USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Though this isn’t exactly another series (like How We’re Taught About Guns), one thought leads to another about women and guns. Last week I reviewed anti-gun propaganda directed especially at women, as well as some corrective perspectives by women themselves in the firearms community.
Our usual readers probably agree that the healthy, rational approach to guns is to acquire sufficient acquaintance and skill to use them safely. But what explains why so many women hate guns and reject gun ownership as some kind of evil?
Some are the classic “low-information” types. That is, they just don’t know the facts, and may not have encountered those who do and who would model confident behavior with firearms.
Some are afraid of guns because of their association as weapons with violence. Hoplophobia itself never killed anyone, but it’s probably gotten some people killed. Even given the opportunity to learn, someone phobic can’t face her fear without slow and careful acclimatization.
Women who have been victimized by threats or assault using firearms have good reason for post-traumatic fears. But most women who are afraid of guns have no bad personal experiences of them.
They are more likely to share an aversion to things remindful of violence that goes along with their acculturated roles as caretakers and nurturers, rather than as protectors and defenders. (Even then, nothing is more dangerous than a mother bear protecting her cubs!)
There are even some women who have taken opportunities to learn, who have gone shooting with trusted mentors, who may even own a weapon themselves. Some of them, particularly the more modern ‘liberal’ sort, still may become anti-gun and anti-gun owner.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is New York’s junior senator. She was chosen to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s term, and has since won re-election herself. She came from a rural upstate county, and served as its Congresswoman before being elevated to the Senate. Her constituents were outdoorspeople, hunters and shooters and she was one of them, with her own shotgun and a platform backing the Second Amendment.
But after becoming one of our New York Senators (the other is Charles Schumer-D), she became more and more supportive of gun control. Besides the influence of mentors Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, she has also acknowledged feeling a duty to reflect more of downstate New York’s attitudes about guns. But most of all she describes the influence of her own reaction as a mother to shootings of children like at Sandy Hook: “meeting these families devastated me, broke my heart.”
Speaking of Hillary (and who can avoid that this year), she also flipped on guns. After the Bill Clinton era debacles of the loss of Congress to Republicans in 1994 and of the presidency in 2000, Democrats suppressed their anti-gun rhetoric. So did Hillary, running in 2008 on the pro-gun side of Barack Obama, who also didn’t breathe a word of his anti-gun agenda until his second term.
But now the Democrat calculation seems to be that the party might as well embrace gun control since no one believes its pro-gun rights claims anyway. This is especially popular among its core urban liberal and minority base. Clinton seems to be playing this card to distinguish herself from the slightly less confiscatory Bernie Sanders. And she plays it differently depending on where she is campaigning.
Daughter Chelsea is helping in the fight to regain the family crown with her call for “forcible gun control.” As a mother now, she “can’t even imagine that living horror and tragedy” of Sandy Hook parents, though invites us to try.
Then there is Shannon Watts, the leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (part of the Michael Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety). As a former long-time communications and public relations specialist for major corporations, she knows what sells. She invites us to join with her to fight “the public health crisis” of “gun violence” and to oppose “those who stand to profit from easy access to guns” (manufacturers and the NRA). She’s sure about “stronger, sensible gun laws and policies that will protect our children”.
As with the entire anti-gun lobby, she “supports the Second Amendment” by emotionally castigating the American right to be armed with twisted data (e.g., “Nearly eight American children are shot and killed every day.” FALSE) There were only 1,085 homicides altogether of children under 18 in the United States during 2014, according to FBI statistics, not 2,900.
Children die of accidents and suicide with firearms, too. But these aren’t anything like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that she says inspired her and which she wants us associate with any gun use.
The obvious common element for these driven women is their emotional messaging. It’s a 21st century gun-blaming version of “Remember the Alamo!”—not as failure but as an image of courage. Women like Mrs. Clinton who remind other women that “guns that end up committing crimes” are trying to create revulsion to the instrument. Eliciting an emotional response in order to stimulate action is a long-used political ploy, especially when the facts don’t fall your way as for the anti-gun movement.
Doing this can promote identification with the party and its candidates who promote the idea that banning guns will end violence. The more that people fear, the stronger becomes their attachment to those who claim to be able to ensure their safety.
But women can’t be stereotyped as effectively as they must believe. More and more, they see the reality of firearms as tools for them to use to combat violence and with which to make themselves and their world safer. Their primary interest is in protection, though many are trying the shooting sports too. And women are catering to women in accessories designed especially for their bodies and lifestyles.
These women don’t want to have to depend on others for their safety from danger. Not from strangers, not from family. They know how little restraining orders mean. They’ve grown confident in their ability to handle potentially lethal power. They know that they and their families are better off taking realistic steps to live in the real world.
They have no desire to get lost in a fairy tale where it takes a prince or a government representative, no matter how desirable, to rescue them. They intend to write their own stories to live out themselves.
— Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation. www.drgo.us