As Scott Lemieux noted yesterday, the Supreme Court’s decision in
McDonald v. Chicago “incorporated” the Second Amendment so that
the individual right to bear arms now applies to all levels of
government, including the states. This will lead to a slew of new cases trying to roll back gun-control laws. Alarmingly, some believe that one of the targets will be laws banning gun ownership for
individuals “convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.” It's especially troubling because loosening these guns laws will have a disproportionate effect on women given that guns are the primary weapon used in intimate-partner homicides.
When the Supreme Court decided Heller, establishing an individual's right to own a handgun for self-defense (and striking down a D.C. ban), TAPPED asked whether gun control was a
feminist issue. While some would argue guns allow women to defend themselves, the numbers show that hand guns are
mostly used against women -- not by them. This is because women are
far more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than a stranger. According to Women Against Gun
Violence, women murdered by an intimate partner are more likely to
be killed with guns than by all other methods combined. For women in
abusive relationships, access to a gun increases the likelihood of a
eightfold. Handguns in particular are found to increase the risk of
violence against women.
Wherever you come down ideologically, it’s pretty clear that expanding gun ownership -- not to mention putting guns in the hands of those convicted of domestic abuse -- will increase the number of women killed in
abusive relationships. Feminists’ concerns about violence against women
is not often put in the context of gun ownership. This is a big oversight; given that guns are used so often against women, feminist organizations should see gun control as a feminist issue. But if the absence of feminist groups from the amici
briefs or petitions in the McDonald case is any indication, this is a
challenge they aren’t taking on.
-- Pema Levy
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