INWOOD, W.Va. (WDVM) — Close to half of all gun buyers over the past two years have been women. Why the shift in a market long dominated by men?
For decades women have accounted for only about 10 to 20% of gun owners. University research into federal background checks and data compiled by the National Shooting Sports Association show women are rapidly closing the gap.
Leanne Mosher is a sales associate at Valley Guns II, just off I-81 in Inwood, West Virginia. She said that “there has been an increase in women just in general but the last year or so almost daily we’ve had about the same number of women as men coming in and some days there more women here than men.”
“A lot of people are living on their own now so they don’t want to rely on other people and with the police forces and stuff being shorthanded they can’t seem to get there in time so they don’t want to be relying on somebody else to help them,” Mosher explained.
The data show not only a gender shift in the gun buyers market, but gun buyers are more racially diverse now too. Domestic violence — or even aggressive sexual harassment — is another reason for the spike in gun purchases by women.
Mosher says the growth of target ranges for recreation is another reason. But nationally there is also a heightened concern among women about neighborhood looting and burning. Yet access to firearms in states as different as West Virginia and neighboring Maryland pose quite the contrast.
“Just Maryland, in general – the politics of everything – they’re more, I guess, anti-gun, and so they make it extra hard. There are extra classes you have to take, a longer waiting period, you have to have a permit to even own a gun,” said Mosher.
And the industry, capitalizing on the consumer trend, is now designing handguns for buyers with smaller hands. These latest statistics also show, that with the rise in gun ownership, there is a high suicide rate and that domestic abuse against women is more likely to turn deadly when the abuser has access to a gun.