Global Anti-Gun Effort is Disarming

I'm currently in Colbert, GA. The house I sit in as I write this post has over ten guns in itsome are hunting rifles and others are handgunsand both my mother and step-father keep a handgun in their possession at all times.... in Colbert, GA. The population here is 488.

I am not a fan of guns, but I've long since given up trying to convince my Southern working class family to part with their weapons. Hunting is simply a part of life around these parts; in fact, the freezer of this house is stuffed with venison that was procured with the aid of a bullet or two. In many ways, I respect hunters. As a vegetarian who is ethically opposed to eating meat largely because I don't support factory farming and the detrimental effects the industry has on the environment, I take some pride in knowing that my familyalbeit, in their own waydoesn't support it either. Their five acres of land is a veritable farm with over thirty chickens, seven goats (and a couple more on the way), five dogs, three cats, and a quarter-horse. In the past they've been known to have a hog or two as well, though what is left of those hogs is in the freezer too.

My point is that when it comes to practical usage, though I don't like guns, I understand why some folks find them necessary. And I feel conflicted when I come across a statement like this: Women are three times more likely to die violently if there is a gun in the house. Or this: The greatest risk of gun violence to women around the world is not on the streets, or the battlefield, but in their own homes. Gun violence is a feminist issue.

During this year's Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence, 30 events took place from Argentina to India to Zambia that aim to "develop an international network of advocates for women's rights, who are committed to producing social change and curbing armed domestic violence," particularly through taking "guns out of the hands of actual or potential abusers." In Kathmandu, Nepal, sixty-one cyclists made the Nepal TV news as they rode through the streets of the capital city delivering a memo to each political party that urged them to take steps to prevent domestic violence committed with guns. A group called Blue Veins in Pakistan also received substantial media attention from over twelve outlets by pasting posters (shown above) around the North West Frontier Province.

These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg. From a vigil in London to a meeting of religious leaders in Kenya to distributing leaflets to fathers in Colombia, we should celebrate the magnitude of this well-coordinated effort by and for women, and find ways to support this global project in our own neighborhoods and cities.

Maybe it's time I renewed my own effort to convince my family that having a handgun perpetually at one's fingertips isn't the same as having a rifle available for hunting deer. Change is a continual process, not a momentous event.

by Mandy Van Deven
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24 Comments Have Been Posted

From what you describe....

...your family sounds very responsible in it's gun ownership. Why would it be necessary or even your business to tell them not to own guns? Unless they are abusers or potential abusers that the above events seem to target?

Every woman in my family owns a gun for self protection. We're not hunters, don't shoot for sport, but don't want to rely on anyone else for our protection. There have been breakins in my neighborhood, and my sister was threatened by an ex-boyfriend. Don't have a problem with getting guns out of the wrong hands, but I wouldn't want someone to intrude on my privacy (and rights) by trying to convince me not to have one.

Every female I know that has gone shooting felt like it was a very empowering experience. Maybe if no men had guns we'd be willing to relinquish ours but that is an impossibility so I'll keep mine. Besides, taking one weapon out of a man's hand hardly solves domestic abuse...maybe if we took away knives too and cut off fists.

well let me be the first...

female you know who has shot a gun and does NOT feel it is an empowering experience. To me, firing a gun hits home the stark reality that killing another person is technically quite easy, and that, to me, feels terrifying. I don't want to be responsible for causing death, whether it is another person or an animal. (You read the part in the post about me being a vegetarian, right?) That's not a judgement against you. It's simply a statement of my own preference.

Taking a gun out of people's hands won't stop domestic violence, but it does make it more likely that the victim will survive an attack if the perpetrator decides to use a weapon.

I do believe in self-defense, though I don't think a gun is the best (or even a necessary) way for one to protect oneself. I do, however, believe that it is my responsibility for my own safety, and the safety of those I care about, to advocate against small arms proliferation. The fact that guns don't only affect gun owners makes it my business; it's a community issue, not an individual one, when it affects the entire community.

The problem with arguing that we should keep guns out of the "wrong hands" is that there is no way for gun sellers (or other citizens) to know whose hands are the "wrong hands", and gun sellers have an economic incentive to turn a blind eye to whose hands are "wrong" anyhow. IMHO, anyone who is willing to kill another human being is the "wrong" person to own a gun.

