Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I watched the replay of the congressional hearing this past week on "what should we do about gun violence," and I was dumbfounded by the utterly bizarre testimony from a Gayle Trotter, who represents an organization called Independent Women’s Forum. Where do I know her name from? Oh, that's right. She is a wingnut blogger over at Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller. (Yes, that nasty little troll Tucker is still being propped up by his wealthy friends).
But I had forgotten the background of this Independent Women’s Forum. Amanda Marcotte at Slate has the background of this far-right astroturf organization. Gayle Trotter's Ideas Will Not Keep Women Safe:
The Independent Women's Forum was founded in 1992 out of a coalition of conservative women organized to support Clarence Thomas in the face of allegations that he sexually harassed Anita Hill. True to those roots, one of their primary functions since then has been to undermine efforts to end sexual abuse and violence against women. Their long-standing opposition to the Violence Against Women Act no doubt contributed to the GOP finding excuses to avoid reauthorizing it. They've organized protests of campus fundraising for anti-violence organizations. So who else would you turn to if you're the gun industry and wanting someone to testify in favor of guns, with an eye towards trying to get women to buy more of your product?
* * *
IWF's Gayle Trotter testified at today's Senate hearing on gun safety, and unsurprisingly claimed that guns make women safer. She apparently seems to believe most violence against women resembles Buffy the Vampire Slayer facing down a gang of vampires:
“Guns make women safer,” Trotter argued, because they eliminate the advantage violent criminals might have in size and strength. “Using a firearm with a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a woman would have a fighting chance even against multiple attackers.”
The conservative claim, made by Trotter, that guns are an "equalizer" is about as serious a misrepresentation as you can muster when it comes to violence against women. Most violence against women is perpetrated by men the victim knows in situations that are intimate or social, where guns aren't usually out. If someone during a domestic violence incident scrambles for the gun, it's rarely going to be the person who doesn't want this situation to get more violent.
* * *
The fact of the matter is that more guns put women in danger. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has found that states with more guns have more female violent deaths. Their research also found that batterers who owned guns liked to use them to scare and control their victims, and would often use the gun to threaten the victim, threaten her pets or loved ones, clean them menacingly during arguments, or even fire them to scare her. The Violence Policy Center's research showed that in 1998, the year they studied, 83 women were killed by an intimate partner for every woman who used a gun in self-defense. Futures Without Violence compiled the statistics and found that guns generally make domestic violence worse, both by increasing the likelihood of murder and also by creating situations where abuse is more violent, controlling, and traumatic.
The New York Times today editorializes, Dangerous Gun Myths:
The debate over what to do to reduce gun violence in America hit an absurd low point on Wednesday when a Senate witness tried to portray a proposed new ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines as some sort of sexist plot that would disproportionately hurt vulnerable women and their children.
The witness was Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the limits on firepower proposed by Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, would harm women because an assault weapon “in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon.” She spoke of the “peace of mind” and “courage” a woman derives from “knowing she has a scary-looking gun” when she’s fighting violent criminals.
It is not at all clear where Ms. Trotter gained her insight into confrontations between women and heavily armed intruders, since it is not at all clear that sort of thing happens often. It is tempting to dismiss her notion that an AR-15 is a woman’s best friend as the kooky reflex response of someone ideologically opposed to gun control laws and who, in her case, has also been a vociferous opponent of the Violence Against Women Act, the 1994 law that assists women facing domestic violence.
[H]er appearance before the committee was to give voice to the premise, however insupportable and dangerous it may be, that guns make women and children safer — and the more powerful the guns the better.
Ms. Trotter related the story of Sarah McKinley, an 18-year-old Oklahoma woman who shot and killed an intruder on New Year’s Eve 2011, when she was home alone with her baby. The story was telling, but not in the way she intended, as Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, pointed out. The woman was able to repel the intruder using an ordinary Remington 870 Express 12-gauge shotgun, which would not be banned under the proposed statute. She did not need a military-style weapon with a 30-round magazine.
But there is a more fundamental problem with the idea that guns actually protect the hearth and home. Guns rarely get used that way. In the 1990s, a team headed by Arthur Kellermann of Emory University looked at all injuries involving guns kept in the home in Memphis, Seattle and Galveston, Tex. They found that these weapons were fired far more often in accidents, criminal assaults, homicides or suicide attempts than in self-defense. For every instance in which a gun in the home was shot in self-defense, there were seven criminal assaults or homicides, four accidental shootings, and 11 attempted or successful suicides.
The cost-benefit balance of having a gun in the home is especially negative for women, according to a 2011 review by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Far from making women safer, a gun in the home is “a particularly strong risk factor” for female homicides and the intimidation of women.
In domestic violence situations, the risk of homicide for women increased eightfold when the abuser had access to firearms, according to a study published in The American Journal of Public Health in 2003. Further, there was “no clear evidence” that victims’ access to a gun reduced their risk of being killed. Another 2003 study, by Douglas Wiebe of the University of Pennsylvania, found that females living with a gun in the home were 2.7 times more likely to be murdered than females with no gun at home.
Regulating guns, on the other hand, can reduce that risk. An analysis by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that in states that required a background check for every handgun sale, women were killed by intimate partners at a much lower rate. Senator Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, has used this fact to press the case for universal background checks, to make sure that domestic abusers legally prohibited from having guns cannot get them.
As for the children whose safety Ms. Trotter professes to be so concerned about, guns in the home greatly increase the risk of youth suicides. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has long urged parents to remove guns from their homes.
The idea that guns are essential to home defense and women’s safety is a myth. It should not be allowed to block the new gun controls that the country so obviously needs.
Kudos to Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC who demonstrated his prosecutorial skills by exposing Gayle Trotter as a fraud in this segment of The Last Word (something members of Congress should have done).
The heroine of Gayle Trotter's testimony, Sarah McKinley, responded to an inquiry from MSNBC’s The Last Word about her thoughts on Trotter’s testimony and whether she thinks an assault weapons ban would in fact put women at risk of not being able to defend themselves from an attack or home invasion. In a phone conversation Thursday, McKinley made it clear that she was not in favor of any gun control. But she said of assault rifles that she “personally has no use for one and doesn’t own one.” She also supports background checks on gun sales. Mother who shot intruder responds to Trotter testimony — MSNBC.