First-time female gun ownership on the rise due to mass shootings

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 11:22 AM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Gun ownership in the United States is rising, according to news outlets like NBC and CNN. Guns are important to many North Dakotans who are hobbyists or hunters. But now, some residents say their reason for owning a gun has shifted.

The United States is ranked number one globally when it comes to gun ownership, according to World Population Review. Estimates show there are anywhere from 200 million to more than 350 million guns in the U.S. While gun ownership is most common among men, Pew Research Center reports the number of first-time buyers is on the rise. One-third of those first-timers are now women, according to CBS. In fact, it says there’s been a 77% increase in female gun ownership from 2005 to 2020, and those numbers keep rising. The reason why? Women say they don’t want to be a victim.

Brandon Charvat owns Mandan Sporting Goods. He’s worked in the gun industry for years, and recently has seen an increase in first-time female gun buyers.

“We have women customers, you know, on a regular basis. But I’ve seen it go up a little bit since the pandemic and all the shootings that have been going on,” said Charvat.

But the question is why?

“While they’re shopping around have they mentioned to you why they might be buying a gun?” questioned KFYR-TV News Reporter Emmeline Ivy.

“A lot of them don’t unless I ask, and I don’t want to get too private in asking questions like that,” said Charvat.

So, Reporter Emmeline Ivy set out on finding the reason. She got in contact with two of his most recent female gun buyers.

“I don’t want to be a victim,” said anonymous woman one.

“Yes, absolutely. I don’t want to be a victim,” said anonymous woman two.

The women Your News Leader spoke with wanted to stay anonymous for their safety and privacy.

They’ve been friends for about 35 years and have both owned guns for about that amount of time. Both also agreed the reason they’ve purchased guns has changed over the years. Once for sport, now for protection.

“Back then, it was not so much for protection,” said anonymous woman one.

“It started out hunting also,” said anonymous woman two.

“Then, it got to be where it was for protection because of the people that have disrespect for other people’s lives,” said anonymous woman one.

There have been more than 200 mass shootings across the U.S. so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That’s a driving factor in the reason why these ladies chose to buy their newest gun.

“Being a female gun owner, if you’re in a busy restaurant and someone comes in and starts shooting the place up — if you have a gun with you, at least you’ve got a chance,” said anonymous woman two.

Beth Warford has been working in self-defense since she was almost assaulted on the street. She says the women’s concerns are matched by many.

“I think they’re scared now because you can tell that crime has increased. The cost of food is going to drive crime really high. The fact that we’re kind of in a recession. I think all of those things increase crime, and people get desperate,” said Warford.

Warford now provides training to help protect yourself without a gun as an alternative. She founded Pretty Loaded Safety Training as a way to teach people to protect themselves without the use of a gun. For more information, visit her website.

As the nation grapples with the complex issue of gun violence, the rise of female first-time gun owners serves as a strong reflection of the fear many women feel and points to gun ownership as the step they’re taking to protect themselves.