD and bought a 9mm Glock earlier this year. According to court records, in 2017 the father of her children nearly killed her by shooting her in the head.

“If this kind of situation ever happens again, I just want to better be safe,” Ms Johnson said.

First, the sound of his gun will give him flashbacks to shoot him, she said. But now, she said she feels safe keeping a handgun to protect herself and her five children.

Ellen Pierce said she decided to sign up for NotMeSD after witnessing protests against police brutality in robbing and burning cars in a San Diego suburb last summer. Calling the police to defame him further added to his concern. “I’ve seen riots before, but the police were always there,” said the 74-year-old, landscape-company owner. With a gun, “You run a riot, which we’ve seen on TV, at least you have a fighting chance.”

Fear of being caught in riots was often told by new gun owners in the San Diego chapter of A Girl and a Gun, another shooting club for women, that chapter founder Judy Wells said she thought about surviving that way. I had recorded a radio show. a situation.

In a recent chapter meeting at a local range, Ms Wells, 64, led five women in target-shooting practice. “Give the body, one to the head,” he instructed.

Afterwards, the group discussed some of the risks. Studies show that gun-ownership is associated with higher suicide rates and that domestic abuse against women is more likely to be fatal when the abuser has access to a gun.

“We are aware of the research,” said Dakota Adelphia, who ran the chapter. “That’s what education is for.”

The gun industry tried for decades to sell firearms to women, with little success. Much of its strategy was known in the industry as “shrink it and pink it” – producing small handguns in bright colors. Now, the industry is designing handguns that are easy to manipulate for those with smaller hands. Some companies have abandoned sexual marketing targeted at men, such as women in bikinis posing with new firearm models.

On a recent Sunday at an outdoor range in the Angeles National Forest outside Los Angeles, Nealan Barnes practiced with the Girls’ Gun Club, a group that has grown to more than 1,500 members since its founding in 2014. Ms Barnes, 53, a sociology professor, got her first gun, a Glock, last September as she saw supporters of then-President Donald Trump drive past her house on the way to rallies after a breakdown in social order. was worried about.

Trainers, mostly women wearing black tops and pants, led the group through drills such as kicking at the door of a fake house and firing rapidly at targets in different rooms.

“They may not identify as feminists, but they are empowered women who know how to use guns,” Ms Barnes said.

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