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Posted: 3/15/2002 7:00:10 AM EDT
[url]http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/clevey/?id=105001763[/url] [b]Annie, Get Your Gun[/b] Women with firearms help make America safer. BY COLLIN LEVEY [i]Thursday, March 14, 2002 12:01 a.m.[/i] At Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, "hunting" has traditionally been understood as an activity for the horsy set or, at best, a Friday night excursion to Amherst. So much for tradition. The Seven Sisters school, which lives in the imagination as a bastion of preppy blushing girlhood, has lately made headlines because it's now harboring a chapter of the Second Amendment Sisters, a women's pro-firearms group--or in the parlance of New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, an organization of "chicks with guns." Mr. Kristof, in a recent column, muses on the dangerous college girls packing heat. He decides it's a bad idea and bad omen too: "Alas, one of the most far-reaching consequences of 9/11 is a surge in gun sales around the country," he frets. "We don't know whether more Americans will be killed by anthrax, we can be quite confident that plenty of us will be killed by these additional handguns." Mr. Kristof may be overreacting. It's hard to connect the dots between sport-shooting girls at a college that still serves milk and cookies in the dorms at bedtime and an impending spike in the national murder rate. However, he's certainly right that Sept. 11 did shift the footing on the gun issue--or at least contribute to a shift that was already going on. Women especially seem to have responded. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there's been a 25% spike in sales since the terrorist attacks, and women account for roughly 60% of the increase. Presumably those folks who bought guns did so for the reason liberal critics find most inconvenient about gun sales: self-defense. True, few Americans probably expect self-detonating members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad to climb in through their kitchen window. The trend, rather, is something that gets to the nerve of why we still defend the right to own a gun in this country. People are buying them as a symbolic act of defiance. Because it makes them feel better. The Second Amendment Sisters has been around for a while, and doesn't consist of the chest-thumping wackos (or worse) that people seem to expect. The group is often seen bravely, if vainly, trying to hold back the throngs at events like the Million Mom March, which consisted of far fewer than a million moms protesting against gun ownership. But that's not its main impact. The group's real success has been reaching out to the kinds of suburban everywoman you wouldn't expect.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 7:00:40 AM EDT
Long before Sept. 11 fervor took hold, more than one journalist has come back from a "chicks with guns" gathering blinking with surprise. Take this reaction by Laura Kilborn, a writer for the Denver Post:
When I heard about the NRA's Women on Target program, what I expected was an NRA propaganda fest, some noisome screed on gun rights punctuated by the blam-blam-blam-blam! of high-powered firearms . . . What I saw was just this, a hunt . . . Pleasant conversations, friendships being formed. Fun. What a concept."
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Most of these groups, along with magazines like Women and Guns, turn out not to be filled with women trying to make a political statement. Many of the women buying guns after September are motivated by a more primal instinct-- protecting hearth and home. And actually doing something instead of just being scared. This is something the gun movement has, ambivalently, expected for a long time, and so have gun manufacturers and store owners. Women living alone or working late or raising children without a man around have long been a ripe market for self-defense guns. And it must be said: Women are exactly the kind of people you do want owning guns. One look at the demographics of violent crime tells you about all you need to know. Guns don't kill people, men kill people. It's true that some proponents have played to the gender empowerment ethos. At Skidmore College, another small liberal-arts institution, Prof. Mary Stange of the women's studies department has written a book arguing that taking up a handgun offers women a taste of the "positively sanctioned forms of aggressive activity" that men have long enjoyed. Plenty of schools in the South and West have had female gun clubs. Among the elite bunch, Harvard has one that even boasts faculty sponsorship from the constitutional studies department and over 100 members--including some 5% of the law school. (Whether aspiring lawyers have greater sense they may fear for their lives someday in the future is a question for another day.) Even in Congress, a group started by some of the House husbands for a shooting outing got many of the wives involved. The media's fascination with the gun ownership waxes and wanes, but a larger trend has been quietly pro-gun. In little more than two decades more than two dozen states have become "shall issue" states, meaning that if a citizen applies for a conceal carry permit for a pistol local authorities must issue it unless he fails a background check. Women have played key roles in these fights. In Texas, Suzanna Gratia was elected to the state Legislature by pushing gun rights after she saw her parents gunned down during a mass shooting in a cafeteria. She carried a gun, but had left it in the car to have lunch that day. This all comes at time when the rate of violent crime has been dropping across the country. Mr. Kristof's truism that some guns will be used to commit crimes is true enough. Then again, the same goes for cars. But guns can stop crime, and it's good to see more women taking the initiative to protect themselves. [i]Ms. Levey is an assistant features editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.[/i] Copyright © 2002 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 9:06:09 PM EDT
Nice article. The Wall Street Journal, along with the Washington Times, and to some extent the New York Post, have been among the [b]few[/b] newspapers to say anything nice about gun owners. I try and write thank you emails every once in a while to give them some positive reinforcement [:)]
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 9:46:52 PM EDT
What a good article. Perhaps I should consider a subscription...
Link Posted: 3/15/2002 10:24:12 PM EDT
From what I've seen, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has been mostly silent on the entire gun control issue, in spite of a well-deserved reputation as a mouthpiece for other liberal causes. The implication behind this silence is that handguns are powerful force-equalizers against male violence — something that NOW doesn't want to jeopardize.
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