“Since the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student last December there are reports of an upsurge in the number of women applying for gun licences,” Alice Arnold at telegraph.co.uk breathlessly reports. “Many of the applicants are professional women who want to take responsibility for their own safety because the police have failed to protect them.” Good news, right? Defenseless women tool-up, evil men put their tools away and/or face the consequences. Ms. Arnold’s on board with armed self-defense for women because A) it works and B) she’s writes for the The Telegraph (the UK’s only conservative newspaper). If only . . .
“Is arming yourself against rape a realistic and viable defence?” Ms. Arnold wonders, momentarily entertaining the idea that a woman facing a rapist or rapists would be better off with a firearm than not. And then it’s gone . . .
. . . research suggests that this is not the case. Women are more likely to be on the receiving end than pulling the trigger and the presence of a gun increases the chances of homicide. In the US every time a woman used a handgun to kill a stranger in self defence, over 300 other women were murdered with a handgun. The fact is a gun is far more likely to be used against the woman than used for her protection.
Ms. Arnold’a assertion—that the number of women gunned down by men is greater than the number of women who gun down a stranger in self-defense—singularly, spectacularly fails to consider the number of women who successfully defend themselves with a gun without firing a shot.
It’s such a glaring omission one wonders if it’s intentional (perish the thought). Equally, her “fact” excludes the number of women who shoot and kill someone they know in self-defense—a far more likely scenario than encountering a random rapist or roving rapist gang.
Ms. Arnold’s opening salvo also ignores a fundamental issue raised by women carrying guns in general and Indian women buying guns in specific: deterrence. How many potential rapists are or will be deterred by the possibility of encountering an armed woman?
Here’s another one: how many of those 300 women had access to a firearm? How many of them would not have been murdered if they’d had a gun?
It is also the case that forcible rape rates are highest in gun friendly states. You are seven times more likely to meet a rape victim in North Dakota, which has relatively relaxed gun laws, than in New York where guns are heavily restricted.
census.gov‘s 2009 stats confirm a higher rate of forcible rape in Nebraska than New York (35.5 per 100k vs. 13.2 per 100k). And yet correlation doesn’t equal causation—especially when there are so many unknown variables.
How many Nebraska women carry guns? How many of the rape victims carried a gun? What are the rape reporting rates in the two states?
Never mind. Tell you what: let’s drop stats and get the heart of her argument, as Ms. Arnold does when she’s exhausted her dubious data dump.
So let’s imagine you have kitted yourself out with your pink handgun, matching shoes and handbag. Would you actually be able to fire it? Apparently it’s not that easy. You need a day’s course at least in order to be able to handle it and fire with any degree of accuracy. Even then, to have a chance of hitting your target you need to be at very close range…a matter of a couple of yards.
I don’t mean to be facetious but the very idea of carrying a gun terrifies me. I would not feel safer with a lethal weapon on my person. I would feel scared. Scared that that gun would be used against me. Scared that it might go off accidentally. Scared that any violence might be escalated because of its presence.
And there you have it: insight into the mind of a gun grabber. At the end of the proverbial English day, facts have nothing to do with it. It’s all about feelings. Specifically, the feelings of a writer wants to disarm civilians because she’s uncomfortable with guns.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Ms. Arnold’s a hoplophobe. She was never really interested in forming a rational, coherent argument for keeping guns out of the hands of women who fear for their safety. She started with the idea that guns are scary bad and then built a case, a house of cards if you will, around her own ignorance, fear and prejudice.
The problem in India will not be solved by women arming themselves. Yes some women have successfully defended themselves using firearms, but weapons are more likely to provide an illusion of security than the reality of it. Indeed carrying a weapon and falsely ‘feeling’ safe may put women in more danger than before.
What needs to happen is a change of attitude to the crime and change of culture. The hideous and tragic case in Delhi highlighted that fact. In too many cases of sexual crimes against women, it is bizarrely and wrongly women who are asked to change their behaviour. It is suggested we dress more modestly, avoid certain areas or behave more demurely. Let’s not add ‘carry a gun’ to that list.
The idea that carrying a gun increases a women’s situational awareness doesn’t occur to Ms. Arnold. Self-defense as self-empowerment? Her fear and political correctness ensure that the scribe can’t entertain the concept. It’s not our job to protect ourselves. Men must change. Society must change.
You might say this kind of thinking indicates a mental disorder, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Except to say you’re right.