Picture a gunslinger and Annette Evans probably does not spring to mind. She is Chinese-American, lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia and identifies herself as socially liberal—not the archetypal conservative, rural white man. Yet she owns over a dozen rifles, pistols and shotguns (“one for every occasion, like purses or shoes”) and teaches self-defence courses to women. Her race and gender put her at risk, she says. “It may be a low chance that I’ll run into someone who will kill me, but without a gun, I’ll die.”
More gun-owners, especially new ones, look like Ms Evans. Of the 7.5m Americans who bought firearms for the first time between January 2019 and April 2021—as gun-buying surged nationwide—half were female, a fifth black and a fifth Hispanic, according to a recent study by Matthew Miller of Northeastern University and his co-authors. The share of black adults who joined the gun-owning ranks, 5.3%, was more than twice that of white adults. That is new: in a previous survey, in 2015, new buyers skewed white and male, though they were more politically liberal than long-standing ones. Overall, today’s gun-owners are still largely white (73%) and male (63%). But they are diversifying.
Gun culture has broadened its appeal. Decades ago most people bought guns for hunting and recreational shooting. Now they mostly do so for self-defence, which is a universal concern. People who feel vulnerable to crime or hold less faith in the police are more likely to arm themselves.
— The Economist in Gun-ownership in America is diversifying, because of safety fears