How have we gotten here?
Years ago, guns were like the old Henry Ford quote: You could get them in any color you wanted, as long as it was black. Guns came in wood, various metal finishes and black. That was it, at least as far as mass production.
Women have been shooting guns in this country as long as men have, but it’s only relatively recently that gun manufacturers latched onto the idea of making “women’s guns.” In a few cases, the guns were actually built with women in mind. But in most cases, the name of the game was “Pink it and shrink it,” which left us with guns that were slightly smaller (usually a good thing in the case of long guns; not always the case for handguns) and lighter (seldom a good thing with handguns because of the recoil factor) and, of course, covered in pink paint or Cerakote.
Pink guns were a hit. They sold, and they’re still selling. The manufacturers’ pink-it-up marketing plan paid off, and they kept making pink guns. Women at the time were just thrilled that someone was finally paying attention to us.
Over time, we started to realize that a pretty color wasn’t enough. We needed the gun to actually fit our hands and our bodies, but redesigning existing guns or creating new ones from scratch is an expensive proposition for a firearms manufacturer, so most of them were slow to embrace the idea. Adding a pink coating was easier and cheaper.
This, among other things, led to the pink backlash. Some women, especially the more die-hard gun enthusiasts, started seeing any form of pink as a slap in the face, declaring pink guns insulting and patronizing and resenting their very existence. Even now, with handguns made in every conceivable size and configuration—not specifically designed to or marketed to women, but certainly capable of fitting us well—pink is derided in many circles as “too cute” or “not serious enough.” Some gun snobs even go so far as to play the safety card, claiming pink and other pretty-colored guns look too much like toys and present a danger to children who might not be able to tell they’re real guns. Even as it became trendy for 3-gun shooters to trick out their ARs with fancy colors and designs, it also became trendy to bash pink self-defense handguns as “not for serious shooters.”
You should shoot whatever you like, period.
The way I see it, we have two problems leading to the pink backlash. The first is worrying about what other women are doing instead of being content with ourselves. The second is assuming all women shooters are like us.
There is way, way too much comparison in the world of women shooters and hunters, and we’re mostly perpetuating it ourselves. We want to fuss about how this girl doesn’t really know what she’s doing, so how dare she get her own TV show or a shooting sponsorship just because she’s a cute young blonde. We want to roll our eyes at the soccer mom who walks into a gun store with her husband, having no idea what she wants, and picks up a gun because it’s pink. Ugh, it’s so stereotypical, isn’t it?
Just stop. Stop looking at her and focus your attention on your own path. She’s making her choices and you are making yours. A woman choosing a pink gun is not setting back women’s rights or making the rest of us look dainty and dumb, for crying out loud. You can insert all the cliches here about comparison being a thief of joy and if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, but in the end, just mind your business! The only time you should offer unsolicited comments on another shooter’s choices are to address a dangerous safety concern, to compliment her, or to otherwise offer her support.
Second, if you’re a gun enthusiast, it’s easy to assume that all women shoppers and shooters are, too. They’re not, nor are all male shoppers and shooters—not by a long shot. A whole lot of people out there are casual users. They might buy a gun and shoot it once a year or once every three years. While that’s not an ideal situation, it’s reality for a lot of people—quite possibly the majority of gun owners, in fact—and we need those people in the 2A community. We need their support and their votes, and we need to embrace their entrance into the gun world.
If a first-time shopper walks into a gun shop a little bit afraid, and she’s drawn to the pink gun in the case because it’s less intimidating to her than all those black guns, as long as it’s a well-made gun in a size and caliber that’s suitable for her, why would we not encourage that purchase? Why would we be anything but thrilled that another new gun owner is dipping her toes into the 2A waters?
Even if you eschew pink as a grown woman, don’t forget about little girls. I’ve had more than one rough, tough, burly man’s-man tell me about their young daughters, “I’ll buy her any color gun she wants if it means she’ll go hunting or shooting with me,” and if that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does.
So shoot what you like. If you want a gun in baby-doll pink or Tiffany blue or zebra print, rock on with it. Embrace the pink! Let anyone who judges you for your choices underestimate you at their own peril.