Why Female Gun Ownership Is Skyrocketing

We’ve all heard it before: if you’re a woman, don’t walk home alone at night. Women, especially, have been told to defend themselves in practical and impractical ways. Put your keys between your fingers. Check under your car. Get a door jam or a dog if you live alone. Buy this pink glittery self-defense keychain. The list goes on, but those defenses aren’t always practical… or smart. When women come of age, it’s not terribly uncommon for them to at least consider their next option: arming themselves. 

Over the years, women from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences have decided to exercise their Second Amendment rights at a noticeably higher rate. Historically speaking, gun ownership has generally been seen as a more “masculine” hobby or practice, perpetuating stereotypes that women are passive, vulnerable, and need to be protected. As society evolves, so do the social norms and needs of each individual, and many women are finding firearms as a good resource to defend themselves for a variety of reasons. 

Domestic Violence 

Domestic violence remains a major issue among both married and unmarried households. More couples have started living together earlier due to rising housing costs, and social norms have also changed rapidly. It’s not uncommon for someone to get into a relationship either without noticing or seeing any early signs a partner may be an abuser, and that often leads to many abusers gaining power over their partner before revealing their true colors.

This can leave women feeling unsafe in their own homes without a safe way out. Or, when they do get out, they end up stalked and harassed to the point where they realize they’re still not safe. Domestic violence is not only dangerous, it can be lethal, and when leaving that type of relationship, statistics show the highest risk time is the timeframe immediately following the abused person moving out. So, when it comes to protecting themselves, many women make a safety plan. At times, this includes starting to carry a gun or at least learning about guns. With the prevalence of this issue, domestic violence is one of the leading causes of women starting to carry, even as a last line of defense.

Harsh Realities

Of course, deciding to arm oneself can happen while living with an abuser, trying to leave, or having already left. For many—if not most—women, the harsh reality for them is that even legal efforts don’t keep all abusers away even after leaving their previous living situation with them. Carrying a gun can be life-saving for themselves or their children. 

Statistically, women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it can be up to one in four women. However, it should be noted that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, and it can happen to both heterosexual and homosexual couples just the same. Due to its prevalence among women, it just happens to be one of the main reasons women decide to arm themselves. 

If you’re arming yourself, you should also be properly trained. It’s important for women to make sure they also take the classes necessary to become responsible, safe gun owners.

mother daughter with a rifle
My mom taught me how to use firearms from a young age, teaching me self-defense and gun safety. [Photo: Grace Stevens]

General Self Defense

Outside of relationships, women do face numerous threats on a daily basis. Women are often seen as easier targets for many attackers, which most women are more than aware of. No matter how vigilant or prepared one may be, the danger is unpredictable. You can’t choose the time you need a gun—the time chooses you, so it pays to be prepared.

Pepper spray can be a great option for those who don’t have or want access to firearms. However, there are many times when pepper spray may not be enough when a threat arises. In a society with a largely high crime rate, firearms have emerged as a useful tool to use as an equalizer against attackers that may be bigger or stronger. 

Many women are more independent than ever, but that can leave them alone in potentially dangerous situations. Many women decide to arm themselves for specific times, like their commute home, time at work, or home defense, and some newer firearm owners are also aware that a firearm can be a decent deterrent, giving them a sense of security by having it nearby. 

woman with rifle
Firearms can make women feel safer and more confident. [Photo: Kat Stevens]


Women, speaking as one, are stereotypically told that they are frail and vulnerable in society. They’re also told to be polite, no matter what. Though it may not be true, this concept of weakness is at times a subconscious belief. It’s not that uncommon to run into people with this opinion, either. 

Deciding to carry a firearm can give women a sense of confidence and self-reliance. Carrying one as-is can feel great, but learning how to be proficient with one is far better. Women are one of the largest demographics of people taking concealed carry and pistol classes, and that’s a trend I hope to see continue. 

Just like any tool, being confident in your skill makes you feel much more secure using it than if you were not. Being able to say that you’re a good shot is a great feeling; it takes skill, time, and practice. Many take up shooting as a sport or hobby, especially because of its relevance to their daily lives. 


rifle closeup
Firearms are great tools for women to use. [Photo: Grace Stevens]
Over the years, legislative changes have led to easier access and carrying of firearms in many states, although some have gotten more restrictive. You will be required to pass a background check to purchase the firearm at the dealer, but with permitless carry in over half the country now, you won’t necessarily have to get a carry permit to carry it for self-defense. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get training (you should). Whether it’s for a particular reason or just a life decision, more women than ever are getting into firearms. 

More options are available on the market as well, giving plenty of options for different hand sizes, grip strengths, and needs. Many pistols have been designed with men or shooters with greater hand strength in mind rather than women, but in recent years, manufacturers have started to keep women in mind as their customer base grows and changes. Some pistols are even designed specifically for women, while others have been reviewed by experienced women and recommended to others (and no, I’m not talking about a pink revolver). 

Breaking Barriers

The gun industry has always been male-dominated, but the number of women in the industry has been on the rise over the past decade. There has been a major societal shift in male-dominated industries in general as driven women break barriers and make waves. From manufacturers to firearm instructors to writers, many women have made huge impacts in the gun industry, leading to progressive changes. There are even gun groups dedicated to involving and educating women, making it easier than ever to learn about safe gun ownership.

Some women also feel more comfortable approaching what can be a daunting decision if another woman is involved. Though anyone can be a great gun store owner, firearm instructor, or range manager, it can be reassuring to new female gun owners to have help. Going into a male-dominated store or class can be daunting for any young woman, just as it can be just as uncomfortable for a man going into a woman-dominated space. Young women around the world have started to feel more comfortable reaching out for help because of the more diverse leaders in the field. There’s even plenty of content and resources directed towards women looking to arm themselves.


Guns are valuable tools that deserve respect, requiring safe use and education. Whether it be due to safety issues or simply wanting a better line of defense, more women have started to defend themselves than ever. Just make sure to go through the proper channels, seek proper gun safety training, and stay safe.

Grace Ainsworth Stevens is an outdoor writer and political cartoonist who writes for a number of industry publications including The Truth About Guns and Breach Bang Clear. She's been hunting everything from deer to feral hogs since grade school and started honing her handgun skills at the age of 13. Grace's art is Second Amendment focused and speaks to current events and gun world cliches. She's also a college sophomore and will fight you over robotics and early education issues.

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