I guess self-defense is subjective...

...I don't know what self-defense you prefer but I'm totally willing to kill someone that breaks into my house and/or threatens me with violence. I'd prefer to do it with some distance between myself and the perpetrator.

I see a community threatened if good people, like your family members, have their guns taken away because they are responsible and do abide by the law, and are then prey to the criminals who will continue to have guns because...hello?...they're criminals (they're not too into following laws and stuff).

You're entitled to your opinion as long as it doesn't encroach on my rights. I also am a vegetarian and abhor hunting but I'm not calling for hunting to cease and meat-eating to end - even if heart disease is a community issue that affects us all.

how about...

we address the root causes of poverty and other social issues that create criminals instead of just picking people off one by one?

And your hear disease analogy doesn't hold water. Your having heart because you choose to eat meat disease doesn't effect my health. But your owning a gun puts me at risk.

Let's be realistic...

....the only way me having a gun affects you is if you're a rapist trying to break into my house. Pardon me if I don't think it's realistic for me to compassionately talk myself out of being raped. I have a feeling my gun would be more convincing.

I really don't have a huge problem w/enacting some regulation to keep guns out of abusers hands (if that's possible, I don't know). I was specifically, however, speaking to the idea that it's any of your concern if RESPONSIBLE LAW-ABIDING people have guns in the privacy of their own homes for self-protection or otherwise. Get off their backs and go to work on curing those poor criminals.

then perhaps...

the point of the post was lost on you. It was about praising the efforts of women around the globe who advocate that those who are <i>not</i> responsible law abiding citizens (i.e., men who abuse women). If you don't have a problem with enacting that type of regulation then what's your beef?

My family and I respect each other. I rib them for owning so many unnecessary guns, and they rib me for opting out of the delicious spicy sausage in their freezer. That's just how we do. We call it love.

And yes, I do work to put an end to the root causes of violence. I would think that would be seen as praiseworthy by someone who is so concerned with their own safety.

I would be willing to kill

I would be willing to kill someone in self-defense or in defense of my family. And I believe that criminals will always have access to guns. Why should law- abiding citizens be the ones to lose their rights?

In your opinion, guns are not the best way to defend oneself. Why do you feel this way? You may not feel comfortable with a gun, and may hesitate to shoot someone who would hurt you, but I do not. You are free to choose a method of self-defense that suits you. I choose to be armed.

Domestic violence does need to be addressed, and certainly violence committed with guns is particularly heinous. But blaming guns is akin to blaming alcohol for domestic violence. Both need to be used responsibly, but to ban either just sends it underground. Measures such as more complete background checks to make gun purchases, (and more stringent requirements for hand-gun ownership), better outreach programs for victims, and stricter penalties for making threats with a gun. How many victims do you think were threatened on multiple occasions before it escalated into a shooting?


Why should the patriarchal government have a monopoly on the means of violence? Remember, the first ever gun law was enacted to deny black people the means of defending themselves. All other gun laws have been the democratization of this principle of disempowerment and the creation of a false reliance on government "protection."

Gun Owner FOR Gun Control

Well, honey, you stepped into the mess with this topic, didn't you? Every nut out there who Googles guns, gun rights, blah, blah so they can jump to the defense of their gravely misunderstood Constitutional rights is going to try to rip off your head and spit down your neck on this one. So I thought I'd lend you a little support here.

I own guns. Three of 'em, in fact. All handguns. And I believe absolutely in gun control. I also see absolutely no conflict there. We can't drink liquor or buy a car until we are of a certain age, and we have to pass a test to get our drivers' licenses. We can lose our licenses if we screw up, and our cars can be seized if we use them in a crime. Why should guns be any different? Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. Gun ownership should be, too.

I don't often carry for self-defense, but there have been two times in my life when I dearly wished I had a gun on me, and couldn't get to mine fast enough! I have fired a number of weapons including shotguns and an M-16 carbine, but I do not find it empowering in the least. In fact, despite my lifelong familiarity with guns, I still find them a little scary.

