Guns

Female Gun Ownership Up in America, While Male Gun Ownership Continues to Shrink

The gun gender gap is growing smaller.

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Wikimedia Commons

Women with guns make up a bigger share of the arms-owning American population than they did two decades ago, according to a recent national survey. The change is more reflective of a decline in male gun ownership than a huge increase in female gun owners, although the percent of U.S. women who owned guns in 2015 was up three percent over 1994.

Handguns have been the fastest-growing category of gun ownership overall, with an estimated 111 million American handgun owners in 2015. Researchers found that handguns accounted for 42 percent of all guns reported in the survey. In 1994, handguns accounted for just 34 percent of all guns.

The study, conducted in 2015 by Harvard and Northeastern University researchers and released to British newspaper The Guardian, found that while the estimated total number of guns in the U.S. is up—265 million in 2015, from 192 million in 1994—the proportion of Americans who own them has gone down. In the (nationally representative, online) survey of nearly 4,000 U.S. adults, 22 percent of respondents owned at least one gun, down from 25 percent in a national '94 phone survey.

In 1994, an estimated 42 percent of American men owned at least one gun; in 2015, it was just 32 percent of men.

Over the same period, the number of female gun owners changed from 9 percent to 12 percent—but researchers say the shift is not necessarily meaningful. Since the 1980s, U.S. women's gun ownership rates have fluctuated between 9 and 14 percent.

Still, "the new survey provides support for the National Rifle Association's assertion that the total number of female gun owners has grown in recent years, even if the percentage of women owning guns has not increased substantially," said The Guardian. Handgun growth has been driven by an increase in female owners, it reported, with women surveyed more likely than men to say they owned a gun for self-defense.

Lead study author and Harvard School of Public Health researcher Deborah Azrael told the paper that American gun ownership is driven by "increasing fearfulness."

In Azrael's research, U.S. women were more likely to own a handgun (5 percent) or both a handgun and a rifle or shotgun (5 percent) than they were to own a non-handgun alone (2 percent). Men, meanwhile, were most likely to own both a handgun and a rifle or shotgun (18 percent) and least likely to own only a handgun (7 percent). A few other interesting findings:

  • Military service was the strongest predictor of gun ownership, with 44 percent of verterans surveyed saying they owned a gun.
  • People making more than $100,000 annually were the most likely to say they owned guns (making up 25 percent of all the gun owners in the survey), while those making less than $25,000 were the least likely(13 percent).
  • A quarter of whites, 16 percent of Hispanics, and 14 percent of blacks surveyed said they owned a gun.
  • Young adults were the least likely to report gun ownership. Just 13 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents said they owned guns, compared to 21 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds, 24 percent of 45- to 59-year-olds, and 25 percent of those age 60 and up.
  • More than half of the guns reported were owned by just 3 percent of respondents

It's hard to be quite clear what to make of some of these without seeing the actual study, which was released exclusively to the Guardian, but you can find a few more details here.

According to the government's General Social Survey, individual gun ownership in the U.S. fell from 28 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 2014. Pew Research Center has tracked American gun ownership since 1993, when it found 45 percent of U.S. households reported having a gun. In 2013, Pew found that 33 percent of households had a gun.

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  1. I have serious doubts about the accuracy about such a survey. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t answer any survey questions about my firearms.

    1. You’re suggesting that the ladies are more gabby about their gun ownership? Way to stereotype, Hitler.

    2. The demographic breakdown could easily reflect who is willing to talk and who isn’t. Any survey on the subject is probably worthless.

    3. The accuracy of the survey, and other things.

    4. I am just mortified about the whole male shrinkage part. That leaves me very suspicious of the intent of the article.

      “Female guns grow while males experience shrinkage”.

      Yeah, biased.

      1. I knew it wouldn’t be too long before the shrinkage angle was noticed. Faith restored, monocle adjusted, I can again return to watching the orphans in the mines.

    5. Reading the gunblogs, almost nobody who cares about gun rights ever answers “yes” on such surveys.

      Who’s going to tell a stranger – let alone one working for the government in an administration and administrative culture hostile to gun ownership – about that?

