Women and racial minorities have led a surge in first-time firearm ownership in America.
Gun owners are looking less and less like the liberal stereotype every day.
After decades when the typical gun owner was a white man, 2019-2021 saw a jump in previously underrepresented groups.
From 1980-2014 around one in ten women (9%-14%) owned a gun, representing a quarter of all gun owners in the U.S., but in 2020-21 they made up nearly half of first-time gun buyers, and by June 2021 a total 22% of women reported owning a gun.
- In 2013 just one in 14 gun owners was African American, but gun purchases jumped 58% from 2019-2020, and in 2020-21 they represented 21% of first-time buyers.
- Hispanics represented just 6% of gun owners in 2013, but gun purchases increased 49% from 2019-2020, and in 2020-21 they made up 19% of first-time buyers.
- Although rapid population growth makes long-term comparisons difficult, the proportion of Asian Americans among all gun buyers almost doubled from 3.8% in 2020 to 6.8% in 2021.
BEHIND THE TREND
Press accounts have suggested that safety concerns resulting from a spike in violent crime, including racist hate crimes, are one of the main drivers of increased gun ownership among these groups.
- In March 2022 a Gallup poll found 58% of women said they were very worried about crime and violence, compared to 48% of men.
- In April 77% of African Americans told Pew they believe violent crime is a major problem versus half of whites, and in May 75% of African Americans worried they or someone they care about would be targeted in a violent racist attack, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll.
- Gun violence and crime was the top concern of Hispanics in an Ipsos-Axios poll in June, ahead of inflation and immigration.
- According to a Pew survey in April 63% of Asian Americans said they believe violence against their group is increasing.
After decades when gun control advocates have trafficked in stereotypes of backwards white men, the new multiracial profile of gun owners has triggered liberal confusion and anxiety, while gun rights groups set out the welcome mats.
- Anecdotal evidence indicates the biggest increases in gun ownership are among African American women.
- Women make up most of the membership of the 40,000-strong National African American Gun Association, founded in 2015.
- NAAGA positions itself as a pro-Second Amendment group devoted to self-defense, carrying on traditions of military and law enforcement service and in response to racist denial of gun rights during slavery and Jim Crow, with historic references to African American gun advocates including Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.
Embracing the Second Amendment doesn’t automatically make new gun owners conservatives.
- Around 20% of gun owners identified themselves as liberal, over a third described themselves as moderate, and around 45% described themselves as conservative in surveys from 2014-2018.
- Anecdotal evidence from across the country suggests more liberals may be buying guns, even as Congressional Democrats push for more gun control.