According to a new study by Pew Research Center, male and female gun owners in the United States vary drastically. Here are the main points Pew talks about:

  1. Women who own guns tend to become gun owners at a later age than men.

  2. Women are more likely than men to cite protection – rather than recreation – as the only reason they own a gun.

  3. Women who own guns are less likely than their male counterparts to say they go sport shooting or hunting, though substantial shares of women do so.

  4. Female gun owners are less likely than male gun owners to say they watch TV programs or videos about guns and to say they visit websites about guns, hunting or shooting sports.

  5. Male gun owners are more likely than female gun owners to say there is a gun that is both loaded and easily accessible to them all of the time when they’re at home.

  6. Men and women who own guns are similar when it comes to how they see gun ownership.  Majorities of both groups of gun owners consider the right to own guns to be essential to their personal sense of freedom, and somewhat similar shares say being a gun owner is very or somewhat important to their overall identity.

  7. Among Republican and Republican-leaning gun owners, women tend to be more supportive than men of policy proposals that would restrict gun ownership.

While many gun control advocates will use the study to say women are uncomfortable having firearms around them or in their homes, there’s one big takeaway that I, as a female gun owner, take away from this study: the gun industry, as a whole, needs to continue to encourage women to be a part of the gun community. We can do this by:

  • Encouraging women to learn about firearms and how to properly use a loaded gun.
    The biggest challenge women have when they’re interested in learning more about firearms is the fear factor. We’re afraid of asking the wrong question and looking stupid. We’re afraid of doing/saying the wrong thing, which could really hurt someone. Ease that fear by being patient, understanding and open!
  • Answering questions a woman has without being disrespectful and degrading.
    I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked a question and have received rude responses from gun store owners and employees. Answering questions without a snark or a “duh, you should know this” type of attitude can really make a difference in encouraging women to be a part of the firearms community. Be patient and answer the question openly, honestly and without being condescending.
  • Teaching women about all aspects of firearms, including how they function and the different types of guns and ammo.
    Everyone has to start somewhere! We should be enthusiastic we have another Second Amendment supporter on our side! Let’s help our community grow by educating others. Think of those who took you under your wing and taught you about firearms. Where would your firearms skills be without them?
  • Planning women only classes that are taught by female instructors.
    This allows women to ask questions that are more pertinent to them, like how to rack a slide when they don’t have the same forearm muscle strength as a man or how to properly shoot a rifle without digging into cleavage (trust me, it’s a very real problem). Having someone who understands the struggle can put a new shooter at ease and they could receive helpful pointers.
  • Encouraging women to join the shooting sports.
    Most women assume that the shooting sports are for men only. I have a friend who does competition shooting and she can beat out men in time and accuracy. We need more women who aren’t afraid to be the only female up to bat in shooting competitions.

At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to make sure new shooters know the basics of owning a firearm, including the four rules for gun safety, but we also have the responsibility to make sure we’re being warm and welcoming and doing everything in our power to educate.