Surge in Female and Minority Gun Ownership Calls for Advanced Modern Technology

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Gun rights activist Lucretia Hughes spoke in front of lawmakers earlier this month about her experience losing her 19-year old son to gun violence perpetrated by a convicted offender who used an illegally obtained gun.1 With the second amendment currently under attack, Hughes is adamant that tighter gun laws are not the answer. Instead, Hughes, a 48-year old African American female, says that guns are essential as a mechanism for protection and self-defense, and uses her testimony to bring together women of all ages and races to learn about guns and receive proper training.

 

And she is far from the only one. The face of the gun industry is changing. Not just with the changes that have taken place with the guns themselves, but also the face of what the typical gun owner looks like, and the reasons these individuals are purchasing guns. Women now make up 42% of gun owners in the U.S. according to a recent study from Harvard University. Over the last five years there has been a 14% increase in the number of women who are first-time gun owners, with 3.5 million women joining the ranks between January 2019 and April 2021.2

 

This data coincides with recent reports of an uptick in violence against women worldwide, and growth of all-female shooting organizations such as A Girl and a Gun and the Women DC Project Women for Gun Rights (both of which Hughes has been involved with). There also appears to be a trend of growing numbers of people of color buying guns. In 2020, the number of gun purchases by African Americans increased 56% from what it was the year prior, according to research by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.3 The National African American Gun Association continues to grow, with over 40,000 members currently. A majority of the members of this organization, which has chapters nationwide, is female.4

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Black Females: A Growing Segment of the Gun Owner Population

 

This information points to a trend indicative of one of the potentially fastest-growing segments of gun owners in America: black females. American gun manufacturer Adams Arms says their consumer sales numbers support these reports of a growing number of female gun owners, and in particular, black female gun owners.

 

Hughes says she has a black police officer, Sheriff Jones of Barrow County, Georgia, to thank for insisting she arm herself when he noticed her door-knocking for Congressional candidates in her neighborhood by herself. “he said ‘where’s your gun,’ I said ‘I have a gun in the house,’ he said ‘where’s your gun at right now,’ he said ‘look around you, I’m the only cop within ten min of getting here to save your life.” “You will be dead before I even rescue you,” the sheriff told Hughes regarding her lack of personal protection.

 

A recent article from The Cut in February 2022 referenced results from a 2021 national firearms survey conducted by Deborah Azrael, a public health researcher at Harvard University. Of those surveyed, Azrael found that 10% of gun owners were black and 37% were women. But within the segment of survey participants who reported becoming first time gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021, some 21 percent were black and 48 percent were women. Though Azrael notes that the survey was limited by its small sample size, the data is still illustrious of more diversity in the population of gun owners.4

 

The above-mentioned article also documented the history of firearms as protection for the black community during times of slavery; a protection they were denied by the government. Being armed is also the sole reason many black people escaped lynchings in years past.4 An article last year from the Pennsylvania Capital-Start pointed out that Harriet Tubman was armed with a pistol during her missions to rescue slaves, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was denied a gun permit he applied for after his house was bombed.5 “It’s history,” says Hughes, who believes that all races have faced peril from gun control measures

 

Asian Americans, who experienced violence recently in their communities, such as the Hair World Salon shooting that just occurred on May 11 in Dallas,6 bought 42% more guns in the first half of 2020 than they did in the first half of 2019, and Hispanics saw a similar increase of 49%, according to the NSSF.7

 

Surging Female Gun Sales Reflect International Sentiment

 

This trend in female gun ownership mirrors a growing international sentiment. Since COVID, and events that followed such as fears that gun control measures that the Biden administration has announced intentions of will come to pass,8 the brutal killing of George Floyd, and the war in Ukraine, there has been an increasing desire for self-defense and protection. This has led to a surge in first-time gun buyers, many of which are women.

 

Police officers in Armenia are addressing violence against women and domestic by stepping up training to improve ability of their officers to properly apply international and European standards to provide an effective response and protection for these women.9 Images of pregnant women in Ukraine under unsafe conditions and being forced to flee conflict zones territory has led to discussions by the World Economic Forum on how women-led groups need to be front-and-center in responding to the needs of these women and children.10 There are also concerns over the increased violence that indigenous and Alaskan Women could face following the overturn of Roe v. Wade,11 and studies such as the one recently done by BMC Public Health indicate a link between low socioeconomic status and an increased risk for domestic violence among women and children in countries such as South Africa.12

 

Companies like Adams Arms have contributed to the movement to arm women overseas in Ukraine. With our nation in a state of deep division, women feel more compelled than ever to be fully prepared, since they are the first responders of the family and home. Adams Arms provide the technology that makes for a more effective weapon that lasts longer and is also easier to maintain. Adams Arms has had working relationships with gun distributors in Ukraine for several years, and these business partners called up on Adams Arms after gun distributors in Ukraine sold out rapidly following the Ukraine invasion. While Adams Arms is losing $300,000 selling their guns at a discount, they are honored to have the opportunity to assist with such an important worldwide effort.13