  2. The average woman’s revolver holds 4.62 bullets compared to a man’s.

    1. See because that’s like 77% of 6.

      /But my revolver only holds 5. My auto holds 20+1.

      1. Don’t

        Ever

        Explain

        The

        Joke.

    2. +1 Lean in.

    3. Nobody needs more than 4.62 bullets.

  3. RE: Number of Female Gun Owners Up While Male Gun Ownership Continues to Fall
    The gun gender gap is growing smaller.

    Gun ownership for women rising?
    This should never be tolerated. The woman’s place is in the kitchen making cookies for Dear Leader, not the firing range. Just ask any gun-grabbing progressive. Besides, having a woman pull a gun on a potential mugger or rapist will not only frighten the criminal, it will severely damage his self worth.
    I’m sure no woman would want to do that.

    1. First strikes again, this comment was the sole reason I was heading to this article. I salute you sir. *salutes then jumps out office window (1st floor)

      1. First Fist. (same thing)

        1. Everyone was thinking it. I was the only one with the cojones to risk alienating all the lady libertarians here.

          1. That^.

            And the fact that you have the worst case of penis envy going.

            1. That doesn’t even make any sense. I don’t own any lady guns (which I assume are smaller than a man’s gun and are pink with frills or tassels of some sort).

              1. Lady guns handle more abuse. 20% more in fact. *I’m going to hell

          2. You’ve alienated 3 people. You monster.

            1. No, only one. One is trans and the other gender-neutral.

          3. Ooooh. You’re a dare devil. The ladies like that.

    2. Good, bad? I’m the one with the cock.

  4. I bet ENB is packing and Fruit Sushi is not.

    1. Are we talking about guns or penises?

      1. Yes.

      2. Penises with guns.

    2. Which is weird because he’s at greater risk for sexual assault than most women.

  5. Female Gun Ownership Up While Number of Men Who Own At Least One Gun Down

    Perhaps the headline might read: Number of Men Willing to Admit Gun Ownership to Pollsters Has Gone Down

    1. I can’t think of a single male that I know personally who is a former gun owner.

      Its not like I grill people about it, but I’ve just never run into anyone that I know has gotten rid of all their guns.

      I’m thinking I’m probably done big game hunting (my hearing just can’t take rifle shots any more; even when I double glove my remaining ear at the range with plugs and muffs, I still get tinnitus which doesn’t necessarily fade). If I do, I’l l sell my hunting rifles (man, I will miss that accurized .300 Win Mag) because they deserve to go hunting, even when I’ve stopped. But even in that worst case scenario, I’ll still have guns.

      1. I know at least one, RC.

        I myself had a very nice collection that were all tragically lost in a horrible canoe accident. I just haven’t been able to report find the money to replace them yet…

  6. This is my rifle
    This is my gun…

    1. Private Humungus, you are born-again hard! Hell, I might even let you serve as a rifleman in my beloved Corps!

  7. Lead study author and Harvard School of Public Health researcher Deborah Azrael told the paper that American gun ownership is driven by “increasing fearfulness awesomeness.”

    FTFY

    1. Lead study author and Harvard School of Public Health researcher Deborah Azrael should’ve told the paper that American gun ownership is driven by “increasing fearfulness awesomeness.” Joe Biden.

    1. Illegal in California, you monster.

  8. Slightly less than a third of US men own a gun? Bullshit. They need to run a study on what percentage of men are habitual liars, particularly when answering pollsters about items they’re concerned may become illegal.

  9. “The study, conducted in 2015 by Harvard and Northeastern University researchers and released to British newspaper The Guardian”

    In other words, the study is a blatant lie.

    1. Every time we had to take a drugs survey in school, we made things up? I’m sure there’s some of that going on here.

  10. It’s hard to be quite clear what to make of some of these without seeing the actual study, which was released exclusively to the Guardian, but you can find a few more details here.

    Wait. What?

  11. I definitely don’t discuss guns with anyone really. My wife and brother, I guess.

    Mostly, I just don’t like the inevitable, constant pontification the discussion invites.

