Fighting the War on Women … with Guns!

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-beautiful-young-women-gun-image9296591As the cultural War on Women carries on with few signs of subsiding any time soon, people and organizations continue to try to find ways to fight back against the misogyny that pervades our society.  One Texas non-profit organization thinks it has the answer: provide firearms and weapons training to vulnerable women.  While this may sound appealing to some, this is hardly a solution to an ideological problem.

The Armed Citizens Project of Houston is dedicated to providing people in “mid-high crime areas with defensive shotguns, for free!”  (The exclamation mark is theirs.)  Their homepage boasts that they are “[f]ighting the war on women, one free shotgun at a time.”  According to founder Kyle Coplen in an interview withMSNBC, the (stated) reasoning behind his organization is to decrease the crime rate by providing people with guns.  However, that same MSNBC article cites studies indicating that women are less safe with guns in their homes than they would be without them.  But the ACP’s mission has another glaring problem: It treats the War on Women as a literal war, rather than an ideological one.
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Let’s Talk Guns: Now

This morning a young man in his twenties pulled up to a Connecticut elementary school carrying no fewer than four firearms and murdered 26 people (at last count), including his mother and 20 children under the age of 10. As a parent, I am utterly destroyed (I must have snuck in on my son’s nap about four times—in between sobs—to just stare at him and feel grateful). As a citizen, I am enraged. People, we need to talk. Today, right this second, as emotions are raw, as faces are covered in snot and tears, we need to talk about why this happened, how we could let it happen and what the hell we’re going to do about it—all of us—starting today.

We need to talk about why we have guns in the first place. Seriously, why? They serve no civil societal purpose other than to kill

another human. People who buy them for protection are doing so to protect themselves from other people with guns. Hunters don’t need access to assault rifles. People don’t need concealed weapons permits in Starbucks. Good lord, they don’t need them at schools or daycare centers (WTF, Michigan?) Why is our society so obsessed with arming itself around the clock?

We need to talk about who is being killed. Let’s start with the timely topic. ABC News estimates that there have been 31 school shootings in the U.S. since Colombine in 1999. According to a Children’s Defense Fund study, 5,740 children and teens were killed by guns in just two years (2008-2009). That breaks down to “one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years.” The circumstances of these shootings don’t matter. They were killed by guns, period.

The presence of a gun in the house raises the risk of death, assault and suicide by 50 percent. In the U.S. women in particular are at a higher risk of homicide or assault by a weapon than in any other developed country in the world. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Americans under age 40, and more than half of those suicides are carried out with guns. All these deaths, none of them for protection or hunting and gathering.

We need to talk about why Washington won’t fix gun control laws. According to research by Mother Jones, there have been at least 61 mass murders in the U.S. since 1982. More than three-quarters of the guns used were obtained legally. Time and time again the Supreme Court strikes down cases that seek to limit or ban handgun ownership. Why? No presidential administration has the balls, it seems, to attack this issue and make changes that can save lives—thousands of lives, children’s lives. Why? In his address after the shooting, President Obama said, “We’re going to have to come together to take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this.” Yes, Mr. President, we are. Get. On. That.

So start talking—to each other, to your local, state and national government officials, to the media, on the blogs, everywhere. This is a time of mourning for us all, but it’s also time to face—and fix—this problem.


Guns Won’t Stop Rape Like Education Can

Should women carry guns to ward off sexual predators, as a South Carolina sheriff recently suggested? He made the statement after nabbing a rape/kidnapping suspect who already had a long history of arrests. He says, “I really think that would send a message to some of these people who can’t control themselves that you better be really cautious who you mess with because they might be armed.”

Of course, anti-gun activists are up in arms (or whatever) about the statement, alleging that more people carrying guns only leads to more gun violence. And anti-rape activists consider the remarks a form of blame-the-victim scapegoating.

But I see it differently. I think this is less about “blaming the victim” and more about the way we think about violence towards women in this country. Rather than focusing on education, prevention and awareness, we look for band-aid approaches, such as telling women not to dress like sluts, not to go out alone at night or urge them to carry concealed weapons.

I’m not against women practicing their Second Amendment right to bear arms if it makes them feel more safe. They should be properly trained to use them safely and know how to kick a little ass, too. But it’d be far more effective if we also did a better job of educating the masses about violent and sexual crimes against women so that fewer instances occurred, and that more people knew what to do about them when they did.

Look at the success of Take Back the Night crusades on college campuses and now, around the globe. The first event occurred 30 years ago, when the term “date rape” wasn’t even in our lexicon–it was one of those things we didn’t talk about, mostly because women were made to feel like it wasn’t a crime and that their voice wouldn’t be heard anyway. Now there are Take Back delegations in nearly every U.S. city, countless rape hotlines that save lives and catch predators, and a month dedicated to domestic violence awareness, when even morning talk shows focus on the issue.

Ending violence against women takes intervention on a societal level. We need to make everyone as incensed about this issue as they are about terrorism–and let’s not forget that sexual terrorism has been around longer than any other kind.

That South Carolina sheriff was frustrated and fed-up with violent offenders ending up back on the streets. He was suggesting a method of protection that made sense to him. What makes more sense to me is to fix the laws that put first-offense, inner-city drug addicts in prison longer than someone who commits a sex crime. Let’s put our loud-mouthed, lobbying muscle (you know, the way the media makes stories like this viral without considering the larger issues) behind things that can create real change.

 


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