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Are Guns Becoming More Popular With Women?

RICHMOND (CBS 5) — From specially-made pistols to designer hunting clothes, the gun industry these days is targeting a newer clientele: women. But are they responding?

During a recent busy Saturday at the Rod & Gun Club in Richmond, it wasn’t a typical crowd. It was mostly women in a gun training program sponsored by the National Rifle Association, called “Women on Target.”

Local NRA chapter leader Brenda Schmale said women come in for many different reasons. One common reason: self defense. “I get phone calls from women whose lives have been threatened, who have had people breaking into their house,” said Schmale.

But others come just for fun, like Phyllis Wing, who grew up with guns in Oregon. “We did a lot of garbage dump shooting,” she told us. 30 years later, she’s back, with her daughter Mary. “It’s better than shopping!” she said. And out on the range she hasn’t lost her old skills.

Then there is Gretchen Werner and her sister Debbie Centanni. “I was raised in Marin County. My family did not shoot at all,” said Werner. She signed up with Women on Target a year ago and says she has learned a lot. “It’s a nice personal challenge because I am just working on improving for myself,” Werner said. She talked her sister Debbie into signing up, too.

The coaches are all volunteers, including range master Victor Yee. “I like teaching women, they learn better, have less testosterone,” he said. For $40 to cover the cost of ammo, the women get two hours of hands on training, with shotguns, or pistols. The instruction is one-on-one.

What is the aim of the class? Safety, first and foremost, Schmale said. “Accidents should never happen if you learn how to handle a firearm safely,” she said.

But Dr. Garen Wintemute who practices emergency medicine at UC Davis Medical Center said accidents can and do happen when women own guns. “We have very clear data” Wintemute said. “Here in California we looked at over 30,000 women who bought handguns. The risk of homicide did not go down.”

It actually doubled for women according to his study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Men on the other hand who bought handguns reduced their risk, by 21 percent.

As for the so-called surge of women getting into guns, Wintemute said “We’re not seeing one.”

The FBI doesn’t keep registration statistics based on gender, there are only surveys. Wintemute thinks the NRA’s claim that more women are buying guns is a ploy to sell more guns. “They had basically sold and resold and resold their traditional market, white guys, and they needed to broaden the market,” Wintemute said.

But back at the Richmond Rod & Gun Club, Schmale wasn’t buying it. “I don’t think it’s a marketing campaign. I think women are finally becoming very interested in it. It’s gone gangbusters,” Schmale said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • genomega1

    If a woman has to make a choice between a restraining order and a handgun, the handgun is by far the best choice.

  • Ghame Playerprofile

    Gun Control: The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her pantyhose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound.



    • genomega1

      Yep, you nailed it. Handguns prevent crimes hundreds of times everyday, but the msm will never admit to that fact, it doesn’t fit their agenda.

  • Mike S

    The choice of Garen Wintemute as the counterpoint to suggest there is a danger to women using firearms just shows that there is a media bais against firearms.

    Like Brenda I am a volunteer firearms safety instructor and I can gaurantee you women are currently outnumbering men in seeking such traiinng. They learn better, are safer, shoot better and while reasons they seek instruction vary the ability to protect themselves and thier families is a common thread. Law enforcement neither can nor are in any way obligated to protect individuals.( LA PD misses over 200,000 911 calls a year) and in these times of reduced public safety budgets your spin is regretable.

    BTW, Dr Wintemute is the leading results driven researcher of the gun control crowd. You could have thrown a dart at the names of all researchers and not found a more biased example of all the research the well funded gun control extremists groups like Violence Policy Center and the Brady Handgun Control folks have funded.

    Wintemute’s research is ridiculed by many, but that doesn’t stop his presenting his / thier agenda as research. See for a comprehensive well quoted collection of rebuttals to his nonsense.

    That is, If you care to present a truthful view of research into guns, self defense and crime.

    Unfortuanately you only to need to be “fair” as in allow both sides to be heard.

    Whom you select and how you editorialize your promo teasers on this report says much of your bias.

    And you wonder why your trade is so little trusted by citizens who ever know anything about stories you cover.

    As volunteer instructors we are carrying on the tradition of safety training, as the NRA has promoted for 130 years.

    40% of households have firearms and accidents are at all time lows. We train to use hot stoves, sharp knives, automobiles and swimming pools.And there are more acidental deaths from all of those. Why wouldn’t women want to understand firearms safety. And by the way, have fun doing so.

  • John

    Correlation is not causality. Did it cross anybodies mind that women who bought guns might have been at higher risk which is why the bought guns. Getting training seems like a good way to reduce that stat

  • John

    Hey where is the real link to the study – the link in the article is a press release – did KPIX actually get the study and check if it was being represented reasonably before you went to air? If not why not?

