Almost half of all new gun buyers in the U.S. since 2019 have been women, according to the preliminary results of a new study.
The 2021 National Firearms Survey from Northeastern University finds that an estimated 3.5 million women became new gun owners from January 2019 through April 2021. Nearly 4 million men became new gun owners as well, for a total of 7.5 million new gun owners.
Previous surveys have found that only 10% to 20% of American gun owners were women, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The survey polled more than 19,000 adults, which according to study author Dr. Deborah Azrael makes it “one of the largest, nationally representative, population-based surveys about gun purchasing ever conducted.”
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In addition to its findings on gender, the survey found that new gun buyers were more racially diverse than existing owners who bought more. Among new gun buyers, 55% were white, 21% were Black and 19% were Hispanic. Among new women gun owners, 28% wereBlack. The 19.6 million existing gun owners who bought more firearms since 2019 were 71% male and 74% white.
The increase in women purchasing firearms follows a change in marketing strategy by the firearms industry, the Journal reports. Previously, gun manufacturers attempted to “shrink it and pink it” — make handguns smaller and brightly colored — in order to appeal to women. But that strategy proved largely unsuccessful. In a change, handguns are now designed to be easier for people with small hands to wield.
Additionally, companies have largely stopped using sexualized marketing campaigns, which appeal mostly to men.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the number of federal background checks for gun purchases reached an all-time high of 21 million in 2020. Retailer surveys from that year indicated that 40 percent of gun sales went to those purchasing their first firearm, totalling 8.4 million people.
Another survey released last week found that more than 3.2 million Americans bought their first gun in the first half of 2021. This survey noted that more than 90% of firearms retailers reported an increase of black men purchasing firearms, nearly 84% reported an increase of hispanic Americans buying guns, and over 76.5% said more Asian Americans purchased firearms as well.
The Pew Research Center has noticed similar trends. A Pew survey conducted in June 2021 found that four-in-ten U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun. Personal protection is consistently the number one reason for gun ownership given by Americans surveyed.