A Nevada lawmaker is defending her recent assertion that “young, hot little girls on campus” need to be armed with guns to prevent themselves from being raped, saying that every citizen should “have the right to defend him or herself from sexual assault.”
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore’s initial comments were published in the New York Times on Wednesday. The lawmaker was defending her sponsorship of a bill that would allow college students to carry concealed firearms, saying that expanding students’ right to have hidden guns will help address the sexual assault crisis.
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Fiore told the newspaper. “The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
After that quote was published, the Assemblywoman attempted to clarify her statements — without backing down from her initial point. “That may not be the most eloquent way to phrase it,” she acknowledged in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon. “However, I stand wholeheartedly by that sentiment because I want every citizen, whether they’re on a college campus or not, to have the right to defend him or herself from sexual assault.”
Gun enthusiasts have eagerly capitalized on the recent attention to the rate of sexual assaults on college campuses to push their agenda. They typically argue that concealed carry is a women’s issue because victims need to be armed to protect themselves from potential assailants. It’s one of several ways that firearm proponents have attempted to rebrand to appeal to a female base, and one of many ways that women are told to take steps to prevent their own rapes.
“The gun lobby has seized on this tactic, this subject of sexual assault. It resonates with lawmakers,” Andy Pelosi, the executive director of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, told the New York Times in the same article that included Fiore’s comments.
University presidents, college students, and domestic violence experts are all opposed to the idea of allowing concealed weapons on school grounds. They point out that it’s an ineffective policy because of the nature of campus violence; most assaults take place under the influence of alcohol, and the majority don’t occur between strangers. It’s unclear how it would help to add a gun into that equation. “Are you going to be willing to shoot the person that is your friend?” one rape counselor in Indiana pointed out during a discussion over a similar proposed bill there.
Plus, there’s a lot of empirical evidence suggesting that firearms and sexual abusers are a deadly mix. Women are more likely to be shot and killed by an abusive partner than the other way around. Even if domestic violence victims buy their own gun for their protection, it’s not uncommon for it to be used against them.
Fiore is a fierce supporter of gun rights who has referred to herself as a “conservative, Catholic, gun-toting, second amendment, strong-ass woman” and as “someone that carries a firearm on me like my panties and bra.” She has acknowledged that she carries her firearm even in gun-free zones. Fiore has also been a vocal supporter of Cliven Bundy, the right-wing rancher whose stand-off with the federal government attracted armed militia members to Nevada last spring.