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Feminspire | April 23, 2014

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Why Women Should Be More Involved in the Gun Control Debate

Why Women Should Be More Involved in the Gun Control Debate

Many people think about gun control in the United States as an issue of legislation, having only to do with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. This line of thinking asserts that gun control affects everyone equally. Like many political and legislative issues, however, gun control affects women far more than it does men. Until such time as every person on the planet is safe from every other person that is bigger and stronger than they are, women will be more profoundly affected by issues related to violence.

April 17th, 2013, was a sad day for 90% of Americans, when the U. S. Senate voted down proposed gun control measures. These additional background checks would not have been a ban on guns by any means. When a gun is purchased from a licensed dealer, a background check is already performed. This new legislation would have required a background check for purchases made online and at gun shows.

Whatever your stance is on gun control, the scariest part of this is that the Senate went completely against the wishes of the people they represent. Even if you were personally against the bill, you have to stop and consider what this means for you as a citizen of the United States. Your elected officials are not listening to you.

Of course, this comes as little surprise to women in the U.S. American women have been running headlong into that particular wall for some time now. Nearly 700 new pieces of legislation were put forth in the first quarter of 2013 to try to control, restrict and inhibit women’s reproductive rights, many going against Constitutional law.

Here’s where gun control becomes a feminist issue: To start, the government listens even less often to its female constituents than it does to its male constituents. Whatever opinion women may have about this issue, it’s not going to be heard in the first place.

The second big reason gun control is a feminist issue is because of the domestic violence statistics associated with firearms. Women are 500% more likely to die from a domestic violence situation in a home where there is a firearm. According to the Violence Policy Center, “A 1976 to 1987 analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation data revealed that more than twice as many women were shot and killed by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than were murdered by strangers using firearms, knives, or any other means.” This same site lists numerous statistics and studies, including the fact that half of the women who were victims of homicide in 2000, where the weapon was known, were killed by firearms.

These statistics are not hidden in some dark little hole where no one can find them. These statistics are readily available from a massive number of sites just by using a search engine and typing in the search string “domestic violence firearm.” The statistics are backed up by numerous academic and government studies, as well as studies done by law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. What it boils down to is very simple: Women get killed in domestic situations by firearms far more often than men do. There’s no getting around it.

There is legislation to acknowledge the disparity with regard to gun control and domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is meant to keep firearms out of the hands of those who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Basically, if you’ve  been convicted of any form of domestic violence, you cannot legally own a firearm. This might seem like a great thing, but with the current state of legislation on gun control measures in the U. S., this ban is extremely easy to get around. The very measure that 90% of Americans were hoping would pass on April 17th would have made a significant contribution to enforcing the DVOGB. By making sure that all gun sales were subject to criminal background checks, the people who are banned from owning firearms would not be able to simply buy their guns from Craigslist or gun shows.

So seeing as gun control really is feminist issue, it’s time we had a little talk about it. When you read the information on firearm homicides, if you’re a woman, you have to be saying to yourself, “This applies even more so to me,” because is really does. You have to be thinking that it’s the same people who want women to be nothing more than life-support systems for breeding machines that are telling you that your personal domestic situation is of no importance to them.

Now, we need to address one issue here that has been raised time and time again. People who are against further legislation for gun ownership will happily tell you that making something illegal does not stop people from doing it. The fact is, even if guns were banned globally, we would never be rid of them entirely. The mechanics of gunsmithing follow some pretty basic principles. In other words, it’s not that hard to make your own gun and ammo if you’re desperate enough.

Here are some hard facts on the effectiveness of gun control measures: We’re going to compare Canada with the United States. First, it should be pointed out that Canada does not ban a lot of guns. The Bushmaster used by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School is legal in Canada. Handguns are legal, too. They are, however, severely restricted, and getting a concealed carrying permit is almost unheard of unless you’re law enforcement, military or a Brink’s employee that is actually doing cash transports.

We’re going to look at two very simple statistics. First we’ll look at firearm-related homicides, and then we’ll take a look at rates of violence. The numbers are going to surprise you. Bear in mind, these statistics are based on per capita numbers, and not gross population, so the numbers have already been adjusted for fairness. For every 100,000 people in Canada 2.13 people are killed by firearm, 0.50 of which are homicide-related. In the United States that number goes up to 10.2, and of those 3.2 are homicides. This means that of the total population, in Canada firearm-related homicides happen to 0.0005%, while in the U.S. 0.0032% of the population will be murdered with a firearm. The firearm homicide rate in the United States is more than six times higher, per capita, than is it in Canada. [Note, the statistics for Canada are taken from 2011 data, while the statistics for the United States are taken from 2010 data.]

Now, you might be under the impression that Americans are simply more violent than Canadians. Not so! The assault rate in Canada is almost identical to that in the U.S. Out of every thousand people in Canada, 7.1 people become the victims of assault, and in the United States it’s 7.6 people.

Another argument given regarding gun control and firearm homicide statistics, is that it is happening within extremely crowded, urban areas, and that those living conditions are what cause such alarming statistics. So, for the sake of honesty and thoroughness, we need to ask ourselves if there is any truth to that statement. In 2011, Chicago, with a population of over 2.7 million people, had a murder rate of 15.9 people per hundred thousand population. In that same year Atlanta, with a population of only 425,533, had a murder rate of 20.7 per hundred thousand people. New Orleans, also in 2011 and with 346,974 people, had a murder rate of 57.6 Infer what you will, but it does not look as though population has a great deal to do with it.

