What The Gun Industry Thinks Women Want

CREDIT: KIRA LERNER
CREDIT: KIRA LERNER

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Across the exhibit hall with “seven acres of guns and gear” at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Louisville this weekend, the gun industry’s attempts to market to women were not hard to spot. Just look for the pink.

Pink rifles. Pink magazines. Pink t-shirts declaring “Girls just wanna have guns” and “Shoot like a girl.”

Pink shirts declared “I’m smoking hot” and “High caliber girl.”
Pink shirts declared “I’m smoking hot” and “High caliber girl.”

The powerful gun lobby has spent years trying to increase gun sales by attempting to convince women that owning a firearm will keep them and their families safe. And some women are buying the message — 56 percent of female gun owners believe that having a gun makes the home a safer place, according to a recent Marie Claire survey.

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“They’re opening up a lot for women to show, ‘hey, this isn’t only a guy thing anymore,’” Mirna Rios, a Hammond, Indiana resident and NRA member, told ThinkProgress as she wandered the exhibit hall with her husband and daughter. “It’s time for women to be part of it… I want to be able to protect me and mine.”

But the evidence does not support the NRA’s claim. Studies show that owning a gun puts women at significantly greater risk of violent injury and death. Women who were victims of crimes used guns to defend themselves just 0.4 percent of the time, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Ciara Palermo, 12, shopped for pink firearm cases for her automatic weapon.
Ciara Palermo, 12, shopped for pink firearm cases for her automatic weapon.

In order to keep driving profits, the NRA likes to claim that women are the fasting growing group of gun owners in the United States. But that claim has been disproven — according to the Marie Claire and Harvard Injury Control Research Center survey, 12 percent of American women own guns, a number that’s consistent with previous ownership rates.

“Not only are guns rate not up, they’re stagnant or down among women,” Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told ThinkProgress. “They want people to think women are buying guns because they want women to buy guns.”

“Dressed to kill in her sexy pink and hi-polish frame, this Chic Lady is ready for the spotlight.”
“Dressed to kill in her sexy pink and hi-polish frame, this Chic Lady is ready for the spotlight.”

But gun manufacturers and the NRA have not put much thought into their appeals to women. Many of their products are marketed using sexist stereotypes, calling women “smoking hot” and handguns “sexy” and “sleek.”

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“I’m convinced that there are absolutely no women on the NRA’s marketing team,” Watts joked. “They simultaneously objectify and degrade women and yet also want them to be customers. Those two things don’t go together.”

Here are more examples of the gun industry’s attempts to appeal to women:

“My guns will never be illegal. Just undocumented.”
“My guns will never be illegal. Just undocumented.”
Packin’ Neat sells holsters for women to turn their purses into concealed carry holsters.
Packin’ Neat sells holsters for women to turn their purses into concealed carry holsters.
“My shade of ammunition.”
“My shade of ammunition.”
His and hers assault weapons.
His and hers assault weapons.
“A lady with a gun has more fun!”
“A lady with a gun has more fun!”