The Trace Freaks Over Trump Appointee Who Thinks Women Should Defend Themselves

AP Photo/Eric Gay

When it comes to violent encounters, women get the short end of the stick. While there are exceptions, women are usually smaller and weaker than men, making them particularly vulnerable to physical violence by men.


Again, there are exceptions. However, most women aren’t strongman competitors with black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or anything of the sort, nor do they want to be. Plus, none of that helps them if the man is armed.

As the old saying goes, God created all men, but Sam Colt made them equal. The same goes for women, too.

But over at The Trace, it’s bothered by the fact that President Trump’s pick to head the Office of Violence Against Women thinks it’s a good idea for women to be armed.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of Violence Against Women believes that arming women in domestic violence situations is key to their safety, despite experts’ warnings that the introduction of guns into abusive relationships can imperil victims.

Shannon Lee Goessling, a former Florida prosecutor, has argued that women in domestic violence situations should take up arms against their abusers. In her role as chief legal counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative attorneys’ group, she wrote an amicus brief for the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, which established the individual right to gun ownership. In the brief, she cited several instances of women shooting romantic partners in self defense and wrote that “women who are confronted with a sexual assault are significantly less likely to experience a completed rape if they resist with a weapon.”

But the consensus among researchers is that encouraging domestic violence survivors to use guns to defend themselves is a bad idea. April Zeoli, an associate professor at in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and an expert on the intersection of domestic violence and guns, concluded in 2015 that “there is no clear evidence that in the hands of victims, firearms are protective.” A far more effective policy, she said, is prohibiting abusers from accessing guns.


Unfortunately, all the studies that those researchers rely on are horribly flawed in myriad ways.

Zeoli can claim there’s no evidence, but here’s a number from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That number is 2.5 million.

That’s the number of people who use a firearm for self-defense each year. Zeoli and her colleagues would have you believe that none of those defensive gun uses are women using them against domestic abusers.

The truth is that most of the time, a domestic violence victim who uses a gun doesn’t even have to pull the trigger. While domestic abusers are usually filled with rage, they’re also not likely to try and test their victims with a gun barrel in their face. After the attacker leaves, many women don’t report the incident. They’re just relieved it’s over.

As such, statistics are often misleading because there’s no data to draw from.

The truth is Goessling is right that women who are dealing with domestic violence would do well to be armed. While I don’t think that’s the whole solution to domestic violence–I’d rather there weren’t any violence in the first place–it should be part of the discussion. The fact that it isn’t a part of the conversation shows how little people like The Trace and Zeoli care about these women.


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