And as far as the self defense thing goes, women who are raped, assaulted, and/or killed are more likely to be attacked by their fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands in their homes than by a stranger on the street. And I sure as hell do not advocate arming women to prevent spousal abuse: Two people in an OK-Corral-type shoot-out in the privacy of their own home does not strike me as a particularly safe situation.

My Nigel is like your family. Hunts. Buys enough guns to stock a medium-sized National Guard armory. Reads gun magazines. Raving Right-to-Bear-Arms lunatic. One-issue voter. I do not hunt, myself. I could, if I had to, but I do not enjoy it. I see no sport in killing unarmed and beautiful wild animals/birds. Like you, I have given up trying to convert him to any kind of sensible political position on guns. I am, however, thinking of converting myself to vegetarianism (other than the venison in the freezer, of course) for the same reasons. Factory farming turns my stomach.

me? step into a mess?

and here i thought i was diving headfirst into one. LOL!

Your comments reflect the same nuance I wrote in my post. I don't think gun ownership is a simple issue, and I don't think popular arguments tend to address the complexities, like the difference between handguns and rifles or the ways the self-defense argument doesn't hold up. Can I ask why you own handguns? Just curious.

I completely agree with you that more rigorous regulations for gun ownership are necessary. To me it's not an issue of whether people have guns or not (though I prefer they not). It's an issue of whether people use them for purposes that make sense (like hunting for the purpose of eating what you kill). What you're saying about women's self-defense is absolutely right. Perhaps I should have written that women who own guns should be prepared to kill their fathers, brothers, boyfriends, partners, and husbands if they see it as a means of self-defense. I also think it's important to consider that killing one's attacker still has very serious legal consequences; simply being attacked is not a valid legal excuse for killing another person, so using a gun in self-defense can land you in jail. (There are many battered women in jail for life who can attest to this.)

Perhaps folks like you and I <i>should</i> weigh in on these issues more often, not with the intention of convincing the pro-gun extremists to disarm, but with the intention of finding others who, like us, tend not to be heard in the debate.

By the way, Mandy, I totally

By the way, Mandy, I totally agree that hunting is so much better than raising animals simply for the slaughter. And I agree that guns should primarily be distributed to those who can use them safely and practically. But I do think that stricter laws would prevent gun use in domestic violence without compromising the Constitutional rights of law-abiding, non-abusive citizens.
My mother and I decided not to have a gun in our house for a few tenative reasons: if you're in a situation of domestic violence, you need to be prepared to shoot and perhaps kill your attacker, which could be someone you care about regardless of the attack; face potential jailtime for using excessive force; accidentally shooting a loved one instead of an intruder; and simply being morally prepared for the chance of taking another person's life.
In Illinois, those convicted of domestic violence must surrender their firearms or face additional jail time. In most cases, this would not prevent most domestic violence or gun use in domestic violence, but it is a start. I would suggest additional (psychological) screening to be required prior to obtaining a licence and making the penalties for violent crimes more severe.
I just don't think that disarming law-abiding citizens is the right way to go.

I totally agree...

that there needs to be some sort of middle ground whereby law-abiding citizens (armed and unarmed) feel both safe and as though they are able to live a life of self-determination. The Illinois law is a good example of middle ground, as as the Disarm Domestic Violence Campaign I wrote about in the original post. Thanks for shining some more light, Sara!

I also grew up in a part of

I also grew up in a part of the world (central PA) where people feel it is their right to own guns. My people aren't quite as armed to the teeth as your folks, Mandy, but most families own at least one gun and most hunt. Many also play active roles in conservation. Arguably, they do this for the selfish reason of maintaining the animals and places where they hunt, but in a way that is slightly contradictory, they do love animals and nature. Although I completed hunter safety training, I struggle with the idea that people have the "right" to own guns and hunt. I don't think that's what the framers of the constition had in mind, and the idea that it's your right to take somone's life in place of your own is deeply twisted on a personal ethical level.

The racial dynamics of the gun ownership debate are fascinating to me, as well. I think the image of the "good gun owner" is a white, nonurban, working class person. In central PA, however, I've heard the police are as apprehensive about rural gun owners as they are of urban gun owners. Although there is more crime in places like Johnstown or Altoona, PA and more people of color, fewer people own guns. The fear of being shot while responding to a domestic violence call, for example, in the rural white parts of the state is a reality that people don't often think about when they discuss who should and shouldn't have access to guns.

