In the swirling cauldron of the national debate about guns one recurring meme is that women are a rapidly growing segment of the gun owning population. Historically guns have been seen as a male thing. Men went out hunting. Women took care of the house. The protection of women and children was a male responsibility. Now organizations like the NRA who think that more guns are the obvious answer to gun related violence are promoting gun ownership by women as an essential means of self protection and personal security.
There has been significant media attention focused on the issue. This is a good example of coverage which unquestioningly regurgitates the NRA's propaganda.
There is a new trend among women and it has nothing to do with high heels or hemlines. Conversations about caliber and kick back are swirling as across the country, the number of female shooters is on the rise.There are sites which promote gun ownership and training which take a more thoughtful tone. Women and Guns is a site that seems to be presenting gun ownership as a choice for women concerned about self protection, with protection from sexual assault being high on the list. Concurrent with public discussions about the gun culture we are also having a discussion about the rape culture. Personally I have no problem accepting the notion that we live in a society that is geared to concealing rape. We have very plausible research that one in five women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. This is an atmosphere that creates constant tension and insecurity for most women. Certainly there are women who chose to own a gun as a means of protection against sexual assault.
"More and more women are coming into gun ownership and the number of women participating in recreational shooting has risen exponentially," said Rachel Parsons of the National Rifle Association, which will hold its annual national convention April 29-May 1 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. Included on the schedule is a women-only NRA Pistol Instructor Training class. (Registration ended Friday.)
There is another trend among women that fits more closely with a traditional picture of feminist activism.
Gun control has not traditionally been considered a "women's issue." But in the wake of one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, women's rights groups are joining forces with gun control advocates to lend some major political muscle to the effort to regulate assault weapons.Women as mothers have concerns about guns that go beyond the dramatic murder of children in incidents like Sandy Hook. A much more frequent cause of injury or death for children are accidents or incidents of domestic violence using family owned guns.
"MomsRising hasn't previously been engaged in this policy area, but we are now, because our members are asking us to take action," Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of advocacy group MomsRising, told The Huffington Post. "They're very, very concerned about the current state of gun safety and our children and our families and our communities."
I'd like to share a thoughtful article that makes an effort to examine the media hype about the rush of women to become gun owners.
You know all those stories about how women are ‘the fastest-growing group of new gun owners’? Well, we took a closer look.
A Gallup poll from last October showed a dramatic a spike in the percentage of women who report that they personally own guns. The poll is often cited in recent reports about trends of female gun owners. A record-high of 43 percent of women in the telephone survey reported having a gun in the household, and 23 percent of women said that they personally own a gun. Only 15 percent reported owning a gun in 2010.
But Gallup Poll Managing Editor Jeff Jones says that this large shift in the numbers does not necessarily mean that more women are actually becoming gun owners. The survey's random sample of 1,005 adults could have included "a slightly higher proportion of women gun owners than in prior years," Jones said in an email. While the percentage of women who report owning a gun might have gone up, Jones suspects this year's poll might be skewed a bit high.
There are other reasons not to jump to big conclusions about Gallup's findings. The General Social Survey (GSS), run every two years by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, paints a radically different picture of women's gun ownership. According to their 2010 survey, 8.9 percent of women reported owning a gun in 2010. That number has hovered around 10 and 11 percent for the last ten years.I've always been fond of the saying. There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. One of the great problems in exploring the issues of gun ownership and gun violence is that the NRA has successfully blocked government funding of serious research into the issues. Is the war on women driving women to take up arms en masse? We really need more than a couple of opinion polls to conclude that a major change is under way.