Regardless of what precipitates it, any gun debate will eventually fire up to encompass almost every aspect of firearms. This is just how it shakes out and how it will continue to shake out.
This time around, for example, a school shooting has sparked a debate about how women can use a firearm to defend themselves from danger.
Leave it to the anti-gunners, however, to try and argue that having a firearm makes them get hurt worse.
What these arguments neglect to mention is that when women—and particularly women of color—actually do try to defend themselves against their abusers, they are frequently the ones who end up getting punished.
First, some facts: Women are three and a half times more likely to be killed by a romantic partner than men are. Women are more than twice as likely to be killed by their husband or an intimate acquaintance than by a stranger. And, according to a Johns Hopkins School of Public Health study, “women living in homes with 1 or more guns were more than 3 times more likely to be killed in their homes.”
Ah, this old chestnut that has been debunked time and time again. In particular, there’s no adjustment for lawfully-owned firearms versus criminal behavior. Women who live in the home of a criminal or are a criminal themselves are far more likely to be murdered than other women, enough so that it may well skew the results.
But it continues.
You also can’t look at the problem of domestic violence without acknowledging the even worse problem of domestic violence within the law enforcement community. Studies have found that police officers’ partners and families experience domestic violence at a much higher rate than other families. And women who suffer abuse at the hands of police officers are often afraid to go to the police with their experience, fearing retaliation or simple inaction.
This is what I like to call the “Look! A squirrel!” argument.
No one is disputing that abuse happens. Regardless of where it happens, though, women have a right to self-defense, and there is no better tool for self-defense, particularly for a woman, than a firearm. Period.
The story follows up with a bunch of anecdotal stories of where the system failed, where women who supposedly defended themselves against abusive men were then prosecuted for it. The point, of course, is to show just how women get screwed.
Of course, the stories leave key things out. For example, the story brings up Bresha Meadows, a 14-year-old girl who shot and killed her reportedly abusive father. It talks all about how the system failed her.
Consider the case of Bresha Meadows. In 2016, the 14-year-old girl fatally shot her father—a man who she, her mother, and her siblings all described as abusive. Rather than being praised for her bravery in defending her mother and siblings, Meadows was arrested and charged with aggravated murder. Prosecutors originally considered trying Meadows as an adult, which would have carried a potential sentence of 20 years to life in prison. Meadows ultimately spent 10 months in a juvenile detention center in Ohio, and was released earlier this month.
However, that’s not the whole story. You see, Bresha Meadows wasn’t defending herself, according to the law as written. Oh no. What she did sure as hell looks like premeditated murder (emphasis mine).
And as Jonathan Meadows slept in his living room, his daughter pulled the trigger, ending his life and dividing a family, according to interviews and a police report. The relatives of Bresha’s father called the shooting a calculated murder. Those of the girl’s mother called it the end of a husband’s nonstop pattern of emotional and physical abuse that raged on until a young girl exploded.
In other words, at that moment, Meadows was not in fear of her life. Sure, she may have been terrified that someday her father would kill her, but right then he was harmless. He was asleep. She was as safe from him at that moment as she ever would be. And she shot him.
Then there’s this tidbit:
Consider the case of Marissa Alexander. In 2010, the Florida mother of three fired a “warning shot” toward her abusive ex-husband to prevent him from assaulting her. Despite the fact that she was a licensed gun owner and no one was harmed by her shot, Alexander was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
There were a couple of problems here. For one, Alexander’s ex-husband was both unarmed and standing with her son when she fired at him, and there doesn’t appear to be any claims that the boy was at risk from his father.
Second, the bullet from the gun doesn’t look like a “warning shot” like Alexander claimed.
The fact of the matter is that, like anyone else in such a circumstance, Alexander had, and failed, to show she was in fear of her life at that moment. Past abuse doesn’t justify lethal force, and thus her Stand Your Ground defense didn’t hold up in court.
The same would have happened if the genders were reversed.
Despite these instances that are supposedly proof that women won’t get a fair shake from the criminal justice system if they use a gun in self-defense, bear in mind that the estimates for the defensive use of a firearm range from 100,000 per year to as many as 2.5 million. There’s no way those are all men defending themselves, either.
Instead, tens of thousands to millions of women successfully defend their lives with a firearm every year and do so without the criminal justice system hammering them.
The fact of the matter is that when a woman is in danger, a firearm is the best option for defending her life. Less lethal options aren’t always effective, and hand-to-hand techniques give way too much of an advantage to the men due to weight and strength differences. Yet even the smallest of women can muster enough strength to pull a trigger.
If they want to avoid difficulties with the criminal justice system, however, they need follow the same rules the guys have to follow.