Introduction Little is known about female gun owners in the USA. We describe the number and type of firearms owned, and reasons for owning, by sex.
Methods An online survey conducted in 2015 of 3949 US adults; cross-tabulations using survey weights generated nationally representative estimates.
Results Twelve per cent (95% CI 10.6% to 13.6%) of women and 33.3% of men (95% CI 30.3% to 36.5%) personally owned guns. Male and female gun owners are demographically similar and cite similar reasons for owning firearms, but female gun owners own fewer guns (3.6 vs 5.6). Among female gun owners, 40.4% (95% CI 35.5% to 45.5%) own handguns only, whereas 20.7% (95% CI 18.2% to 23.4%) of male gun owners own handguns only. Approximately three of four male (73.4% (95% CI 70.3% to 76.3%)) and female (76.7% (95% CI 71.6% to 81.1%)) handgun owners own guns for protection from strangers. Males and female gun owners are equally likely to store at least one gun loaded and unlocked.
Conclusions Male and female gun owners in the USA are demographically similar, cite similar reasons for owning guns and, despite males owning more guns, are equally likely to store at least one gun loaded and unlocked.
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Contributors MM and DA conceptualized the survey. JAW analyzed the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the findings, revised the article and approved the final manuscript as submitted.
Funding This work was supported by the Fund for a Safer Future and the Joyce Foundation; neither funder played a role in the design, conduct or reporting of the research.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval This study was approved by the Northeastern University Institutional Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.