 

As a result of efforts such as these, there are armies of women rising up in Ukraine. At the end of March, the mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, which is a large city located in Western Ukraine, announced the reopening of the the shooting ranges at five schools to offer firearms courses principally designed for women. In response to reports of rape, torture and other war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, thousands of women have signed up for these courses.14

 

Educated Gun Enthusiasts Seek Modern Technology

 

Of course, owning the gun is just the beginning. The right education and training are critical to making the gun effective for women’s protection, self-defense, recreational use and whatever other use they intend for the weapon. “You need to name it you need to rub it down you need to get the size, the pressure the whole nine, it needs to become personal,” says Hughes regarding the process of choosing a gun for purchase. ”And that is when you start educating yourself to relax more and I’m telling you it’s a power surge,” Hughes explains.

 

According to a 2021 study from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, men spent more money on their guns and were more active shooters than women. This applies to both first-time male gun owners and gun owners that make subsequent gun purchases. The study showed that though women seem to have greater concerns about gun safety than men, they tend to seek out less training than men do, and they also depend on family and friends more for information and instruction. Men were more inclined to pay for professional training, according to the study.15

 

But in the article from The Cut, licensed gun trainer James Boykin, who has taught gun classes heavily populated by women, claims they are better shooters because there is less ego involved than as with men. He also references the more social aspect of shooting for women, that they are more likely to bring friends. Indeed, women learn differently, hence the need for women to train other women, and Hughes echoes this. “It’s just like [when] you go get three bottles of wine to let your hair down, be yourself, not worried about getting judged because you’re in that type of companionship and you feel closer to that person because it is a female,” says Hughes. “Y’all do have something in common, and then you start talking and next thing you know you might be closer than sisters,” says Hughes regarding the bond that is created in female gun organizations. And finding the right gun makes all the difference.16

 

In 2020, the NSSF, in partnership with Southwick Associates, also came out with an analysis of firearms consumer personas. They reported in this analysis that out of the entire firearms consumer market, 39% of this market is made up of female gun owners. Then, the NSSF broke down the different types of consumer personas that they concluded make up the market from their research, and the percentage of females in each group:

 

  • 28% of the market has an interest in gun ownership as a family guardian, with safety at and away-from-home as their primary motivator. 42% of this segment is now female.
  • 17% of the market desires to build shooting skills, and see firearms as a means to socialize with friends and family. 34% of this segment is now female.
  • 18% of the market are hunters, who primarily see firearms as a way to acquire and spend time with family and friends, with protection as a secondary motivator. 28% of this segment is now female.
  • Urban defenders, whose motivations to own and use a firearm usually stem from theirs and others’ bad experiences, comprises 14% of the market. 43% of this segment is now female.
  • The last group, prepared for the worst gun owners, are motivated by a desire to gain a sense of security and be ready to handle any dangerous situation, and they comprise 23% of the market. 44% of this segment is now female.17

 

But this is changing with the rise of women’s shooting organizations such as A Girl and a Gun. Hughes says that the feeling of empowerment and being in control is one of the biggest driving factors for women to purchase and train with guns. She also stresses the importance of the non-partisan nature of these types of organizations, with members from all different races, sexual orientations and walks of life “we don’t care, we just to make sure that u know ur rights, you’re educated on these rights,” says Hughes.

 

And one important factor that is necessary to making this happen is having the right equipment. According to Adams Arms President Jason East, “We typically see first-time gun owners begin with a handgun. Over the course of the training their skills and confidence level become transferable to a rifle. Our piston drive system is a favorite of the military and law enforcement – and civilians such as these women first time gun owners now see its merit. The rifle is cleaner, cooler and more reliable. In short, its operation is there when it counts the most, which helps women feel in control.”

East is referring to Adams Arms piston system rifle, which is a significant technological advancement in the world of AR-15 rifles. Here is the science behind the benefits of the piston drive functionality offered by the Adams Arms Retrofit gas piston system, versus the direct impingement system offered by many modern sporting rifles:

 

  • The hot gases go down the barrel, entering a piston chamber that mechanically drives a solid one-piece rod back, actuating the bolt carrier.
  • All of the hot gases are redirected forward out of the chamber and away from the operator and all critical moving parts in the firearm.
  • This eliminates fouling and carbon buildup in the receiver and extends the overall life of the rifle.

 

Having a firearm such as the Adams Arms piston system rifle, and other types of guns with advanced technology, will help female gun enthusiasts learn more effectively and feel more confident in their shooting ability and safety. “You’re not vulnerable, it’s like more self-reliance, more power and knowing you can kick ass and take names if necessary,” says Hughes regarding the feeling of power than comes from a woman when they find the right type of gun.

