Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Women and Guns

On my way to FMF this morning, flipping through the Express, I came across the article “Bullet, Gun Sales on Record Pace.” According to the article, firearm sales skyrocketed around the time Obama was sworn into office.

Last year alone, bullet sales at US gun shops soared to the equivalent of about 38 bullets PER PERSON. (I know I didn't buy any, so I'm assuming someone is more than making up for me....) When I looked around me, I realized that if every person on the crowded metro represented 38 bullets, if there were about 300 people on the train, we'd have a collective 11,400 bullets! Wow.

From a feminist prospective, what does all of this mean ? What is the relationship like between women and guns?

In 2005, Amnesty International released a 76-page report in in conjunction with the International Action Network on Small Arms, and Oxfam International called “The Impact of Guns On Women’s Lives.” The report examines issues like armed violence against women in the home, gangs, gun use by gangs, and gender. Click here to check it out!

If you don’t have time to peruse all 76 pages, here are a few highlights:

· Access to firearms
increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instance where there are no weapons, according to a recent study. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. (Family Violence Prevention Fund Fact Sheet)

· In 2002,
54% of female homicide victims were shot and killed with a gun. (Family Violence Prevention Fund Fact Sheet)

· Having
a gun in the home increases the overall risk of someone in the household being murdered by 41%; but for women in particular the risk was nearly tripled (an increase of 272 percent) (“Impact of Guns On Women’s Lives”)

· Between 1995, when Canada tightened its gun laws, and 2003, the overall gun murder rate dropped by 15%, while the
gun homicide rate for women dropped by 40% (“Impact of Guns on Women’s Lives”)

The Chicago CBS 2 News site recently discussed the increasing number of women who own guns. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 48%, almost half, of people taking their first handgun seminars this year are women. Women quoted in the article say that they believe having a gun will protect them against being raped or mugged. Generally speaking, women who do own guns are more responsible with them than men; Department of Justice figures show that between 1976 and 2005, 91.3 percent of gun homicides were committed by men, and only 8.7 by women.

What do you think? Are guns worth the risk?

Photo Credit: Barjack from flickr.com


Queue said...

I'm probably an outlier on this one, but I think there's a difference between guns and gun violence. Guns are extremely dangerous, and should only be used by people who are trained and have undergone a thorough background check.

Personally, I wish I had one, or at least knew how to use one. (The latter would obviously be a prereq for the former.) I'm for much tighter regulations on who can purchase/own them, but for fewer on where they can be carried by those who have been determined qualified.

I guess when it comes down to it, owning a gun makes some women feel safer and is an act of empowerment. For others, it makes them feel less safe in a world that can already understandably make them fearful. For those who feel safer owning one, they are worth it. For those who don't feel as safe, they aren't.

"Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself." - Gloria Steinem

Bonnie said...

Great post! I've got to disagree with the comment before me, but I'm so glad you posted this. Interesting to see how two issues that I care about are so related.

Cori said...


Loved your post! Way to sum up such a serious culture issue!

(Like Gloria Steinem told us to do, I'm signing off my email with:)No home is safe with a gun,