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Excerpt: "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."

NYT: 'The debate over what to do to reduce gun violence in America hit an absurd low point on Wednesday.' (photo: unknown)
NYT: 'The debate over what to do to reduce gun violence in America hit an absurd low point on Wednesday.' (photo: unknown)


Dangerous Gun Myths

By The New York Times | Editorial

04 Febuary 13

 

he 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.

But it is important to note that Ms. Trotter was chosen to testify by the committee's Republican members, who will have a big say on what, if anything, Congress does on guns; and that her 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.


 

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+35 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 09:12
And the Sandy Hook's killer's mom was such a victim. Man, she was armed to the teeth and could fight off a gang of killers. Yea, right. She was killed by her son whom she taught how to shoot. Anybody that believed that testimony by Trotter is either a complete fool or a shill, bought and paid for by the NRA.
 
 
-13 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 11:15
Well, then maybe she needed to assess whether he was mentally sound enough to handle a gun?
My father always told me, "Never give a retarded child a loaded gun". I always dismissed that "wisdom" as redundant, but maybe it wasn't so redundant after all?
 
 
+7 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 12:34
Or maybe, just maybe, she should not have had the opportunity to buy such weapons. Weapons do not magically appear out of thin air. They are manufactured, distributed and sold. They fall either into the hands of responsible adults, or not. They only become available to criminals and mentally incapacitated people by 1) thefts 2)private or gunshow sales 3)gun dealers. Gun dealers have to initiate background checks for a sale to be made. So how do crazy people or crooks get guns? They either buy them via private sales or steal them. We need to stop selling semi-auto weapons to anyone at all. Why? Because they are either purchased from straw buyers, or a gunshow sale or they are stolen. Anyway you look at it, if they weren't manufactured and sold, then they would not be available to criminals or mentally ill people. This so basic.
 
 
-10 # Surflar 2013-02-04 14:25
Dude criminals will always have guns your theory is ignorant rules and laws only apply to law abiding people. We are not the only ones in the world that make guns and you think they won't find their way here???? The criminals will get them first and then distribute and there you go a thriving black market. Restore freedom and honor the constitution.
 
 
+6 # NOMINAE 2013-02-04 16:36
Quoting restorefreedom:
Dude criminals will always have guns your theory is ignorant rules and laws only apply to law abiding people. We are not the only ones in the world that make guns and you think they won't find their way here???? The criminals will get them first and then distribute and there you go a thriving black market. Restore freedom and honor the constitution.


Yeah ...... and by THAT logic, I can see why we should also STOP treating Cancer Patients everywhere, bcuz, ya know, Cancer will *still* find some OTHER person to kill.

Therefore MUCH better to do NOTHING about the problem, and just keep manufacturing as many sources of Cancer as we can POSSIBLY produce.

As for *prevention*, again, FAR better to do just keep doing NOTHING, rather than to do everything within our POWER, even if what we DO only just REALLY HELPS the situation, but does not fully and completely ERADICATE the problem.

Yeah ! I GET it !

Signed, Loony Logic Lover
 
 
+8 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 17:15
Again, I say if guns wre not sold here regardless of where they were made, then they couldn't be used in crimes. The senerio you paint is baseless. What I said is not a theory, it is fact. Crtiminals will NOT always have guns if they are not manufactured and sold openly. And bear in mind, I'm only talking about assault weapons and large capacity magazines. I've never suggested that revolvers and shotguns could not be sold. As with most gun obsessed people, you refuse to even accept an alternative solution or any kind of compromise.
 
 
+8 # genierae 2013-02-04 13:09
Your use of the word "retarded" to describe a child is offensive, but that word certainly applys to rightwing extremists who think everyone should have assault rifles with no background checks. That is definitely a retarded, backward view of things, and doesn't belong in the 21st century.
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-02-04 17:06
Quoting genierae:
Your use of the word "retarded" to describe a child is offensive .........


Yeah ..... before we get our P.C. knickers in bunch over the perfectly accurate, and perfectly accepted MEDICAL TERM "retarded", go check a dictionary. There is nothing "offensive" about the word, other than the fact that some clown has TOLD you to think of it as offensive, and apparently you have conformed and complied.

Calling the condition of retarded mental development by any other name does not change the *fact* of retarded mental development. Soon the "new" term becomes "offensive", and the chain never ends. "Retarded" means "slowed", not "backwards", and it identifies the observed symptoms.

Any word can be used as a pejorative. Are we really going to eliminate every word in the English language that can be MADE "naughty"? Because then, of course, Third Graders out behind the garage are going to thoroughly wipe out our ancient and illustrious language.

