Magazine | August 27, 2018, Issue

Women Need Guns

(Paul Chesley/Getty Images)
They can make the difference between life and death

Several weeks ago we learned the results of a new survey: The United States is apparently one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world for women. It’s not, actually, but that is the conclusion the Left has reached and is promoting based on inflated college-rape statistics and the fetishizing of victimhood. The survey results were compiled not from actual statistics, but instead from 550 interviews with so-called women’s experts around the world. From their answers, it’s clear that those in the intersectional American Left are walking around scared for their physical safety, or at least pretending to, even if that fear isn’t grounded in reality.

America ranked in the same top-ten list as India, where women are all too frequently gang-raped, killed at gunpoint, and even sometimes set on fire afterwards. The U.S. came in at No. 10, while Iran, where a woman was recently arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison for protesting laws regulating the wearing of a hijab, didn’t rank at all. Anyone familiar with the truly dangerous climate for women in places such as India and the Middle East can understand that while the “Me Too” movement has raised necessary awareness of sexual harassment and assault here in the United States, it has not exposed our society to be inherently violent towards women. Relatively and realistically speaking, it is not uniquely dangerous for anyone to live in most parts of the country, no matter what “women’s experts” may claim.

The notion that women are so at risk in the U.S. becomes particularly interesting when one considers that the same liberal ideologues promoting it are also diametrically opposed to gun rights. The American Left simultaneously holds the views that life is more dangerous for women here than in most other places in the world and that the Second Amendment should be repealed or, at the very least, drastically curtailed. Even under constant threat, women, if gun-rights opponents got their way, would not have the ability to protect themselves with the best defenses available. If women were really so threatened, so at risk of rape or assault at any given moment in the workplace and on the streets, what would we want them to have on their persons and in their homes to protect themselves? Would we want the strongest defense available to women to be pepper spray or a gun?

There are, of course, dangerous areas and situations for women and men across the United States. Gun violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by illegal gun owners (as studies tracking gun crimes in Chicago and Pittsburgh suggest); in many localities, the gun rights of law-abiding citizens are blocked by regulations that make it nearly impossible to carry or sometimes even own a firearm legally. The stories of drive-by shootings and pizza deliverymen robbed at gunpoint are well publicized, and most Americans think of young men when they think of gang violence. There is, however, little acknowledgment of the particular vulnerability women have in crime-prone areas that criminals view as soft targets. For many women, having a gun can mean the difference between being a defenseless victim and having the ability to protect oneself.

In June of this year, Miranda Schaeffer, a waitress in Wisconsin, used a gun she was licensed to carry to protect a co-worker from an attack. After a customer came into the kitchen to assault the restaurant’s manager, Veronica Kaehler, because his order was taking too long, Schaeffer pulled a handgun from her waistband and pointed it at the assailant until he backed off. On television, Kaehler explained that she had encouraged Schaeffer to bring her firearm with her to work because incidents with customers were common. “I worked third shift for a whole year there and it was incident after incident, robberies, you name it,” Kaehler said. Physically, Kaehler was no match for her assailant, and the restaurant employed no security. But they didn’t need a security guard, because Schaeffer had a gun.

Guns aren’t just an equalizer in situations of random violence, robberies, and potential rapes; they also keep women safe from attackers closer to home. After a woman we’ll call “Angela” married Tim, the usual period of newlywed bliss was shattered by Angela’s discovery that Tim was not who she thought he was. He had severe mental-health problems, and despite Angela’s lifetime license to carry, she hesitated to bring a gun into their home because of Tim’s threats of suicide. Her concern was grounded in her awareness of the statistics surrounding gun use in suicides and domestic-violence incidents. There are, however, steps Angela could have taken in order to ensure she had a gun accessible only to her, and one afternoon, she wished she had. As she tells the story:

After a couple years [of marriage], one afternoon, in a regular occurrence of yelling at me, he snapped and attacked me in front of our baby. In those several seconds I went from thinking I could possibly die to actually feeling bones in my leg break. I was powerless. After his attack he ran out the front door and I was left with our child. . . . I called 911 and was shocked to find myself listening to hold music. I was on hold with 911 for approximately five minutes. It felt like eternity. In the meantime I was texting my mother asking her to come to my house. Finally, a 911 operator answered and I told her what [had] happened; she told me the police were on their way and hung up. I thought they were supposed to stay on the phone with you until help arrives. I hobbled with my daughter into the living room and positioned myself in the middle of the room halfway between the front door and the kitchen so as to unlock the door for the police but be able to hobble away in case of my husband’s return. And sure enough, he returned. I hurried into the kitchen and was screaming. I was on the phone with my mom and he grabbed the phone away; she was yelling for me to get outside in the open. I got out to the driveway space we share with our townhouse neighbors. At that point it had been ten or fifteen minutes since I [had] hung up with 911. Where were the police and why hadn’t 911 stayed on the phone with me until help arrived? I live in one of the biggest cities in America, not a rural location. Finally, the first cop arrived without her sirens on and parked on the road and casually walked up to the house. [I came to believe that,] though a gun on my person [might] not have been usable while I was being overpowered in the initial attack, it would have been helpful to have it in a safe upstairs that would only open with my fingerprints, to protect [myself] while I waited for the police. 

To most feminists, feminism means eliminating power imbalances between men and women. A physical power imbalance between the sexes will always exist. But guns can level the playing field, potentially saving women’s lives in the process. To many, gun culture in this country evokes images of hunters and sport shooters; it is thought of as almost universally male. But for women such as Schaeffer, Kaehler, and Angela, having the right to own a gun is so much more: It is potentially the difference between life and death.

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