Gun ownership among women at record high

The incident in Oklahoma earlier this week in which a teenage mother shot and killed an intruder, points to a growing trend in American that more women own firearms than ever before. Sarah McKinley made national news when she gunned down a knife wielding burglar while on the phone with 9-1-1. McKinley said she was trying to protect her baby.

"It's not an easy decision to make, but it was either going to be him or my son," she told reporters.

According to a recent Gallup poll, the number of women with guns is at 43 percent, an all time high. According to Chris Busch who sells firearms at the Gander Mountain store in Cicero, it's a trend that's been growing for the past several years.

Busch says women will often ask him for advise before buying a firearm, but he has found that they've often done their research before even entering the store. Bush says he treats female customers the same as the men; he asks them why they need a firearm, helps them make the right choice and gives them advise on safe handling and storage.

Dave Steinberg, who runs the firearms department at Ra-Lin's in Syracuse has also seen an increase in women purchasing guns. His display case contains a number of handguns that are designed specifically for women.

Because it takes a long time to obtain a pistol permit in New York, Steinberg says he will point his customers to a pump action shotgun. He says such a weapon offers several distinct advantages over a handgun. Steinberg points out the sound of chambering a round will often scare away an intruder, and the pellets fired from a shotgun would be sufficient to put down an assailant but not go through walls where bystanders or children could be wounded.

The Gallup poll also found that a record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns, and for the first time there is greater opposition than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In 1996 the numbers were nearly reversed.

Do you find the Gallup poll results realistic? Do you own a gun? Why do you think the number of women gun owners is higher now?