Empowerment: Why Texas women get concealed handgun licenses

Posted By News On August 11, 2012 - 6:44pm

There's a myth among left-wing women on the coasts that right-wing women in the middle are somehow more oppressed or timid. Not at all, said a talk last year at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Instead, Texas women who hold concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) are motivated to do so by feelings of empowerment - and they don't feel like they need a man or police to defend them.

Nothing typified that mentality more than Annie Potts in the recent (and then gone) Texas-based show, "GCB". When her city-slicker daughter finds out her mother has two guns she says, "You have two guns? Mother, what are you afraid of?" The mother, played by Annie Potts, cocks the shotgun and says, "Not a damn thing."

That's empowerment, people.

In the United States, 47 percent of men but only 13 percent of women own a gun. According to gender sociologists, the disproportion is due to the association of guns with masculinity. But the number of female gun owners is rising.

In Texas, women obtained 190,000 out of the 800,000 CHLs issued between 1995 and 2009. Angela Stroud, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, interviewed 15 (yes, 15 - it's sociology, not science) Texas women who hold Concealed Carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) permits, to discover their motivations for becoming licensed. She found that gender played a central role, with guns reducing the significance of size and strength differences between men and women and decreasing women's feelings of helplessness.

"A mixture of motivations made the women feel empowered—the thrill of being good shooters, self-defense, and being different from 'other kinds of women'— and propelled them to want a license," said Stroud.

Women who break out of gender stereotypes also found they just enjoyed shooting tuns. "They were thrilled by their shooting competency because guns were marked as men's things. They developed a sense of confidence in their ability to defend themselves because they were personally rejecting the link between femininity and vulnerability."

Of course, sociologists are primarily anti-gun so the inference was also that a permit to carry a gun leads to an increased fear of crime and sense of vulnerability when unarmed, which is like saying someone with a burglar alarm in their house feels scared in houses without burglar alarms. But licensing process does tell people not to carry a gun unless it is both armed and they are comfortable using it and sociologists worry it may be making people look for trouble - peoplr may find a reason to use a gun the same way sociologists use small survey results. According to Stroud, women may see carrying a gun as the only way to feel safe, a significant drawback to guns as a form of self-defense, though not as significant as not having one if a lunatic is shooting up a movie theater.