As the debate over gun control heats up, a rising number of women are buying guns.
A Gallup poll found that 13% of all women owned a gun in 2005. Just six years later in 2011, that number jumped to 23% and could spike even higher this year after an overall rise in gun sales triggered by the shootings in Newton, Connecticut.
So what’s behind this surge in women packing heat?
Some point to larger numbers of women raising families on their own and turning to guns to protect themselves and their children—despite studies showing the contrary. A 2003 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that, women with a gun in the home were nearly three times as likely to be the victim of homicide than women living in homes without guns.
“Having a gun in your home, definitely exponentially raises your risk as a woman of being victim to gun related violence,” said Lea Goldman, editor at Marie Claire, on Jansing & Co.
Others point to clever marketing by gun manufacturers—making firearms with smaller, lighter frames in a variety of colors to attract women.
The majority of gun owners are still overwhelmingly male but this growing number of women breaking the stereotype and owning guns could impact the national discussion on gun control.
IVillage Chief Correspondent Kelly Wallace told Chris Jansing that along with mothers who are mobilizing in support of gun control, there are large numbers of women who don’t see that as the answer.
“You do see moms on the other side too,” said Wallace, “Moms who feel that gun control is not the answer, that it’s going the wrong way. They want more focus on mental health and helping those kids in need.”