Millennial Women Keep Buying Guns
Russ Chastain 09.08.17
A recent article at the women’s website Bustle looks at the fact that more and more women, including “millennial” women, are buying guns these days. It is approached as some kind of mystery, asking questions like, “So why do some of the women in a young, relatively liberal generation feel invested in the idea of gun ownership?”
To begin with, I consider this question flawed because it assumes liberalness in the millennial generation, whereas I see them as more libertarian in thought. Not always, of course, but much moreso than their parents and grandparents, who tend to rely on and trust government power and authority, while younger folks have seen what the government does and view it with a healthy skepticism.
At any rate, the fact is that women are arming themselves. In asking why, Bustle explored family traditions as well as practical reasons for owning a gun and learning how to use it well:
Millennial women interviewed by Bustle tended to have grown up with guns. ‘I’ve grown up shooting firearms both recreationally and for hunting, my entire life,’ Taylor Giardina, who currents resides in Texas, tells Bustle. ‘My family always did this together as a family activity, and I was taught a lot about gun safety and ownership rights at a young age.'[
Shea Drake from Salt Lake City tells Bustle, ‘I grew up in a hunting family, and while I haven’t gone hunting in about 10 years, I still target shoot fairly regularly.’ But it’s not just about culture; it’s about security.
Drake, who owns three guns (a 22 pistol, a 22 rifle, and a 20 gauge shotgun), says, ‘I am lucky that, so far, I haven’t had to use my guns for self-defense. But, I am glad that I know what to do if such a situation were to arise thanks to regular target practice. There is a sense of security in having a gun in my home, and knowing how to use it.’
That feeling of empowerment was echoed by Giardina. ‘Though I have not had to use [a gun] for self defense, I am happy to know I have one,’ she says. ‘When I moved out on my own in college, I never worried about lack of a security system because I know how to use a firearm. It was a very empowering experience to know I can protect myself.’
I have a “millennial” niece who was concerned that she couldn’t legally carry a handgun when she went off to college. But her protective uncle loaned her a 357 revolver and made sure she knew how to use it before she went away to live on her own. And it wasn’t until she had purchased her own handgun that she returned the revolver; common sense goes a long way in preventing women from being victims.
A lot of women’s gun ownership across the United States is based around defense, if the Pew research is to be believed. 27 percent of women say defense is the only reason they own a gun at all, rather than for sport-shooting or target training. Nearly a quarter of Americans who own only handguns are women in urban areas. Founder of the She Can Shoot shooting league Tina Wilson-Cohen told the New York Times in 2013 that 90 percent of the women who joined the organization were motivated by the fact that ‘they’ve been a victim at one point of their life, of stalking or date rape or domestic violence, or they have just felt so vulnerable, and they want to feel competent and like they can protect themselves.’
All this said, though, millennials apparently own fewer guns than other generations:
Millennial gun ownership is lower than other age groups. A Pew study in 2014 found that only 26 percent of people in the 18-26 age bracket own guns. One reason for this, it seems, is expense: guns aren’t cheap, and neither is ammunition. But women make up a larger proportion of that number than you might think, and our perceptions of gun ownership as largely old and male seem to be based on outmoded ideas.
I have long supported women participating in gun ownership, hunting, and the shooting sports, and I’m pleased to see their share growing. Keep it up!
Everybody needs to know how to use a gun and be safe with them. Every. Single. Person.
Whether they choose to own and regularly use one is a personal decision, but knowing the basics is matter of safety and common sense.