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Posted: 2/28/2006 3:15:18 PM EDT
I mentioned (in another post) the paper my wife wrote last year in Law School for the Second Amendment Society. She ended up beating out 6 men to win the writing contest, and won $1200. I suggested possibly posting it and was asked to. So here it is.

Mods, if it doesn't belong here or is too long, feel free to delete or move. Thanks.

Note: The only changes that have been made are that I have removed all the references from the end and shortened her name to initials only on the header.

Vino

Gender Equality Requires a "Right to Carry" under the Second Amendment


A Paper Submitted for the


Second Amendment Society Writing Competition


C. L. P. V., Ph.D.


I. INTRODUCTION

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." [1] This right, as written, applies only against the federal government. The Supreme Court, as yet, has not chosen to incorporate the Second Amendment and make it applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. [2] In addition, the Court has not definitively ruled on whether the Second Amendment refers to an individual right to keep and bear arms or only to a collective right of the people to keep and bear. In the absence of a Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment is applicable against the states and that it provides an individual right to keep and bear arms, states and municipalities have wide liberty to restrict an individual's right to carry and possess guns. While the topic of gun control and its implications on crime and infringements on individual rights are topics that are hotly debated, few authors have addressed the adverse effect that gun restrictions have on women. Women are often the victims of violent crimes, and, given the ineffective protection provided by police, guns are often a woman's best self-defense option. This paper discusses the reasons why restricting gun possession adversely affects women.

II. NECESSITY OF THE RIGHT TO CARRY AND USE A GUN IN SELF DEFENSE

Women are in particular need of the right to carry and use a gun in self defense for three reasons. First, women are often the victims of violent crimes, including robbery, rape, domestic abuse and murder, in which the attacker or attackers are physically larger and stronger than the victim. Second, the state is unable to effectively protect women from becoming victims of violence, and in fact, the state has no legal duty to provide protection to women who seek police assistance from a known threat. Third, guns provide a woman with the most effective means of responding to the threat of violence while maintaining physical distance between herself and an attacker.

A. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Women have a high risk of experiencing some sort of violent attack during their lifetime. Three out of four women will be the victim of at least one violent crime. [3] While the victimization rate of males is declining, that of females has shown recent increases. [4] In 1994 women experienced approximately five million violent crimes. [5] These included approximately 432,000 rapes and sexual assaults, 472,000 robberies, over 940,000 aggravated assaults, and greater than 3 million simple assaults. [6] The majority of these violent offenses are committed by males. In a 1996 study, women represented only eight percent of state-convicted violent felons. [7] However, despite the relatively low frequency with which women commit violent crimes, women represent nearly half of the victims of violence. For example, the overwhelming majority of murders are committed by men. [9] Women are much more likely to be the victims than they are the offenders. [10] According to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, approximately ninety percent of women murdered in 2003 were murdered by males. [11] In contrast, only approximately ten percent of men murdered in 2003 were murdered by women. [12] In addition, women are more likely to be victimized by non-strangers, whereas men are more likely to be victimized by strangers. Statistics from the Bureau of Justice indicate that, excluding murder, strangers perpetrate fifty-four percent of violence against men. [13] In contrast, sixty-seven percent of violent acts against women, excluding murder, were perpetrated by non-strangers. [14] Similarly, a woman is twenty-one times more likely to be killed by her husband or ex-husband than a man is to be killed by his wife or ex-wife. [15] In addition, women are approximately eight times more likely than men to be the pursued by a stalker. [16] Those who stalk are nine times more likely to be male than to be female. [17] Because these women are attacked by men with whom they have had some prior interaction, the women may become aware of the threat of violence prior to the attack. These women are therefore in a position to take defensive action to protect their own safety.

B. STATE PROTECTION IS INEFFECTIVE

Despite the increasing violence against women, police rarely have the fortuity to interrupt violent attacks. [18] Instead, police are usually involved, if at all, only in the investigation of past violent acts. In addition, even when the police are aware of a specific and imminent threat to an individual woman's safety, they are under no duty to provide protection or respond to calls for help. [19] For example, in Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, the United States Supreme Court held that a state's failure to protect an individual against private violence is not generally a constitutional violation because the state has no duty to provide members of the general public with adequate protective services. [20] A tragic example of the failure to protect is seen in Warren v. District of Columbia. [21] In that case, two women awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a door below being forced open. They then heard screams coming from their roommate on the floor below. Two intruders had entered the building and were raping the woman who lived on the second floor. The two women called 911and then climbed from the third floor onto the roof to hide and wait for police. A police car drove by their building, but the officers in the car did not get out of the car to investigate. The two women climbed back into the house and called 911 again, but the police did not come. Despite the assurances of the 911 operator that help was on the way, the second call was never dispatched to any officers. When the screams stopped, the two women hoped that police had entered the building. They called downstairs to see if their roommate was all right. Unfortunately, the police were not there, and the intruders were still in the house. The intruders then kidnapped all three women at knife point, and held them for fourteen hours, during which time the women were "raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of [the two attackers]." [22] Despite the specific, imminent threat made known to the police, the court found that the police had no duty to provide services to any particular individual, and therefore were not liable for negligence in failing to protect or respond to the call for assistance. [23]

