Women and Guns: It’s Complicated

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6276910297_d8f367e83a_oI’m going to start by saying something a little controversial: I have no idea how I feel about guns. I know how I’m “supposed” to feel. According to my liberal political leanings, I should want to ban them altogether. And I also know how my gut feels — I’m terrified of tiny killing machines. But I also know that a lot of people I love and respect own weapons responsibly. It’s a conundrum.

A recent Marie Claire report found that women’s views on guns are nuanced, and differ strongly from those of men. Sixty-two percent of women polled believe gun laws should be more stringent. Half of women say they feel more negatively about guns in light of recent shootings.

Three times more men own guns than women. A little more than half the women who own firearms believe it makes their home a safer place. Three-quarters of women believe men and women have different philosophies about gun use and ownership.

In North Carolina, 41% of adult residents own a gun. Nationwide that number is 32%. Our state ranks number 22 in the country in terms of murder by guns. Unintentional shootings also take a number of lives each year.

I am one of the 59% of North Carolinians who don’t own a firearm. But both my parents do, as do a number of my friends. I’ve shot a Glock, a shotgun, and a Smith and Wesson 38 Special. Doing so taught me something important: guns are scary.

In an ideal world, people would be able to own whatever they wanted for protection, as long as they were responsible. But empirically speaking, people are often not. Every day the news brings more stories about toddlers shooting siblings with an unlocked gun, or inebriated adults making bad decisions and taking lives.

Although the report found that only 1% of women have faced gun violence in the last year, we suffer disproportionately from gun violence at the hand of a partner. Two-thirds of those killed in domestic violence situations are killed by a gun at the hand of their partner. One third of domestic violence shelter residents say they were threatened with a gun.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the guns are a women’s issue: not just because mothers lose sons to violence, but because women want safe gun ownership as well. What do you think? Do we need to outlaw firearms altogether, strengthen background checks, or leave things as-is? Respond in comments or on our Facebook.




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