NEW YORK – The Independent Womens 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. Theyve organized protests of campus fundraising for anti-violence organizations. So who else would you turn to if youre 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 its funny to mock kids who dont want to die. All bets are off when it comes to defending guns.
IWFs Gayle Trotter testified at last weeks 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 arent usually out. If someone during a domestic violence incident scrambles for the gun, its rarely going to be the person who doesnt want this situation to get more violent. Its 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 didnt save her, and if Jovan Belcher hadnt been able to unload nine bullets into her by simply grabbing a gun on hand, its likely shed 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 Centers 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 arent 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 shes too busy imagining that women might have to fend off the zombie apocalypse to worry about the real dangers ordinary women face every day.