  • tom

    i hope guns are getting more popular with women. maybe the uptick in female gun ownership will correspond with a drop in rapes or an increase in fatal shootings… of fellons.

  • Ed

    The day will come when “guns and women” news ‘stories’ will be about as relevant and interesting as “oh hey, women vote now!” news ‘stories’.

    And Dr. Wintemute’s “very clear data” has been debunked over, and over and over again. His methods and research are flawed. Four minutes with Google will give you the counterpoints and the facts.

  • John Ambrose

    Not sure where the data comes from that only old white men own guns. At the two shooting clubs I belong to, the membership looks like the Rainbow Coalition. It appears your expert is mixing personal opinion with data.

    • Jon Andreae

      I think Dr. Garen Wintemute is a sexist.

  • Kaid Presus

    Clearly these women are compensating for something… like the fact that any criminal who attacks them is almost guaranteed to be physically bigger and stronger.

    • DEE DE


  • Piper

    Yeah, I’ve seen Wintemute’s “studys”. You could have interviewed doctors that really do know what they’re talking about, he’s not my choice for fair and balanced. Apparently neither is this news article. Just another hit piece by the always biased antigun MSM.

  • Judy

    I didn’t see what the data was or where it was obtained, therefore I am suspicious of the findings. He did draw pretty graphs, though.

  • Billy

    I think you guys actually linked the wrong study! The one you linked (here, in case it’s edited: isn’t from the New England Journal of Medicine. The one that is linked claims that gun ownership is down, but bases it’s “data” on the number of households, which has multiplied many more times since 1979.

    Regarding the claim that people (women) are more likely to hurt themselves with a firearm than defend themselves, or that firearms do nothing to reduce the number of homicides, I say, “SHOW ME THE DATA!!” Where is the study? Every high school freshman knows to cite your work!

  • Sara


    –> People who buy flood insurance are four times more likely to experience a flood! Flood insurance must be the cause!!

  • Lyle

    I dunno about the rest of you… but when I go to the range I see many more women at the range than I used to.

  • Matt Brown

    I have a couple thoughts. First I agree that shooting, at least in California is very diverse. At my range, I see lots of whites, Latinos, Islanders, and Asians. I don’t see many African Americans which is a shame. Hopefully that changes. As for women I don’t see as many as men, but I go on the hardcore rifle days. On the weekends there are more women and many more on the handgun range there.

    My wife only shoots our pistol and not rifles. I think that maybe women coming into the sport are more concerned about recoil from a rifle that just isn’t there with a pistol.

    As for Dr. Wintemute. I have read his work and being in the science world myself, it is clear that he is presenting only facts and statistics in a way so as to support his funded research. We howl when drug companies or Monsanto pay for scientists to do research that supports them. Why do we accept it from the Brady Campaign when they fund research to support their position.

    In research science, there is a saying that whatever you look for you will find. In as much as if you are of one position, you can make most all data conform with your view.

    I do not buy his impartiality in the issue… The Brady Campaign already bought it…

  • EvenSteven

    Women with guns, sexy!!! As long as they know how to use them!

  • EqualrRightsForAll

    America lets women drive cars, get credit cards and own property now. They can even vote! Why shouldn’t we let then own guns too? If anyoe wants to live in a country where women are denied the same rights that men have there is property for sale in the Middle East.

    • Capt Phil

      No disagreement, but let me add that we don’t “let” women buy guns. The Second Amendment refers to “…the right of the People…” to keep and bear arms. Last I looked, women are part of the “People.” They have the inalienable RIGHT to arms.

  • Chase

    “Wintemute thinks the NRA’s claim that more women are buying guns is a ploy to sell more guns. “They had basically sold and resold and resold their traditional market, white guys, and they needed to broaden the market,” Wintemute said.”

    The NRA does not sell guns. The world of firearms is not a monolithic entity, and the NRA doesn’t wield absolute power over everything to do with firearms like some kind of evil emperor.

  • trapdoor

    This tv segment could have been great if the rebuttal segment did not occur. Even the day long advertized title was erroneous. And you ran the story for two days as if you were proud of presenting sleaze. There was not even a reason for such a rebuttal. The segment stood by itself that many more women are interested in guns. Finally, the selection of this “ER doctor” as a counterpoint was ludicrous. It shows that the KPIX reporting staff does not and cannot do its own research and/or story facts verifyiing. I guess that you all are toasting your joining the rest of the trashy media.

  • Gunslinger Gramma

    I loved the segment on women and guns. It let the women out there see that they too can learn to shoot handguns, rifles and shotguns. It is a sport as well as a protection. Safety first was stressed. If you want to use a gun, you should learn to use it safely. More women are doing sports that used to be only for men, why not the shooting sports as well

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