Taking Aim: Women and Guns

My instructor hands me the pistol. I grip the cold steel, wrapping my fingers around it. My heart beats rapidly, yet my palms are steady and dry. The smoky smell of sulphur permeates the air, but my vision is crystal clear and focused. I feel a sense of calm and confidence—excitement even—in a “bad girl” kind of way.

Aiming the weapon with both of my hands, I brace myself for the loud explosion and pull the trigger…


The latest Gallup Poll says that 47 percent of Americans now own guns, more than any time since 1993. And women are buying guns in increasing numbers. In fact, 23 percent of women across the U.S. report that they are gun owners, up from 13 percent in 2005. Hunting among women is also on the rise. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, for example, is moving on to “big game,” a step up from her current ventures in fowl hunting.

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Given the rising popularity of guns, I decide to learn more about these weapons by reaching out to local women who choose to hunt or practice shooting at a target range. What it is about these weapons of destruction that appeals to people, women in particular?

While I’ve never even touched a gun, I am open to the experience. So, off to Superior Pawn & Gun I go, where I meet with Morgan Murphy, the “heat-packing,” 21-year old female manager of the gun department. Morgan has been selling and shooting guns for years. A virtual connoisseur of weaponry, Morgan describes shooting guns as “fun.”

Morgan says the increasing national trend in women gun owners is also occurring in Hampton Roads. CBS News reports that with men typically away from the home a great deal, women are opting to protect their homes and families.

“Women are taking their own safety very seriously,” says Morgan.  “And the ages vary. We have young women, moms, and seniors come in to try their hand at shooting and eventually purchase a gun that fits their needs.”

As we sit and chat, I notice small groups of women entering the shooting range.

“We also have women who love to just come in and shoot for recreation,” Morgan explains. “Some of them own guns, and some of the women just rent from us each time they come in. Shooting is a really fun activity. It’s a stress-reliever and can be great team bonding.”

I decide to give it a shot—pun, definitely intended.

Morgan introduces me to a few different styles of handguns and explains that the grip and fit are essential in choosing the correct weapon. Next she shows me how to handle the gun, as well as all of the safety features. Finally, she explains how to properly carry the gun and the correct sizing of ammunition.

After Morgan fits me with ear mufflers, we enter the range. Read more…


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