DES MOINES, Iowa – There are pink guns. Pink ear protection. Pink shell pouches. For your car, don’t miss the pink “Pistol Packing Princess” sticker. And if you want to pack heat while lunching at your favorite tea room, a purse with a special pistol holster is de rigueur.
All of this is aimed at women who want to own a gun — for protection, for hunting or for sport shooting — a rapidly growing demographic. But don’t let all that girly pink fool you. Women in the United States, and Iowa, for example, take their firearms seriously.
Research by the National Sporting Goods Association shows female participation in target shooting grew by 46.5% between 2001 and 2010. And an October 2011 Gallup Poll found 23% of women own a gun.
In Iowa, a law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, making weapons permits available to anyone who met criteria and passed a background check has resulted in huge increases in the number of permits granted to both men and women. In Polk County, where Des Moines is located, the number of women granted permits has outpaced those granted to men by more than two to one, skyrocketing more than 311% between 2010 and 2011.
The Des Moines Register talked with three central Iowa female gun enthusiasts about why they shoot. Each has her own reasons to own a gun.