Written by: m.wilson
ANTI-GUN LEGISLATION AS PUBLIC HEALTH
Gun violence is regarded as a ‘health crisis’ and more noticeably since the Covid-19 pandemic – as noted by the AAFP, which stated that “Gun violence is a public health epidemic and should be treated accordingly.” To establish this relationship, professionals and scholars within the health sector have been advocating for substantial government regulation. These entities are joining voices with others in the field of public health who wish to move away from what they describe as the “Health is your choice and your responsibility” model.
Back in Feb 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Stanford professors wrote in Perspectives on Psychological Science that expecting people to be responsible for their own health is ineffective. They want government policies designed for ‘guiding industry practices and consumer choices,’ as a way to create a ‘supportive environment,’ and make health decisions ‘easier to choose.’ These points of view classifying guns as public health and concerning pandemics when there’s intimate government involvement, have been affecting our personal and constitutional rights and freedoms. And so the question must be asked, is a move away from the “health depends on personal choices” construct good or bad for women’s rights? Might this somehow affect ‘the right to choose,’ and also because it was mentioned by many conservative anti-vaxers in relation to pro-choice? Could this change have anything to do with the subsequent overturning of legal precedent after 50 years in Roe v Wade on 6/24/22 as the pandemic was slowing down? Does this notion somehow devalue self-preservation in favor of self-harm-prevention?
And where healthcare is concerned, despite the feminist movement and modern advances in medicine, there are many females who do not feel their personal health is properly legitimized within these institutions, beyond the point of pregnancy. Today, more than ever, there are numerous women in the media representing those suffering from mysterious auto-immune-like diseases that might go on for years without proper diagnoses, as well as reproductive-related disorders that are trivialized or ignored after menopause.
SELF-PRESERVATION VS. POTENTIAL SELF-HARM
Facts and figures pertaining to gun violence focus on the presence of a gun and whether or not a violent incident would have occurred. Therefore, in response, new gun laws will tell us, no – these incidents would not have happened and/or would not have been as fatal – and without factoring in self-preservation. Are non-fatal, self-preserving incidences involving guns reported to the police? Does a woman who uses her gun to convince a 250 lbs. man to leave her home after telling him to go numerous times in a very loud voice and would not budge – tell the authorities afterwards? So then how can a benefit like this be added to these studies on gun violence?
“Guns are the great equalizer. Women don’t have equal rights until they are equally capable of defending themselves.” – Owen Schaefer
“Many years ago (when I was a young 25 years old), I broke up with a guy I was seeing. Something just wasn’t right about the relationship. My gut instincts were correct. He broke into my apartment and held me captive in my kitchen. As he strangled me, my body lifted from the floor with feet dangling. I thought for a few seconds to try to grab for a knife on the counter but couldn’t reach them with all the frantic motions happening. As my mind was spinning out of control, one thought was to gouge his eyes out… but I just didn’t have the strength (or maybe I just couldn’t do it). My last thought before passing out was to “play dead” (or maybe it was “I’m dead”). I literally just dropped my body. What seemed like hours but was probably minutes and maybe just seconds, I woke up curled up on the floor. He had fled the scene. Later we found out he thought I had died.” – Women and Guns
“Subjects completing suicide commonly switch from one suicide method to another, a finding that weakens but does not negate the credibility of restrictions on the availability of lethal methods as a preventive measure.”
Most gun-related death is caused by suicide – 80 percent in Canada and 54 percent, or six out of every ten gun deaths, in the United States. It is the most efficient method, and unfortunately, women who own firearms are 35 times more likely to use it to commit suicide than non-gun owners, which is much higher than the rate for men (KFF). But despite the fact that suicide is a greater risk for women who own firearms than men, they are far less likely to use violence on others, such as in mass shootings and other violent crimes. And in terms of healthcare, 40 percent of those who repeatedly attempt suicide are not receiving mental services (NYT).
WILLINGNESS TO USE VIOLENCE
The willingness to use violence (among those not in law enforcement, military, etc.), even in violent situations when women should protect themselves, is far greater in men than in women, and most people take this as common knowledge. A Harvard.edu study stated, ‘Victims use guns in less than one percent of contact crimes, and that women did not use guns to protect themselves against sexual assault in more than 300 cases.’ Another study surveying 1527 gun homicides in 2010 showed that only 16 percent were perpetuated by women shooting men, and a whopping 84 percent of the murders were committed by men.
However, gun ownership among women has risen to 22 percent, up just a few percent over the last 15 years, and more women than ever before are considering a gun purchase to ‘protect themselves from strangers,’ which is the same reason men give. At the same time, the rising numbers of female gun owners and gun enthusiasm have not significantly increased statistics pertaining to female-perpetrated gun violence in the public sphere.