It's important to me to make allies with gun owners who agree that an armed world will not make us safer. My pops kept his rifle at my grandparents' house when we were kids, and always believed that if guns were outlawed to protect people from gun violence, then he could easily give up hunting. Actually, he'd probably take up bow hunting. Afterall, you can take the guns out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the country, right?

Thanks for adding...

information about PA into the equation, particularly as it pertains to race and gun ownership. It's an interesting countering of the stereotypical urban armed robber/rapist depiction that is based in the ingrained racism prevalent in entertainment and news media. And I love your last sentence! Brilliantly funny! And very true!

A Fundamental Point Must Be Made

I feel I must insert another, completely seperate, point of dissention into this discussion. The thrust of this discussion is focused on gun regulation, the rights of gun owners, etcetera, and it is heartening to see so many people participating in important issues of safety and legislation. But we are missing out on the most important point.

It is NEVER acceptable to kill. It is NEVER acceptable to act in violence towards another.

I say this fully aware of brewing counter arguments about self-defense and protecting loved ones and so on. I say this with the conviction of a committed pacifist who sees non-violence as more than simply voting for anti-war candidates, but as a process of rooting out ALL causes of violence and oppression from my own life. I say this as someone who has prayed, who does pray, that if faced with the choice between dying, and living by taking another's life, that I would have the courage to die for peace. I don't know for certain that I would. As the saying goes, "we are seekers, not saints," but I hope, and I really do pray, that I would have that strength.

Guns kill. A handgun is not a hunting rifle. It's purpose, the whole reason for its existence, is to act out violence on human flesh. A machine gun would allow you to take down a deer for dinner, but that's not what it's made for. We, as a society, as an international human body, need to recognize that violence in all its forms is unacceptable, and we need to recognize the role that guns play in this dynamic and act accordingly.
Legislation and group action aimed at reducing gun violence in domestic setting is awesome. It is also just the tiniest tip of the enormous iceberg. There is so much work left to be done.

What you all seem to be missing

There will always be people who will try to force their desires, their will on others who are weaker than they. That is an inescapable fact, and no amount of legislation anywhere will change it. For discussion's sake, let's term these people "bullies".

When a male bully breaks into a home, with the intent to rape the female resident(s), the handgun is a potential equalizer. She cannot (generally) go toe to toe with him in unarmed combat. There is too much disparity between the two genders. The handgun gives her a tool that allows her a more equal footing, where she may prevail. Remember, it is her home. She did not initiate the situation. However, she should be allowed the ability to defend herself on as equal a footing as possible. The bully can literally kill her with his bare hands. The handgun gives her the ability to defend against such an assault.

When a person (male or female) uses a gun in self-defense, the attitude is not necessarily "shoot to kill". It should be "shoot to stop the attack". If a bullet hits the bully's hand and he drops to the floor in pain screaming "don't shoot, I give up", then the gun has done it's job (just don't let down your guard till the cops show up). If, instead, a bullet hits the bully in the chest and he drops to the floor and dies of the wound, well, same result. The gun was used to stop the attack, and was used successfully. That the bully died as a result is really the responsibility of the bully. If he hadn't broken in to the home to force his will on someone who was otherwise unwilling to cooperate with his desires he would be fine.

"...I say this as someone

"...I say this as someone who has prayed, who does pray, that if faced with the choice between dying, and living by taking another's life, that I would have the courage to die for peace. ..."

If faced with that choice, the real choice will be whether you, a good, loving, decent human being will continue to contribute to society the following day or whether an evil, sociopathic predator will continue preying on innocent victims. Which outcome is really preferable? The death of the predator or the death of yourself and all of the following innocent victims in the days and years to come until someone does end, by violence, that criminal's reign?

It is difficult to bring oneself to kill another human being even in the face of one's own demise. But don't pretend that allowing the good to die and the evil to live is some kind of morally superior act. It is an act, ultimately, of cowardice and society is worse off for it.

Pacifism is the Ultimate Antisocial Act

"...I say this as someone who has prayed, who does pray, that if faced with the choice between dying, and living by taking another's life, that I would have the courage to die for peace. ..."

