More Women Are Becoming Gun Owners for Personal Protection

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The year 2020 – and the pandemic it wrought – was a bellwether for a movement already gaining steam: More women were, and still are, now, taking matters of self defense more seriously. Beside taking classes on hand-to-hand combat and carrying pepper spray, women are turning to gun ownership more than ever before.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, gun sales reached record highs in 2020 – the FBI processed more background checks for gun purchases than any year on record prior – and nearly half of those sales went to women.

But this phenomenon wasn’t stoked by the tribulations and uncertainty of the COVID 19 pandemic. Nearly half of all gun sales had gone to women the year prior: In 2019, the figure was around 40% and, as early as 2017, the number of women purchasing guns for personal protection increased substantially.

That last bit – the declaration of protection being the motive to buy a gun – is a sentiment shared by far more female gun owners than male gun owners. According to Pew Research, self defense is the only reason 27% of women say they own a gun, compared to just 8% of men (who cite other reasons, like collecting and sport, for ownership).

For women, the decision to head to a sporting goods outlet, fill out paperwork, and lay their hands on the grip of a handgun, shotgun, or rifle isn’t just a fleeting decision. At least 43% of women gun owners say they regularly attend a shooting range to hone their markswomanship skills.

Contributing to the increasing percentage of women attending shooting ranges is a new type of self-defense class: Woman-only shooting instruction courses are cropping up across the country, inviting women to learn to shoot more effectively and, as importantly, teaching the fundamentals of effective concealed carry, and when it is appropriate to use lethal force against a threat.

Carmen Santana, a single mother from Texas, has been practicing her shooting skills at Mission Ridge Shooting Range and Academy, just outside San Antonio. “[Learning to shoot] was more toward protection than anything,” said Santana. “I have two little ones at home. Learning the proper way to handle it, the proper way to hold it,” she said, citing her reasons for starting the course six months ago.

Corey Molinelli, one of the instructors at Mission Ridge, says, “We have seen this rise in new gun ownership in women but also those who seek professional level training.” We’ve covered the reasons a woman may want to invest in firearm ownership. But how does one get started?

First, you need to decide what type firearm is best. If you’re interested in carrying a gun concealed while you travel, you’ll need to select a reliable, easy-to-carry handgun. Although revolvers are simple, their designs are outdated, and they lack ammo capacity. In other words, you’ll want to look at semiautomatic handguns.

The modern GLOCK handgun is inarguably the most popular, dependable, and easy-to-use handgun, ideal for experienced shooters and new gun owners alike. A GLOCK 17 or GLOCK 19 – both high-capacity models chambered in 9mm – provide good accuracy with modest recoil.

Also unique to the GLOCK platform is its ability to accept handgun optics that dramatically improve ease of targeting and overall accuracy – a particularly important feature for new shooters and those who expect to carry for personal protection. Buying an aftermarket GLOCK 17 slide (or GLOCK 19 slide) for your new pistol will allow you to install a pistol red dot with a wide viewing window and high-contract reticle.

If you’re interested in home defense, a long gun may be a better investment. Contrary to popular belief, a shotgun is not the ideal home-defense weapon. It can increase the risk of collateral damage, and it has a lower magazine capacity than a rifle.

A semiautomatic rifle with a high magazine capacity – 20 rounds or more – with low recoil is the best choice. The typical AR-15 fits this descriptor neatly: It’s a lightweight, easy-to-control rifle that, despite some political narratives claiming otherwise, is a firearm that doesn’t suffer for excess power or recoil. Its rounds are fast and light, and generally suffer lower risk of collateral damage than other, larger rifles. Many owners choose to buy AR15 kits to customize their rifles for personal protection and home defense.

Investing in a custom build configuration allows you to better configure your rifle for its intended use, while also helping you to familiarize yourself with its functionality, teaching you how to strip the rifle and perform maintenance in between range sessions.

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