Last week, at a hearing on gun safety legislation, a witness from an anti-feminist group was brought forth to argue that the US’s current gun laws are a boon to women’s rights. Women, witness Gayle Trotter said, need AR-15s because, “They have good handling. They’re light. They’re easy for women to hold… And the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals.”
It turns out that Trotter couldn’t be more wrong.
Women don’t have peace of mind when it comes to guns in the home. In fact, a recent poll commissioned by the Women’s Donor Network shows the opposite. Sixty four percent of women think that tighter gun laws will help lower the overall level of violence in the United States.
But perhaps Trotter was only looking at the concerns of Republican women, who have the lowest levels of support for tighter gun restrictions. Only 44 percent of them believe that gun laws would make the US safer. On the other hand, low-income women and women of color are the most likely to support tighter restrictions on firearms. A full 86 percent of African American women think gun laws could reduce violence, and 77 percent of Hispanic women agree.
Women, in actuality, face heightened concerns of domestic violence with a gun in the home, since a woman is 12 times more likely to die in a domestic dispute if a gun is involved. They also tend to be the primary caretakers of children, and fear for their children’s safety.
Whether or not a gun is easy to carry and looks nice might not be the right question for Trotter to think about when she considers a woman’s support of gun laws. Rather, she might want to ask: When there is relatively little regulation of firearms, is there a real, increased threat of violence for women?