Amanda Marcotte: Guns hurt women more than they help

2013-02-07T05:45:00Z Amanda Marcotte: Guns hurt women more than they helpAMANDA MARCOTTE | journalist
February 07, 2013 5:45 am  • 

NEW YORK — The Independent Women’s Forum was founded in 1992 out of a coalition of conservative women organized to support now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the face of allegations that he sexually harassed Anita Hill. True to those roots, one of their primary functions since then has been to undermine efforts to end sexual abuse and violence against women. Their long-standing opposition to the Violence Against Women Act no doubt contributed to the GOP finding excuses to avoid reauthorizing it. They’ve organized protests of campus fundraising for anti-violence organizations.

So who else would you turn to if you’re the gun industry and wanting someone to testify in favor of guns, with an eye toward trying to get women to buy more of your product? This is an era where Rush Limbaugh thinks it’s funny to mock kids who don’t want to die. All bets are off when it comes to defending guns.

IWF’s Gayle Trotter testified at the recent Senate hearing on gun safety, and unsurprisingly claimed that guns make women safer. She apparently seems to believe most violence against women resembles Buffy the Vampire Slayer facing down a gang of vampires:

“Guns make women safer,” Trotter argued, because they eliminate the advantage violent criminals might have in size and strength. “Using a firearm with a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a woman would have a fighting chance even against multiple attackers.”

The conservative claim, made by Trotter, that guns are an “equalizer” is about as serious a misrepresentation as you can muster when it comes to violence against women. Most violence against women is perpetrated by men the victim knows in situations that are intimate or social, where guns aren’t usually out. If someone during a domestic violence incident scrambles for the gun, it’s rarely going to be the person who doesn’t want this situation to get more violent. It’s particularly outrageous for Trotter to float this line of nonsense so soon after the headline-grabbing murder of Kasandra Perkins in Kansas City, Mo. Having guns in the house didn’t save her, and if Jovan Belcher hadn’t been able to unload nine bullets into her by simply grabbing a gun on hand, it’s likely she’d still be alive.

The fact of the matter is that more guns put women in danger. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has found that states with more guns have more female violent deaths. Their research also found that batterers who owned guns liked to use them to scare and control their victims, and would often use the gun to threaten the victim, threaten her pets or loved ones, clean them menacingly during arguments, or even fire them to scare her. The Violence Policy Center’s research showed that in 1998, the year they studied, 83 women were killed by an intimate partner for every woman who used a gun in self-defense.

Futures Without Violence compiled the statistics and found that guns generally make domestic violence worse, both by increasing the likelihood of murder and also by creating situations where abuse is more violent, controlling and traumatic.

People convicted of domestic violence aren’t allowed to buy guns, a sensible reaction to the realities of domestic violence and guns. Unfortunately, the private sale loophole makes it easy enough for a man who wants to stalk or control a woman to get the weapon to do so. If Trotter were truly concerned about preventing violence against women, she would be demanding an immediate closure of this loophole that allows batterers to avoid background checks when trying to buy guns. But she’s too busy imagining that women might have to fend off the zombie apocalypse to worry about the real dangers that ordinary women face in this country every day.

Amanda Marcotte is a journalist, opinion writer and author of two books on progressive politics. This column first appeared at Slate.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. NotleftorrightR
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    NotleftorrightR - February 08, 2013 12:11 pm
    The writer clearly states that a gun possessed for self-defense does not protect women , in fact it will put you in greater danger if you have one for self-defense. The writer points out that in "households" with guns women are more likely going to be shot by a abuser. Well of course, is the writer claiming that in a home in which there is active domestic abuse the victim is allowed free and equal access to firearms? No the type slime that uses violence against thier loved one is not going to allow the victim to have access to a gun, that would give the victim power. The abuser needs to maintain power and control over the victim and it is the abuser who controls the guns in the household. The writer knows this because she pointed out that "batterers who owned guns liked to use them to scare and control their victims, and would often use the gun to threaten the victim, threaten her pets or loved ones, clean them menacingly during arguments, or even fire them to scare her"
    The writer is attempting to use data in which the victim is almost always unarmed and the abuser is armed to support a claim that the victim would not be better protected if they were armed. It is like saying it would be safer for the police not to carry guns because some of them get shot by criminals who use guns.
    Now I am not claiming that a women who is living a home with active domestic abuse should go out and get a gun, no under the special circumstances of a home suffering from the horrors of domestic abuse adding a gun to the mix is not a good idea. Domestic violence happens because the victim believes themselves trapped and powerless. Victims do not leave for many reasons, but one of those reasons is because the victim fears death if they do leave.
    The victims of domestic abuse need to seek the help of community resourses and have a plan in place if they are ready to break the bonds of fear and violence, but once those victims are out of that home they should have the option if they are trained and mentally prepared to have a gun for self-defense. Also why should those women who do not live under the horrors of domestic abuse be prohibited from have a gun for self-defense.
    This writer is willing take away the option of real self-defense from women in order to forward a social and political agenda.
  2. Dode-is-a-choad
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    Dode-is-a-choad - February 08, 2013 6:34 am
  3. Dode
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    Dode - February 07, 2013 9:29 pm
    Amanda Marcotte works in New York. Maybe if she ever finds herself on the wrong end of a knife attack, she can call Nanny Bloomberg. I'm sure he'll send his guards over to protect her. Actually, all they'll be able to do is notify someone about all her blood that will need to be cleaned up.
  4. classic
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    classic - February 07, 2013 8:25 pm
    Yep pogo I am sure these are independent. By whose standards. Yours? As for reality. At least we live in reality. We don't live in a world where we think the government can take care of everyone and there is no downside to running up trillions in debt. Dems live in a freaking fantasy world of flowers and gum drops. You are a fool.
  5. CarolASThompson
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    CarolASThompson - February 07, 2013 1:31 pm
    Those claims that more women are killed by guns than used a gun in self-defense are bogus, because neither they nor anyone else could know about all the situations that were resolved when the attacker decided to leave. Nobody got hurt, so it was never reported.
  6. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - February 07, 2013 1:20 pm
    As it happens, what may or may not be good for "women" in general may be the direct opposite for "this woman" in particular, which is why rights adhere to individuals, not groups.
  7. skippie
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    skippie - February 07, 2013 9:47 am
    Pogo, I agree. We must treat women differently than men. They should not have the right to have a gun. Lets also take away their right to vote. Maybe we should simply go back to the days when they were simply property.
  8. POGO
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    POGO - February 07, 2013 8:45 am
    Gayle Trotter, The NRA and the republican party live in a world where they make up their own reality. Research the numbers, Women who live in a home where there is a gun are more likely to be killed during a domestic disturbance than Women who live in a home without a gun. More Women are killed by a gun than save themselves and their children using a gun.
    Stop listening to the monied interest groups that support these ideologues and listen to the independent researchers.
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