By: Teresa Mull

As anyone who’s tried to purchase a firearm in the past year-and-a-half knows all too well, gun sales are booming.

And a new study shows just who’s buying all those guns: women.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Close to half of all new U.S. gun buyers since the beginning of 2019 have been women, a shift for a market long dominated by men, according to a new study.

According to results from Northwestern University’s 2021 National Firearms Survey, from 2019 ‘til now, some 3.5 million women have become first-time gun buyers, compared to 4 million men.

The Journal article notes how the #MeToo movement has evolved into the #NotMe movement of women empowering themselves against becoming victims of sexual assault and other forms of abuse.

What’s more, reports the Journal, “…[T]he survey found that new gun buyers were more racially diverse than existing owners who bought more. Among new gun buyers, 55% were white, 21% were Black and 19% were Hispanic. Among new women gun owners, 28% were Black. The 19.6 million existing gun owners who bought more firearms since 2019 were 71% male and 74% white.”

This survey comes at the same time as Fox News reports on Rick Ector – a GPM friend – who “trains thousands of inner city women ‘to ensure they’re never victims.’”

In a 2019 profile of Ector, we reported the NRA instructor had a goal of instructing 900 women in defensive firearm use.

In one weekend.

From the archives:

Eight years ago, Rick Ector hosted a free firearms training seminar for about 50 women in the Detroit area. This year, he’s confident 900 women will come out for a free lesson about gun safety, shooting, and self-defense.

“A lot of rumors and wives’ tales are dismissed as pure folly, and women are able to experience shooting for themselves,” Ector told Gunpowder Magazine. “And for many people, it’s like a watershed moment. They say, ‘I should have done this a long time ago!’”

Ector, an NRA-approved firearms trainer with Legally Armed in Detroit, explained to GPM that he was inspired to offer the free classes after hearing a grisly story of a murder of a woman on the news.

“It really bothered me to my core, that someone could be so evil and callous and disrespectful and just deposit a body of a woman in public like that,” Ector said. “It really stuck with me that somebody should do something. I couldn’t forget that story, and I decided that as a firearms trainer, I can do something with regard to empowering women, or at least give them an option to consider.”

Ector reached out to a handful of fellow firearms trainers and convinced them to donate their time. Ector was also able to convince the local gun range where he was teaching concealed carry classes to let him use the rang free of charge. Ector himself paid for the ammo and targets, and thus the free women’s firearms training program was off and running.

It hasn’t slowed down since.

“We had 50 women who were brave enough to come out and meet some strangers at a gun range for a free lesson,” Ector told GPM. “The next year we did 100, the year after that 200, then 400, etc. And now, I’m having a really good feeling that I can convince 900 women to show up to the gun range. I am looking forward to it. I have received nothing but positive responses from the news releases we’ve put out, and the feedback we’re getting in terms of registration and people calling and asking for more information.”

There are no pre-requisites to take the class, and guns and ammo are provided free of charge. Participants will receive an in-depth range safety briefing and be assigned a time slot during which they will receive one-on-one instruction in the shooting booth, where they will practice firing.

“You can be a complete novice to guns and shooting,” Ector said.

The extremely successful program attracts new-comers and veterans alike. Ector says some women come back year after year, some return every few years to take a refresher course, and some have never heard about the program and attend for the very first time.

“Many people, when they actually participate, are really surprised at how just some basic fundamental instruction can lead to positive results,” Ector said. “And I tell you, it’s a great feeling seeing all the smiles and the picture-taking, and people posting on social media, ‘Look at what I did!’

“What I hear from women is that they feel empowered, and they heard a bunch of information that wasn’t true about guns, and they’re glad that they did it, and they wish they had been exposed to guns and the shooting sports before,” Ector continued. “It’s just a great event, and what we find is that women go on and purchase guns down the road and seek out training and concealed pistol licenses and take on a more active role in personal protection of themselves, their children, and in some cases, their spouses.”

Ector also encourages other gun ranges, firearms instructors, and gun shops to try something similar to what he’s doing in metro Detroit.

Teresa Mull ([email protected]) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.