Even in the absence of negligence or indifference, police are unable to provide adequate protection to women. [24] Criminals outnumber the police by approximately twenty to one. [25] Considering that half of the police force performs administrative, clerical, and investigative duties, and that the remaining officers are divided into three shifts, the effect is that criminals outnumber on-duty police patrols approximately one hundred sixty to one. [26] Even a drastic increase in active police patrols will not guarantee the safety of individual citizens, since criminals control the timing and location of their crimes.

Since the police are neither obligated nor able to protect women, women should have the right to take on the responsibility for their own protection. Unfortunately, gun control laws that restrict the right to possess and carry firearms hinder a woman's ability to protect herself. For example, in the well-known case of Riss v. City New York, Linda Riss was repeatedly harassed and threatened by a former suitor, Burton Pugach. [27] Riss' requests for police protection were met with little interest. [28] When Riss became engaged to another man, she received a final threat from Pugach. [29] She begged the police for help, but they refused. [30] Pugach acted on his threat, hiring a man to throw lye in Riss' face. [31] As a result, Riss was blinded in one eye and severely scarred on the face. [32] The court found that there was no liability in tort for the city's failure to provide police protection to individual members of the public. [33] However, in the dissenting opinion, Justice Keating pointed out that "in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda did not carry any weapon for self-defense (former Penal Law, � 1897). Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York which now denies all responsibility to her." [34] This result is unacceptable. In the absence of a duty by the police to provide protection, women must be allowed to take action to protect themselves. The right to possess and carry guns is the most effective self-defensive tool available to women.

C. GUNS ARE THE MOST EFECTIVE METHOD OF SELF-DEFENSE FOR WOMEN

Although unarmed self-defense is an important and useful skill, it is ineffective in many situations. [35] The gun has two primary benefits over unarmed methods of self-defense. First, a gun may effectively serve as both a warning and a deterrent. Pointing a gun and threatening to shoot will deter many would-be attackers. The same is not true for other types of self-defense, where a warning is unlikely to deter an attacker, and serves only to remove the element of surprise from the woman's action. [36]

The second advantage guns have over other means of self-defense is that they do not require close proximity between the woman and the attacker in order to be effective. If a woman is trained in martial arts or the defensive use of a knife, she may be able to defend herself against an attacker. However, this type of defense requires that she have physical contact with the attacker. On average, men are forty-five pounds heavier and four to five inches taller than their female victims. [37] Physical contact between a male attacker and a female victim increases the chances that the woman will be injured. In addition, such training is less likely to be effective against multiple attackers, even if they are unarmed. The use of a gun, on the other hand, allows a woman to defend herself, while maintaining physical distance from the attacker, thereby reducing the chance that she will be injured. This distance between the woman and the would-be attacker also negates any physical size or weight advantage that the attacker has over the woman. Similarly, a gun is the only realistic method of self-defense that can be effective against multiple attackers simultaneously.

According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Justice, most violent offenses do not involve the use of weapons. [38] For example, of forty-three forcible rapes included in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2003 Crime Report, guns were used in only four cases. [39] When the attackers do not use guns, a woman who uses a gun in self-defense will be able to deter the attack in the majority of cases. One source estimates that guns are used defensively two million times a year. [40] In approximately ninety-eight percent of these cases, the potential victim deters the crime either without firing a shot, or by firing a warning shot only. [41] In the few instances where the attacker is shot by the citizen, the attacker recovers approximately eighty-five percent of the time. [42] In addition, victims who resist using a gun are only half as likely to be injured as those who do not resist, and are two-thirds less likely to be injured than a person who defends using some other means. [43] Thus, in most cases where a woman uses a gun as a warning in order to protect herself, she will gain the upper hand and be successful in deterring the attack.

