Gun Activists Think Allowing Guns on Campus Will Protect Women

February 20th 2015

Alicia Lutes

Gun activists have decided on a new angle in their quest to get Americans armed: the prevention of on-campus sexual assault. Supporters and lawmakers alike are attempting to make the case that arming women will reduce sexual assault crimes— even though much data belies their argument. 

For years, supporters of on-campus carry laws have touted the belief that armed students and faculty members could potentially prevent mass shootings. When discussing the Virginia Tech shooting, for instance, NRA President Wayne LaPierre blamed "gun-free zones and anti-self defense laws that protected the safety of no one except the killers and condemned the victims to death without so much as a prayer."

But as most research will tell you, guns don't make women, or anyone, safer. According to The Atlantic's reporting, numerous studies confirm that "higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide," and the number of mass shootings that have been stopped by an armed civilian in the past 30 years is still at zero according to an investigation done by Mother Jones. And then there's the study from The Annals of Internal Medicine. In it, the American College of Physicians found that, in their subgroup analysis of firearm accessibility risks, that "women had significantly higher odds of homicide victimization than men."

And we can't run away from the fact that women in the United States — despite making up only one-third of the developed world's female population — account for 84 percent of all female gun violence victims, according to data from the Violence Policy Center.

But still, there are bills getting passed by politicians stumping on speculative thinking rather than actual, proven-time-and-time-again facts. Like the Florida bill that passed after State Representative Dennis K. Baxley asserted that it would be the fault of the institution if a person was raped because they were unable to defend themselves with a gun. Or Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who wondered allowed to the New York Times in response to her own state's similar bill, "If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them." Putting aside the unbelievably sexist positioning of her statement — "hot little girls"? Really? —  both stand behind a belief that ignores the facts. 

There are also other important questions that should be raised when arming young women. How easy would it be for her assailant to overpower her? To drug her and take away the gun? To, in a fit of rage over being rejected, take that gun and shoot the woman instead? 

Perhaps John D. Foubert, president of sexual assault educational program One In Four, summed it up best to the Times. "If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun." There are far too many variables outside of the hero complex that ultimately drives supporter arguments of carrying laws.