For gun industry, women a major market

by Dan Freedman, SFGate.com  |  published on February 12, 2013

gun industry

Much like Virginia Slim cigarettes, gun marketing to women has come a long way since the 1980s and 1990s, when Colt advertised handguns in the Ladies’ Home Journal and a poster featured a reclining “Lady Derringer” wielding the Old West favorite in a low-cut dress and black stockings.

Now the Glock website identifies “Women” as a category under “Which Glock are You?” A woman’s manicured hands open a fashionable clutch above photos of the site’s “top choice” handguns, the G19 and the G26 “baby Glock.”

Gun manufacturers and customizers market pink-colored semiautomatic rifles and handguns. One, an AR-15, depicts a rifle-holding Hello Kitty cartoon character emblazoned on its pink stock.

Renewed scrutiny

While men have long been the gun world’s primary customers, women have been a secondary market at least since the 1880s, when Annie Oakley won fame as a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.

But the marketing techniques of the firearms industry are undergoing renewed scrutiny in the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, Conn., in which gunman Adam Lanza used his mother’s weaponry to kill her plus 20 children and six adults at the school.

Gun rights groups and proponents say more women are buying guns for target shooting, hunting and self-protection, and that gun control proposals such as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s updated assault weapons ban would infringe on their Second Amendment rights.

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