By John Counts from AL.com

Women own guns as a way to protect themselves at a much higher rate than men, a recent study shows. The 2017 Pew Research Center report revealed 27 percent of women gun owners cite protection as the only reason they own a gun, compared to eight percent for men. Personal safety and gun ownership among women were recent topics discussed in “Guns: An American Conversation,” an initiative by Advance Local newsrooms from across the country in partnership with Spaceship Media. The month long project has brought together 150 engaged readers – half of which are women – with a broad spectrum of opinions to talk about guns in an honest and civil way. The conversation has been going inside a closed Facebook group where participants post links to articles, ask questions and discuss issues since the beginning of April. [penci_related_posts taxonomies=”undefined” title=”Related Posts” background=”” border=”” thumbright=”no” number=”2″ style=”grid” align=”alignleft” displayby=”recent_posts” orderby=”random”]There are differing numbers of just how many women are packing heat in America. The Pew study states that 22 percent of women personally own a gun compared to 39 percent of men. Other sources have much lower rates. Consider a 2016 article by Trace, an online publication devoted to gun issues, which claims that many of the trend stories in the past decade declaring an uptick in female gun ownership were based on slanted stats. The article cites a study conducted by the General Social Survey at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, which put the percentage of gun-owning women at 11.7 percent in 2014. The Pew study also shows women who own firearms are less involved in gun culture than their male counterparts. For instance, women are less likely to go to the shooting or gun range, go hunting or watch television shows about hunting and shooting. Women gun owners are also more likely to support gun control measures. Sixty percent of Republican or Republican-leaning women who own guns support a ban on assault weapons compared to 28 percent of their male counterparts, according to the Pew study. Women also support a federal government database to track all gun sales more than men, 57 percent to 35 percent, the study states. Women were slightly less likely to be victims of violent crimes in 2016, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The rate of total violence per 1,000 people 12 or older was 1.54 for males and 1.49 for women, according to the BJS Crime Victimization Report. Women also die from firearms at a much smaller rate than men. In 2015, 418 men died from accidental discharge of a firearm, while only 71 women died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In that same year, men used a firearm 18,910 to commit suicide, while women did only 3,108. Women were also much less likely to be shot to death in 2015, according to the CDC. Males accounted for 11,029 homicide gun deaths that year while 1,950 were women.