It was Sarah Palin who tried to make the medical term "retarded" a National knee-jerk "n-word" in defense of her Down's Syndrome Child. More B.S. from the P.C. Thought Police.

Personally, Sarah Palin makes NO binding decisions over my own use of the English language. And do you truly think that mentally afflicted children object to the perfectly accurate term?

No one is recommending hurting anyone here. Just urging all to THINK FOR YOURSELF, and leave the Thought Police to fade away.
 
 
0 # genierae 2013-02-05 17:56
Forty years ago my husband's cousin, who had Down's syndrome, was jeered at regularly by the other kids, and called retarded. She came home from school crying many times. Unfortunately, she didn't have the mental capacity to look the word up in the dictionary, so she didn't realize that these kids meant her no harm. Too bad you weren't there to explain it to her.

In Webster's New College Dictionary, the meaning of retarded is: Slow or limited in mental, physical or emotional development. OFTEN CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE. (Caps mine)

In this country we are free to determine on our own, just what we think is offensive, and the term "retarded", when used to describe a child, has been offensive for many decades. Sarah Palin has nothing to do with it. Taking your advice to think for myself, I think your entire comment is offensive, and you need to spend some time with Down syndrome kids. But please don't call them retarded.
 
 
0 # NOMINAE 2013-02-05 23:25
@ genierae

Part I

First off, I was commenting re: English usage among adults. I have a background in child development, and have worked with many children.

Children are some of the most psychologically cruel entities on the planet, simply because they lack the empathic wiring to easily "project themselves" into another's pain". Children will ALWAYS find a way to be cruel to other children until they simply outgrow that phase, and the brain develops higher functioning.

When you say sarcastically, "she didn't know that these kids meant her no harm" .... you miss the point. OF COURSE the kids meant her HARM ! And OF COURSE she knew that. What adult would argue that she DID NOT ?

I will not defend statements that I did not make. She knew FULL WELL that the kids meant to hurt her, which they could have *just* as effectively done using ANY WORD.

It is NOT the *word* that is the problem, it IS the hurtful INTENT behind the word that causes the pain! She may not have had the slightest idea what "retarded" *meant*, but she DEFINITELY could not miss the intent to hurt that was behind it. Down's Syndrome children are usually highly intuitive, but almost no child could miss that abuse.

Cont'd
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-02-05 23:28
@ genierae

Part II

This problem is not solved by changing the language. The kids could have called her "skunk". Depending upon how it is applied, that word can ALSO be "offensive", and yet it still has LEGITIMATE uses in the language. Shall it also be banned ?

Again, ANY WORD can be turned INTO a pejorative. Forbidding all such words from the language is ridiculous, and, more to the point, it will NOT address the problem.

If you forbid all language that can possibly be used "offensively" by children, they will simply INVENT THEIR OWN ! "Doo-doo head", being a familiar example.

As for a bit of "dueling dictionaries", my Miriam Webster's Deluxe defines "retardation" as " an abnormal slowness of thought or action, also, less than normal intellectual competence usually characterized by an IQ of less than 70."

Simply fact. NO mention of "offense". Nothing "judgmental" in the word itself. That has to be supplied, if it is to be present, by the *user*.

The fact that you find my "entire comment [to be] offensive" is of absolutely no interest to me. You are fully responsible for maintaining your own emotional balance. And you are entirely free to deal with that problem on your own.

You may even gain comfort by refraining from presuming to tell other adults how to make their own personal vocabulary choices.
 
 
-2 # genierae 2013-02-06 07:56
You are wrong. Period.
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-02-06 21:25
Quoting genierae:
You are wrong. Period.


WoW ! WELL and convincingly argued !

Good thing I don't have such a hypersensitive and thin skin that
I suffer "offense" over your use of the word "wrong".

It is merely your opinion, and I simply consider the source.

Thank you
 
 
+13 # Billsy 2013-02-04 11:24
Ms. Trotter could not even recall the kind of gun used although she remembered any number of emotionally fraught details in her testimony. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights when Sen. Whitehouse informed her that the gun used was not included in the proposed assault weapons ban. I love it when facts destroy the case of a misinformed idealogue.
 
 
-40 # lnason@umassd.edu 2013-02-04 09:27
Three things to note:

1. Guns were initially hailed by women as The Great Equalizer since they allowed women to defend themselves against (usually stronger) men.

2. There are dozens of reported cases of women defending themselves using assault rifles -- including a couple of recent cases.

