I'm currently in Colbert, GA. The house I sit in as I write this post has over ten guns in it—some are hunting rifles and others are handguns—and 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 family—albeit, in their own way—doesn'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.