 

  • Schwartz, Ian. “Lucretia Hughes to Congress: ‘You Who Call For More Gun Control Are The Same Ones That Call To Defund The Police.’”RealClearPolitics,  8 June 2022. realclearpolitics.com/video/2022/06/08/lucretia_hughes_to_congress_you_who_call_or_more_gun_control_are_the_same_ones_that_ call_to_defund_the_police.html
  • Staff Writer. “The Second Amendment Wears Lipstick – Study Shows Gun Ownership Among Women on the Rise.” News 5 Cleveland, 15 December 2021. news5cleveland.com/news/national/two-americas/the-second-amendment-wears-lipstick-study-shows-gun-ownership-among-women-on-the-rise
  • “Gun Sales Reach Record Highs In 2020 Especially Among African Americans And First-Time Gun Buyers.” NSSF® The Firearm Industry Trade Association, 4 Feb. 2021, nssf.org/articles/gun-sales-reach-record-highs-in-2020-especially-among-african-americans-and-first-time-gun-buyers/
  • Aning, Agya K. “The New Face of American Gun Ownership: Black Women are Pushing Against the (White, Rural, and Male) Stereotype.” The Cut, 28 Feb. 2022. thecut.com/2022/02/rise-of-black-female-gun-owners.html
  • Special to the Capital-Star. “In a City Torn by Violence, Black Philadelphians are Buying Guns to Respond to Crime, Racism.” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, 21 Sept. 2022. penncapital-star.com/civil-rights-social-justice/in-a-city-torn-by-violence-black-philadelphians-are-buying-guns-to-respond-to-crime-racism/
  • Albee, Amanda. “Koreatown on Edge: Restaurants See Drop in Business, Boost Safety Plans after Salon Attack.” The Dallas Morning News, 24 May 2022. dallasnews.com/food/restaurant-news/2022/05/24/koreatown-on-edge-restaurants-see-drop-in-business-boost-safety-plans-after-salon-attack/
  • Kiszla, Cameron and Wynter, Kareen. “‘Times Have Changed’: Amid Pandemic and Crime, First-Time Gun Buyers are Often Women, People of Color.” KTLA, 16 May 2022. ktla.com/news/local-news/times-have-changed-amid-pandemic-and-crime-first-time-gun-buyers-are-often-women-people-of-color/
  • “The Biden Plan To End Our Gun Violence Epidemic.” Biden Harris Democrats, joebiden.com/gunsafety/
  • “Police officers of Armenia enhance their knowledge on combating violence against women and domestic violence.” Council of Europe, 20 May 2022. coe.int/en/web/genderequality/-/police-officers-of-armenia-enhance-their-knowledge-on-combating-violence-against-women-and-domestic-violence
  • Kanem, Dr. Katalia. “Why women’s rights must be at the heart of crisis response.” World Economic Forum, 24 May 2022. weforum.org/agenda/2022/05/womens-rights-crisis-conflict-peacebuilding/
  • Golden, Hallie. “Indigenous and Alaska Native women could face escalated violence if Roe is repealed.” The Guardian, 19 May 2022. theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/19/roe-v-wade-indigenous-women-increase-violence
  • Mahlangu, P., et al. “Impact of COVID-19 lockdown and link to women and children’s experiences of violence in the home in South Africa.” BMC Public Health, 21 May 2022, Accessed 28 June 2022. bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-022-13422-3
  • Elliott, Caroline. “American gun manufacturer sending thousands of AR-15s to Ukraine.” Fox Business, 4 Apr. 2022. foxbusiness.com/small-business/american-gun-manufacturer-ar-15s-ukraine
  • Cundy, Antonia. “‘Women need to be ready’: the Ukrainian city where mums and daughters are learning to shoot.” The Guardian, 25 Apr. 2022. theguardian.com/global-development/2022/apr/25/women-need-to-be-ready-the-ukrainian-city-where-mums-and-daughters-are-learning-to-shoot
  • “NSSF Report 2021 Edition First Time Gun Buyers: A Study of Consumers that Purchased Their First Firearm in 2019/2020.” National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc., 2021, Accessed June 28 2022. acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:2a53c11b-a0cc-3c9a-8a2a-c8ce83170409
  • Aning, Agya K. “The New Face of American Gun Ownership: Black Women are Pushing Against the (White, Rural, and Male) Stereotype.” The Cut, 28 Feb. 2022. thecut.com/2022/02/rise-of-black-female-gun-owners.html
  • “2021 Firearms Consumer Personas.” National Shooting Sports Foundation and Southwick Associates, 2021, Accessed June 28 2022. acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:62b080d5-d31a-3510-86bc-4690300a6270
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