III. LAWFULLY OWNED GUNS ARE A BENEFIT, NOT A THREAT, TO PUBLIC SAFETY

A. GUN CONTROL DOES NOT REDUCE VIOLENT CRIME

In contrast to the beneficial deterrent effect of the right to carry, laws that restrict gun rights do not reduce violent crime. In fact, cities that have a high rate of gun ownership experience less violent crime than do comparable cities with comparatively low rates of gun ownership. [44] Washington, D.C. represents one example of the failure of gun control to reduce the incidence of violent crime. The District of Columbia has the strictest gun control in the country, [45] they require licenses for both open and concealed possession. [46] In addition, the District of Columbia has one of the highest police-to-citizen ratios in the country. [47] Yet, despite strict gun control and a sizable police force, the District of Columbia has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. [48] In contrast, neighboring Virginia, which has a "right to carry" law, [49] has a much lower rate of violent crime. For example, in 2000 the District of Columbia experienced 41.8 murders per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Virginia experienced only 5.7 murders per 100,000 residents. [51]

B. DETERRENT EFFECT OF THE RIGHT TO CARRY

As discussed above, one of the biggest benefits to guns for self-defense is their tremendous deterrent effect. In addition to the immediate deterrence achieved when facing an imminent attack, the right to carry also has a broader deterrent effect on crime in the community as a whole. Feminist gun activist and former body guard Paxton Quigley relates an example of this kind of deterrence in describing event that took place in the 1960's in Florida. [52] Following a number of brutal rapes in Orlando, gun sales in the area increased drastically. A local newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel-Star, joined with police to offer a training session at a local park. In response to an advertisement in the paper, twenty-five hundred women, armed with firearms of all varieties, arrived at the designated place. While the initial session had to be cancelled because of the overwhelming number of attendees, the police and paper re-organized the program into small training sessions given by appointment. In total six thousand women participated in the training. As a result, the instance of rape in Orlando fell from thirty-four per year to only four. The physical assault and burglary rates each decreased by twenty-five percent. None of the women trained was ever required to display a gun to deter a criminal attack. Even five years after the training, the sexual assault rate remained below the prior level, while that in the surrounding area increased over three hundred percent.

Criminals avoid choosing victims that they think may be armed. [53] In fact, one study that questioned convicted felons indicated that criminals are more concerned about meeting an armed victim, even when the criminal himself is armed, than they are about meeting police. [54] Over forty percent of the felons questioned responded that they had been deterred at least once by the belief that the victim might be armed. [55] Thus concealed carry permits protect not only those who choose to own and carry a gun, but also those who are not armed, since criminals are deterred by the mere possibility that a victim is armed. [56]

IV. GUN CONTROL IS ADVERSE TO WOMEN

Women are among the groups most likely to be adversely affected by gun control. [57] Restricting the right to possess and carry guns restricts the accessibility of the most effective self-defense tool available to women. [58] Men will continue to commit violent acts against women, whether or not they possess guns. [59] When the right to carry a gun is restricted, women are severely disadvantaged because they are unlikely to be able to successfully defend themselves against stronger male attackers. [60] Statistical evidence indicates that, when guns are less common, crime increases against the physically weaker members of society, including women, children, the elderly and the disabled. [61] In contrast, in the absence of guns men are better able to defend themselves and their property. [62] Violent criminals would have an even greater advantage from gun bans, since they will not face the risk of encountering an armed victim. [63] Restrictions on the right to carry force women, especially those facing a known and imminent threat to their safety, to commit a crime in order to adequately protect themselves.

V. CONCLUSION

Violence against women is endemic. Removing the woman's right to carry places her at a disadvantage in facing a larger and stronger male attacker. Police are unable to effectively protect women from this violence, and in fact have no legal duty to do so. Laws that restrict the right to carry guns frustrate a woman's ability to be proactive and take responsibility for her own safety. She is left with no defense against violence, and is thus forced to be reactive. Restrictions on the right to carry defeat the independence a woman achieves by defending herself, and force her to be dependent on society for her protection.
Link Posted: 2/28/2006 3:19:27 PM EDT
Ok, well apparently because of the "smiley" links, a couple of items have changed to make one of the references into the "8 ball" and another into the machine-gun smiley. Oh well. It is either leave them there or delete all the reference marks, and I don't feel like deleting them all. You all are smart enough to see past it all.

Thanks for looking.
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 8:46:24 AM EDT
nice job. Get her into politics.
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 11:45:43 AM EDT
Good piece. I'll give it to the wife.

I really think the progun crowd needs to run with the argument that gun laws specifically damage the rights of women and minorities. Turn the gungrabbers PC hammer against them.

Think of the women and minorities!
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 11:48:47 AM EDT
I have been trying to get her to become a lawyer for the NRA. There is more money in medical malpractice.
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 4:55:09 PM EDT
Looks like I got some new ammo when someone askes me why im progun.
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