A lot’s been written in recent months about the October, 2011 GALLUP poll, which indicates the level of firearm ownership in the United States is approaching a near two decade high. With 47% of Americans now answering “yes” to the question “do you have a gun in your household, or elsewhere on your property?” it’s clear that what’s trending is . . . guns.
While this is good news for those of us who are passionate about the Second Amendment, the same poll provides insight into another appealing trend. Firearms ownership among women has risen dramatically over the last seven years. 23% of American women now say they personally own a firearm, up a full ten percentage points since 2005.
According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary the acronym BDU stands for “Battle Dress Uniform” and it’s not at all uncommon to find various kinds of BDU’s in the images on Facebook pages and YouTube channels maintained by male firearms enthusiasts. Until recently however, the same couldn’t be said about social media content that featured girls with guns… unless you were prepared to redefine the term BDU to mean “Bikinis, Double D’s and Underwear”. But based on evidence from the GALLUP poll and a recent scan of social media sites, times have changed.
Take 22 year old FateOfDestinee. A self-proclaimed “Gun Tuber”, Destinee produces a growing collection of YouTube videos that she describes as reviews of “guns, knives, and gear… with a twist”. That twist: Destinee provides thorough, well considered, hands-on reviews and delivers them with sincerity, humility and a sense of humor… while wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And she’s certainly doing her part to introduce more women to the world of firearms.
In her series “Women and Guns”, Destinee provides titles like “Why Should Ladies Shoot Guns?” and in the aptly named “How To Get Your Lady To The Range” offers advice for the gun toting guy on how to help, well, get his lady to the range, which at last count was approaching 8,000 views. With more than 14,000 YouTube channel subscribers and almost 1.2 million total video views to date, it’s clear that Destinee’s approach is working and that a growing audience is tuning in for the kind of material she’s turning out.
If Facebook, with more than a half billion (with a “B”) active users, was a country, it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India. While an effort to start a public discussion about firearms in either of those two countries might be ill advised, that’s not the case here. With access to features like “community pages”, which allow likeminded Facebook users to openly share topics that appeal to their common interests, a growing number of communities which cater to female shooters are emerging. Communities such as “Girl Gun Owners”, “Lip-gloss and Lead”, “Glock Girls” and “Girls of Fire” to name just a few, support the fact that, not only are more women getting gun savvy, they’re applying their real-world savvy to leverage social networking’s ability to connect with an expanding market.
Eager to serve that distinct marketplace, a growing number of online specialty retailers and service providers stand ready to help lighten their wallets. Do modern women and fashion go together? More than a few firearms focused companies seem to think so. Companies like Bang Bang Boutique – “high caliber style on the range and for concealed carry”, Tactical Barbe Designs – “making apparel for the fashion savvy women who loves to shoot or who just love guns”, Girls With Guns – “Women’s Apparel and Shooting Accessories” and even the 160 year old industry giant Smith & Wesson, who is reportedly rolling out a line of clothing for the female shooting enthusiast… being designed by world shooting champion Julie Golob… all have a strong presence on Facebook, and all have recognized the opportunity to cater to the fashion sense of America’s swelling ranks of armed women. It’s just too big a target market to miss.
On the subject of world class female shooters, it would be foolhardy to overlook the contribution of women like Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, Athena Lee, Laëtitia Daguenel and others to the rise in popularity, and the increase in social acceptance, of women owning guns. Virtually all of the world’s top competitive female shooters have embraced social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – and use them to great effect to stay connected with and mentor their female fans. If the world needs more role models, then these women serve as a great example of women helping women in their desire to acquire and use guns responsibly.
While it’s too soon to say that we’re witnessing a social revolution, the dramatic increase in the number of American women who own guns makes one thing clear. Social networking, as it has recently in so many real revolutions around the world, is playing a pivotal role in both spreading the word, and supporting the efforts of millions of law abiding women who have at last come to the gun. Whether their interests lie in hunting, competition, entertainment or defense, those of us who care deeply about America’s shooting heritage are proud of the growing legion of girls with guns.
David Schoenberg is a defensive handgun instructor, an NRA certified pistol instructor, US Training Center certified carbine instructor and a Glock certified armorer. David hosts New Colony Network’s “Training Ground” on BlogTalkRadio every Friday night at 8:00PM Eastern.