Posted by: Donna
It’s pretty blatant here.
This is nothing more than gun manufacturers tapping into action movie hero fantasies to sell more guns. The woman-uses-gun-to-defend-herself-against-marauder scenario assumes a white woman attacked on the street, or in her home or car, by a villain. She is able to access her gun readily to shoot her attacker. He either dies or doesn’t but when the cops show up she is, of course, free to go since she was obviously an innocent woman protecting herself from a bad, bad, man. this happens in movies and TV so often that a lot of people have internalized the belief that this is exactly how it would play out.
In real life, though, most of the violence perpetrated against women is by intimate partners or acquaintances. And in real life, the criminal justice system isn’t always kind to domestic violence and rape victims who defend themselves with firearms, particularly if they are poor, minority, or otherwise marginalized. Assuming they are able to get to the gun and shoot their violent spouse or date rapist, most women in those situations could not expect the automatic presumption of innocence when the cops arrive. Moreover, the gun fantasy places the burden on women of instantaneously and precisely assessing the exact threat they are under to determine if shooting is warranted, which is something that trained police officers often get wrong. My guess is that the vast majority of people who buy into it have never been at the receiving end of domestic violence or sexual assault. It doesn’t usually happen that he announces he’s about to choke you or rape you and gives you a 20 second head start. Stuff tends to go down rather quickly. Chances are a gun won’t help you at all.
Overall, the author concludes the same thing applies to homicides and suicides: people regularly get involved in violence, and the presence of a gun is likely to elevate that to fatal levels. This is especially true for women. In a study of three metropolitan counties that is cited by the review, “Most of the women were murdered by a spouse, a lover, or a close relative, and the increased risk for homicide from having a gun in the home was attributable to these homicides.” In the case of battered women, lethal assaults were 2.7 times more likely to occur if a gun was present in the house; no protective effect of the gun was found.
None of this is to suggest that an individual woman shouldn’t make the decision to get a gun for personal protection if that’s what she wants to do. What I take issue with is the implication that women who choose not to get a gun, for whatever reason, are to blame if someone is violent toward them. Victim blaming sucks. Don’t do it and don’t fall for it.
Leave a comment