3. Jimmy Carter's Justice Department found that of more than 32,000 attempted rapes they studied, 32% were actually committed. But when a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually successful.

Only a willfully blind eye could write this editorial.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+17 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-02-04 10:21
So, lnason@umass.edu, are you saying that to better protect our 1st graders that they need to be taught how to shoot guns with multiple magazines? You talk about "initially hailed by women...." what century are you living in?

Gayle Trotter needs to give public speaking a rest if this is all she's got to offer: the irrelevent and rediculous. And speaking of "willfully blind" eyes, perhaps you might open yours...
 
 
+11 # Regina 2013-02-04 11:53
Gale Trotter is the Phyllis Schlafly of the Gun-Nuts movement.
 
 
+6 # NOMINAE 2013-02-04 17:19
Quoting hoodwinkednomore:
So, lnason@umass.edu, are you saying that to better protect our 1st graders that they need to be taught how to shoot guns with multiple magazines? ..


THANK YOU for reminding us all that the exact same insanity that you reference above WAS actually "trotted out there" by Wayne LaPierre during the NRA's original "response" to the Newtown shootings, right along with his recommendation that all adults in the school be armed. (Like the armed guards that WERE in Columbine High School had so much power to "change the outcome")

LaPierre called for "firearms safety training" for the toddlers. I cannot BELIEVE that he was allowed by the media to "walk that back" without so much as an explanation of what he could have POSSIBLY been thinking ! These people fully demonstrate their *certifiable* insanity on national TV, and the media helps them to hide it !

Kudos to YOU for holding some feet to the fire !
 
 
+18 # Ken Halt 2013-02-04 11:05
lnason: "Guns were initially...". This is such a broad, catchall pronouncement that one can only regard it as anecdotal, at best. Who were those women? What percentage of women? Who counted them? How was the poll conducted. "Dozens of reported cases of women defending themselves...". Again, please cite or link us to these cases, and they had better not be uncorroborated incidents that were self-reported by NRA members. I am very tired of unsubstantiated conservative nonsense.
 
 
+15 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 11:11
Lee, I suggest you reread the article, especially paragraphs 6, 8 and 9.
So in your 3rd paragraph you cite a Justice Dept. study of rapes. Now I haven't had the chance to read the sudy in its entirety, but can you tell me of the of attempted rapes studied how many were foiled by a gun versus foiled by a knife? Also, how many rapes were foiled by a handgun with a large capacity magazine or by an assualt rifle? Also, can you please explain the math? I read it as of the 32,000 attempted rapes, 32% were actually committed. That's 10,240 rapes. Then you said only 3% of the attempted rapes were successfull. That's 960 rapes. Can you explain your math more carefully? Also can you be more specific and cite a few of the "dozens of reported cases of women defending themselves using assault rifles?" And finally, who said "guns were initially hailed by women as The Great Equalizer?" Statements such as the ones made in your posting need to be explained further to have any traction. I find them to be misleading and spurious, at best.
 
 
+10 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 11:19
In an RSN article a few days ago my response to a posting regarding voting on abortion, the Second Amendment and the First Amendment, I voted to overturn the Second Amendment. To that a fellow poster gave me some kind of negative "Darwin" award. I'm not sure about all that, but I would like to reiterate my desire to seen the repeal of the Second Amendment. I feel this amendment was originally written to mean one thing, and now it's being interpreted to mean something else. The framers of our Constitution meant the document to be organic, and as such meant it to be changed as the times changed.
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-05 17:23
Correct. Apparently it was originally written to keep the southern states happy that nothing would interfere with their militias that were chasing down escaped slaves.
 
 
+6 # Billsy 2013-02-04 11:26
Would you care to cite that 'study'. There is one already mentioned in the article which you ignored. "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."
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-05 17:19
But as the article clearly states, if there is a gun in the house the woman is 270% more likely to be killed than if there were no gun available. I doubt that women like being killed.
 
 
+25 # genierae 2013-02-04 09:35
We hear 24/7 about "gun rights" and how the Second Amendment allows us to have any kind of weapon we want, the bigger the better, but we almost never hear about the rights of those who don't own guns, to live in a country where sensible gun laws exist. The idea that I have to buy a gun and waste my time getting trained on how to use it, in order to please rightwing zealots who refuse to give an inch on any kind of gun regulation, is ludicrous. That kind of attitude should have been left behind when we entered the new millenium. These troglodytes are in the minority, they don't even represent the majority in their own party, so why are they allowed to keep us from making the changes necessary to move this country forward?
 
