“We always hear about a woman’s right to choose, and we are women who want the right to choose how to protect our lives,” says Jenn Coffey, national director of legislative affairs for Second Amendment Sisters, a women's advocacy group with the motto “self defense is a human right.”
“Gun-control laws degrade our rights, and put more rights in the hands of criminals,” Ms. Coffey adds.
Aside from polls showing an uptick in gun ownership among women, there is other evidence that women are becoming more familiar with firearms.
The National Rifle Association, for one, is conducting more training sessions directed at women. Its Women on Target program, which started in 2000 with 500 participants, had 9,500 attendees in 2011. (The NRA does not release figures for membership.)
For another, Coffey says her local chapter of Second Amendment Sisters, in Andover, N.H., has seen a big upswing in participants at its safety trainings and target practices. The Texas-based organization, founded in 1999, now has more than 10,000 members across the US.
Women also appear to be taking greater part in gun sports. Five million women took part in target shooting in 2011, a 51.5 percent jump from 2001, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Women who hunt increased 41.8 percent in the same period, from 1.8 million to 2.6 million, according to the association's annual sports participation reports.