Women and Gun Ownership

Friday, October 17, 2014
Small Arms Survey

Policy and research on the role of firearms in women's lives usually stress women as victims of gun violence. Around the world, firearms are used in roughly 40 per cent of the estimated 66,000 annual homicides with female victims. Guns are even more commonly used to injure, intimidate, and coerce women (Alvazzi del Frate, 2011, pp. 117, 131-132).

Although women own and use guns, or live in households where firearms are present, firearms policy and research tend to focus on the role of and effects on men, who are the majority of firearm owners worldwide (Alvazzi del Frate, 2014, p. 2).

While relevant data is scarce, it reveals a substantial gap between male and female civilian firearm owners and users. As shown in this Research Note, women account for a smaller proportion of gun owners than men, and they are not as aware of or not as willing to acknowledge the presence of firearms in homes and communities.

Bridging this gender gap will help shed light on perceptions of and attitudes towards firearms, which could help to inform the agenda for women, peace, and security as well as the development of comprehensive and efficient safety policies. By showing what can be said with relative certainty, this Research Note establishes a baseline for systematic analysis and careful policy-making.

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