 
-20 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 11:13
Actually, right now, it looks like the zealotry of those who DON'T have guns trying to make it so that "If I don't have a gun, NOBODY should".
There's a rather lengthy Internet chain-letter going around, basically it's about 40-some lines of "If a Conservative wants X, he does X, if a Liberal wants X, he makes EVERYONE do X"
Is that not the pattern here?
 
 
+8 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 12:35
No it's not. Misleading and silly posting.
 
 
+7 # genierae 2013-02-04 13:34
No, that's NOT the pattern here. We who don't believe we need assault rifles in our homes and on our streets have rights too, EPGAH. NOBODY is trying to take away your gun rights, we just want sensible gun regulation, so that no more little kids have to die because politicians are afraid of the NRA. The leadership of the NRA is trying to sell more guns for their corporate masters, while their own membership is for better gun regulation. The person who is circulating the internet chain letter is a fear-monger who cares nothing about massacres of first graders.
 
 
+8 # BlueReview 2013-02-04 15:00
Quoting EPGAH3:
There's a rather lengthy Internet chain-letter going around, basically it's about 40-some lines of "If a Conservative wants X, he does X, if a Liberal wants X, he makes EVERYONE do X"
Is that not the pattern here?


Seriously? You're citing an internet chain letter as a "credible" source?

I have to show a photo ID when I buy sinus medication. Where was your outrage when THAT law was proposed? And don't tell me "That's different"--the only difference is the degree of hypocrisy. I don't use meth, I don't cook meth--so for those of you with guns who don't have sinus problems, you seem to be saying (to use your own words), "If I don't have pseudoephedrin, NOBODY should".
 
 
+5 # DaveM 2013-02-04 11:01
If I felt the need to keep a gun around for "home defense", my first choice would be a pump-action shotgun. Merely working the slide (everybody knows the sound) would almost certainly be enough to send any intruder with half his wits about him running for dear life.

There is a potential problem with this. Some home invaders wear body armor, which a shotgun will not penetrate. We must remember, however, that in 90-95% of cases where someone defends themselves with a gun, no shot is ever fired.
 
 
+5 # Todd Williams 2013-02-04 12:40
I wonder where these "home invaders" get body armor? I thought it used to be illegal to buy body armor? Does the NRA now encourge the purchasing of body armor for self-protection from those crooks who are armed like the SWAT team? What's next? Tanks? APCs? The NRA is directlyh and immorally responsikble for the arming of our general public. Where in the hell does the NRA think these criminals get guns and armor? Certainly not from robbing National Guard armories or police stations. Look in the mirror, we have become the devil.
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-02-04 17:26
Quoting Todd Williams:
I wonder where these "home invaders" get body armor? I thought it used to be illegal to buy body armor? Does the NRA now encourge the purchasing of body armor for self-protection from those crooks who are armed like the SWAT team? What's next? Tanks? APCs? The NRA is directlyh and immorally responsikble for the arming of our general public. Where in the hell does the NRA think these criminals get guns and armor? Certainly not from robbing National Guard armories or police stations. Look in the mirror, we have become the devil.


Are you kidding ? They buy it on the Internet. To my knowledge, it's not even illegal.
 
 
+1 # Todd Williams 2013-02-05 06:03
I'm just saying it used to be illegal. When was the law changed? I suppose you can get armor on the internet. Too bad.
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-05 17:25
Holmes in the Batman movie event was wearing body armor. Where did he get it?
 
 
0 # NOMINAE 2013-02-06 22:21
Quoting Todd Williams:
I'm just saying it used to be illegal. When was the law changed? I suppose you can get armor on the internet. Too bad.


I am really as much in the dark as you are on that one. I don't have any idea what that law actually states. But RSN is running another article elsewhere in which the author recounts his ability to buy (four or five - don't quote me) AR-15s on the Internet within the span of FORTY minutes. And ALL without the "fuss" of a background check being involved.

Body armor is also easily purchased on the Internet, but I could offer no solid opinion upon the legality of the transaction.

So, I am thinking that whatever laws are actually on the books, the Internet will be the toughest place to police them.
 
 
+7 # roger paul 2013-02-04 12:57
Dear Epgah3,your argument doesn't stand in the light of logic. For example, during this last election cycle, and on going, is the debate by "christian conservatives" that want all women to not have access to abortion, no matter what the circumstances. Many within this group also want women not to have access to birth control, or even education on the subject. Before you take exception please read Sam Harris' book on "The Moral Landscape: how science can determine human values." I understand that this may create cognitive dissonance, however, facts should always trump emotion.
 

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