More Women Are Carrying Firearms Than Ever Before

More American women are packing heat, according to a new report.

Is that a good thing? Well, as with most aspects of the gun debate, the answer depends on whom you ask and what statistics you choose to believe.

There are currently 14.5 million Americans with concealed carry permits, according to research done by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a pro-gun think tank. That’s about 6% of the population and an increase of 215% since 2007. According to CPRC, in the eight states that provide permit data by gender, the number of women with permits has increased twice as quickly as the number of men – 161% for women to 85% for men.

It’s amazing to see the growth in value of Smith & Wesson compared to S&P 500 over a 2 year period.

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The CPRC report notes that murder rates fell 16% between 2007 and 2015 and suggests this is related to the significant increase in the number of people licensed to carry firearms. While that may be true, there are likely many factors in that decline.

Gun ownership advocates insist firearms are a powerful way for women to protect themselves against violent crime. However, their arguments are most often made anecdotally, via powerful stories of women who successfully fended off attackers with a gun. But such instances seem rare. The FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report says that just 13 of 270 justified homicides involved a woman shooting a man.

Related: 10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Gun opponents insist that owning a gun actually makes a woman less safe as the weapon is often turned against her in a domestic violence episode. That 2013 FBI report noted that in over half of the incidents where a man killed a woman he used a gun. In 280 of those cases the murder came after an argument.

Those who are leery of women carrying also guns note that a firearm isn’t guaranteed to protect against street crime either, as an attacker can easily surprise the victim before she can get to her weapon.

So is a woman safer with a gun? Yes. Maybe. Possibly. Or not.

Such is the nature of the gun debate in America.

As Obi Wan Kenobi told the young Luke Skywalker, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Related: The 10 Most Peaceful Countries In The World

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