Women And Guns: Groundbreaking Survey Reveals What Women Think And Feel About Guns

Woman pointing a gun at the target on dark background, selective focus on front gun
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Last week, Marie Claire published an in-depth, eye-opening series on women and guns. The series consists of ten stories that delve deeply into women’s attitudes towards guns, the increase of female gang members, the politics and NRA, the victims of gun violence, access, sport, ownership and more.

The data presented throughout the series comes from two extensive surveys conducted in collaboration with the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. More than 5,000 adults from across the United States were polled, and the results “illuminate a nuanced landscape for women and guns.”

Traditionally, surveys about gun ownership are done by household, so if one person in a home owns a gun, their responses speak for the entire household. Because gun owners are predominantly men the prevailing opinions in previous surveys are reflective of that. What makes this report unprecedented, is that it surveyed individuals, and includes the direct opinions of women.

Here are a few of the findings:

While 32 percent of women live in a household with a gun only 12 percent of American women own a gun. 33 percent of American men own a gun. 

More women than men support gun control. Yet a large number of women feel strongly about the Second Amendment. In fact, 63 percent of women “want gun laws to be a major topic in the coming presidential debates.”

62 percent of women say laws governing gun sales should be stricter. 29 percent think the laws are fine as they are, and 8 percent say they should be less strict.

74 percent of women believe that men and women have different mindsets about guns. Many of the women polled attribute this difference to men being exposed and made more comfortable with guns from an early age, whether through toys or hunting.

77 percent of gun-owning women said protection against strangers was a main reason they have a handgun.

The survey shows that it is rare for a woman to be threatened with a gun—just 1 percent of women report having been threatened with a gun in the last five years. Even fewer women—less than one percent—report having used a gun in self-defense in the last five years.

Terrorist attacks and school shootings have had a greater negative impact on women’s feelings about guns than men’s. 49 percent of women report more negative feelings about guns, while only 33 percent of men do.

In the last five years women have…

become more interested in owning a gun 18%

become less interested in owning a gun 18%

shot a gun for any reason 17%

gone shooting at a shooting range 13%

attended a gun show or expo 5%

given or received a gun as a gift 5%

gone hunting with a gun 4%

gotten a gun for the first time 4%

witnessed gun violence or the threat of it in person 4%

obtained one or more guns in addition to those they already owned 3%

lobbied for gun rights 2%

To see Marie Claire’s full report on women and guns, click here.