    1. Mostly, I just don’t like the inevitable, constant pontification the discussion invites.

      I’ll bet you own a Mossberg 835, don’t ya? Sit down here for a few hours and let me explain to you all 435 reasons I got for why you’re an idiot for buying that piece of crap and why the Remington 870 is far superior.

      1. Yeah, we can be tedious, I know.

  12. I’ve never paid any attention to the statistics but I would have guessed over half of all guns in the US are handguns. But this is “reported” and I would guess there’s a hell of a lot more unreported handguns floating around out there than there are long guns. (And I’m not just talking about the drop guns the cops carry.) If you’ve got an illegal gun, I’ll bet it’s a cheap handgun and you aren’t telling any nosy researcher about it.

    1. Actually, your carry gun SHOULD be as cheap as you can get away with, because if you ever have to use it you’re not getting it back from the cops.

      1. Bullshit. It should be as reliable as possible while still meeting your other needs. Price is the last consideration. obviously you need to be able to afford the thing, but a self-preservation tool seems a foolish place to let lower dollars be a deciding factor, especially given the VERY low chance it will wind up in evidence.

      2. If I ever have to use it, my first question will be “Are there any surviving witnesses?” If not, I will seriously consider ditching the gun where it can never be found (sadly, I already have a couple of spots picked out) and going home. Who needs the paperwork?

    2. Note that “unreported” here means only “not telling some stranger running a poll about it”.

      Whole lot of completely legal guns on that list.

      This is America, after all, where in all our free states (most of them) there is no such thing as gun registration, and it’s none of the government’s goddamn business what or how many guns we own.

  13. I wonder if there is a way to get a more accurate number of how many people own guns?

    Data mine the FBI’s background check system?

    1. They’re not allowed to keep records of who had a NICS check run against them, precisely to prevent a backdoor registration/ownership database.

      (“Per Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 25.9(b)(1), (2), and (3), the NICS Section must destroy all identifying information on allowed transactions prior to the start of the next NICS operational day.”, from the FBI’s own site on the topic.)

      Whether or not they do so anyway – ignoring the CFR – is another matter, but I’ve never heard more than “obviously they must because FBI” as evidence for it.

      1. They aren’t supposed to keep permanent records, but they are routinely caught breaking that law.

    2. You can’t really get more than a rough idea of how many people are buying guns from NICS for various reasons. Most notably:

      1. Only one check is run regardless of how many guns you buy at the same time.
      2. People with concealed carry permits issued by the state where they’re buying are exempt from NICS.

  14. I bet if the NRA or GOA ran the exact same survey, they’d get far more gun owners, between gun owners being more open about owning them and gun controllers yelling at the surveyor and slamming down the phone.

  15. So apparently “super-owners” have eight or more guns. I need to have a discussion with my wife about a couple of pieces I’ve had my eye on. I’m no longer content just to be an owner.

    1. Jeebus. In Texas, you’re not considered a “super-owner” unless you have a walk-in gun storage facility, filled to the rafters.

  16. My isn’t particularly a gun person and I only have a .270 for hunting deer. About 6 months after moving from Texas to California she mentioned that she regretted not buying a hand gun before moving. Not due to fear but due to the erosion of rights in California.

    I was dumbfounded when I heard this. She’s turning into a good little libertarian.

    1. s/My isn’t/My wife isn’t/

  17. Female Gun Ownership Up in America, While Male Gun Ownership Continues to Shrink

    ITS COLD!

  18. I didn’t read the article. Is it just a bunch of euphemisms about Karlin Jenner?

  19. Sounds to me like they came up with numbers and talking points to those stories and released those right away.

    But its still going to take until 2017 for them to completely fake all of the study’s data….

  20. Way to spin it, Elizabeth!

    (Cue dialogue from “Bad Teacher”) Superintendent: “This is BAD, Elizabeth!” Amy Squirrel: “Yes, VERY BAD, Elizabeth!”

    See? The superintendent and Amy Squirrel both think it’s bad. Who am I to argue….?

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