If faced with that choice, the real choice will be whether you, a good, loving, decent human being will continue to contribute to society the following day or whether an evil, sociopathic predator will continue preying on innocent victims. Which outcome is really preferable? The death of the predator or the death of yourself and all of the following innocent victims in the days and years to come until someone does end, by violence, that criminal's reign?

It is difficult to bring oneself to kill another human being even in the face of one's own demise. But don't pretend that allowing the good to die and the evil to live is some kind of morally superior act. It is an act, ultimately, of cowardice and society is worse off for it.

Bre said: "It is NEVER

Bre said: "It is NEVER acceptable to kill. It is NEVER acceptable to act in violence towards another."

I cannot disagree with this more strongly.

Please take the time to read these excellent pieces about the difference between predatory and protective violence:

This is just one Neanderthal's opinion...

....but I'd think nothing stops an abuser quite like a sucking chest wound. This "effecting social change" is all fine and good, but I don't see why <strike>victim disarmament</strike> gun control has to be a part of that. For all too many battered girlfriends and wives, that "social change" isn't going to come fast enough.

"It is NEVER acceptable to kill. It is NEVER acceptable to act in violence towards another."
It truly is one of the greatest mysteries of in the history of mankind as to how that attitude has survived 10,000 years of natural selection.
As for "misunderstood Constitutional rights," no matter what that document might say, no matter how that document might be (mis)interpreted by authoritarian control freaks, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms -- as an integral part of the human right of self-defense -- is completely independent of it. Or, as libertarian writer L. Neil Smith put it:
"The freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right -- subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility."

My life, my choice.

Setting aside the constitution and anecdotes about crime, police, government, et. My life and body belong to ME. As long as I don't intrude on someone elses life and body, (which belong to THEM), I have a right to my life, personal space and body. If being armed with anything from wild screetching, mad-monkey kung-fu to a serviceable weapon is required sometimes to enforce my right to my body and life, it is MY choice. When I am older and infirm, I STILL have a right to my life and body and if I choose to possess some instrument to enable that right it's MY CHOICE.

I choose to be neither servant nor slave.

You feel that you couldn't take a life at gunpoint.

I understand that.
What you and every gun grabber fails to understand.
Is that you share the responsibility for every life lost at the hands of a robber, rapist, murderer.

By any gun restriction you help pass, you help a criminal in his efforts.
It's not your finger on the trigger, but you share the responsibility for any life lost or harmed at the hands of a criminal .

Every sign that says No Guns Allowed, might as well say Please Rape, Rob, and Murder our patrons......

As far as I'm concerned, you are as guilty of the Luby's Cafeteria Murders as the man who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

In the words of John Wayne "Put the Swastika back on, you earned it!"

BRE'S pacifism

Bre's pacifism is her own personal choice. Just as it is our personal choice to choose to arm ourselves and protect our lives. Any mother that choses to allow herself to be killed and not try to protect her children is against all biological programming to nuture and protect our babies.

However her own pacifism for herself is OK, There are many humans that are capable of taking another life and it is acceptable to kill in defense. But society is better with both defenders and the pacifists. The only problem is that people die and civilization falls when the pacifists hamstring the defenders.

Our civilization is sufficiletly strong enough to survive her pacifism and some people are not capable of violence and they should not be forced to have a gun.

Those of us that are capable of violence in protection of ourselves and our loved ones will continue to do so.

Bre's thinking would strip society of police protection and am sure that she does not feel her pacifism extends to eliminating police. Bre should think about the logical extension that is is never all right to commit violence and what that would mean without police and civil order.

If she accepts the necessity of police that she should also accept the neccesity for others to defend themdelves even if her own personal choice is not to defend herself. Hopefully she has a husband that would protect her and her children so she can continue to be a pacifist.

Considering that yesterday

Considering that yesterday was the annniversity of an event that took a lot of innocent lives I would like to remind Bre that the passengers of flight 93 decided to not allow monsters to use them to perpetuate a crime against others and use the plane to crash into other buildings and took the plane down and sacrificed their own lives. That is heroism.

That was the antithesis of pacifism and that was a good action.

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