People are not being asked to give up their guns. Nobody is coming to your house to yank your manky old rifle out of your cold dead hands, no matter how many times you tell someone that’s what they’re going to have to do. The only thing anyone is looking to do is to try to inject some common sense into preventing violence. If someone is doing something that works, then maybe it’s worth taking at look at how they’re doing it. It doesn’t hurt to try something on for size for a while, and see how it fits. If it doesn’t, you take it off and try something else on.

We live in a time when fully automatic guns can spray bullets at a rate of 800 to 900 rounds per minute, although that is severely limited by the capacity of the magazine. Semi-automatics are physically capable of firing at the same speed, but their firing rate is limited by the speed with which a human being can pull a trigger – a somewhat slower rate, to be sure.

We no longer live in a time when the most highly-trained marksmen could fire four rounds per minute. So we are required to keep up with our technology. Two hundred years ago we did not have laws banning child pornography on the Internet. It wasn’t because there wasn’t any exploitation of minors going on at that time, because there certainly was. It was because there was no Internet. Two hundred years ago we had murder, too, but we did not have fully-automatic rifles with astronomical firing rates and high-capacity magazines.

The final point that needs to be addressed is the constant cry of those saying the amendments to the U.S. Constitution should be inviolate, and that the forefathers never meant for the Constitution to be changed. If you’re one of those people, it’s time for you to buy a dictionary. The word amendment means change.

Written by Rain Stickland
Follow her blog, Torrential Rain, or her Twitter!

  • sungloblu

    Hi Rain!

    You know me well enough that to know that I take issue with some of your non-feminist points. I’ll withhold comments on those points rather than invite input from others.

    However, I sincerely admire your work in this article. It is objective and very well put together.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003832366866 Rain Stickland

      Hi!

      Yes, we have some disparities in our opinions on a few things, but we’re grown-ups who can handle those sorts of conversations. Trolls are not, so it’s best this way…lol.

      Thanks for the critique, though. I appreciate you reading and commenting!

  • techsci

    You aren’t advocating gun control. You’re advocating the state taking control of gun accessories and violently arresting those in possession of such accessories. You’re advocating for more violence, just from the state side.

    As a feminist you’re not an egalitarian but its ironic that 500% higher likelihood of women dying should be solved by increasing laws and violently enforcing them through the state, which is totally run by men, for men. Way to empower the most immoral agency to ever exist, the one that violently discriminated women in the first place because it was given such power: the state.

  • PERBKERK

    I agree with you that women need to be involved in the gun control debate, but it puzzles me how you came to the conclusion they should be on the anti- side of the debate; especially with regards to the domestic violence aspect of things.

    It’s important to remember with any legal situation that the state can only do so much with violent coercive power to fix a problem (and thus can only do so much to fix the DV problem), but the important thing to remember is that over-reliance on the state to fix the DV issue specifically inevitably breeds victims.

    After all if your significant other got drunk, inexplicably got violent, started threatening to shoot you, and now looks like (s)he’s going for their gun, the police are 15 minutes away. Without a plan to defend yourself and the means to do so, the police will show up to draw chalk outlines and arrest said significant other, but what good does that do you?

    Thus the solution is not reliance on the state, but teaching our women and girls that they need to take the idea of how they will defend themselves deadly seriously, because at the end of the day you are the one who will save your life. It certainly won’t be the police.

    If that means always keeping a taser on you, or carrying a gun, or pepper spray, or some combination, or perhaps even something else, and keeping that a secret, when you weigh the pros and cons (pros being you survive a bad situation or prevent a bad situation from getting worse, cons being someone might be mad at you for not telling them you’re packing), I’d say that the pros win hands down.

    Finally I would point out in response to comparing the United States and Canada in an attempt to justify gun control as “working” that you’re missing a rather large point, specifically the status of the USA as a nexus for organized criminal activity as the ultimate destination for most controlled substances produced south of the US/Mexico border, and thus the ultimate destination of some very very violent people and the violent people who buy product from them. Consider that Russia, Mexico, and Brazil have higher rates of firearms violence than the USA, but also have way stricter gun control laws. I would propose that what these countries all have in common is that they are nexii for organized criminal activity, not that they have more or less lax gun control laws, and thus Canada, which is notably NOT a nexus for organized criminal activity, is not really a good comparison.

  • user8492

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that women should be anti gun control. Think about it this way, guns are essentially an equalizer in a fight, if you know how to use a gun and you have one, unless the other person also does, you’re going to win. If you don’t have a gun or don’t know how to use it properly and they do, you will lose. Now if neither of you has a gun, the bigger, stronger person will win, which in most cases will be a man over a woman. If you have a 6′ 220 pound man fighting a 5’4″ 150 pound woman, there is no way the smaller person is going to win that fight without a gun. Maybe they have martial arts training or something, but even then if the bigger person has a gun they will lose.

  • Kaya Hamaguchi

    Pro-choice: I choose to arm myself. You choose not to. You want to interfere with my choice; I don’t want to interfere with yours. The fact you use the phrase “common sense” is laughable. Take your self-righteous moral superiority and go about your life. Please stay out of mine.