Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ruth Marcus's Phony Anti-Gun Argument

I don't think this by Ruth Marcus is very good.

Marcus considers the following:

“Guns make women safer,” Gayle Trotter of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at its Wednesday hearing on gun violence. “For women, the ability to arm ourselves for our protection is even more consequential than for men. Because guns are the great equalizer in a violent confrontation. As a result, we protect women by safeguarding our Second Amendment rights. Every woman deserves a fighting chance.”
And writes:

This argument would be powerful, if only it were true. The facts suggest precisely the opposite.
First, women are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence than to benefit from using a gun in self-defense.
Second, the restrictions under discussion would not harm women. They would either make women safer or, at the very least, not impede their ability to use guns in self-defense.
On the threat that guns pose to women, consider: Women are far less likely to be the victims of gun violence than men. But they are far more likely than men to be killed by someone they know, generally a spouse or partner.
Women with a gun in the home were nearly three times as likely to be the victim of homicide than women living in a home without firearms, according to a 2003 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The whole discussion strikes me as a bit weird as does any such discussion that focuses on one sex or a specific racial or ethnic group. But that's a different point for a different time.

If Marcus means that women, qua women, have basically only the same interest men have in the availability of assault weapons, then I think she's right. However...though I'm inclined to agree with Marcus here, the discussion is precisely about whether we should be willing to purchase shorter-term safety from assault-weapon-toting maniacs at the cost of surrendering some of our ability to not only protect the state from invasion, but also protect ourselves from the state should it go bad. I'm not taking a position on that here, I'm just pointing out that Marcus is assuming what has yet to be proven.

But the first point, and the subsequent discussion of it, is suspect, I think.

Trotter says that guns make women safer. If she means that women are safer overall and right now because there are more guns, then the dispute about this point reduces to a discussion of the other point. And, if she means that a woman is safer on average just for having a gun in the house, then the information Marcus sites seems to refute that. But I don't see that that is what Trotter can mean. Trotter must mean that a woman who arms herself is safer than a woman who doesn't. Marcus responds by saying that women are more likely to be harmed if there's a gun in the house. But those guns are typically the guns of their husbands and boyfriends. And the women in question are women who have typically made bad choices about husbands and boyfriends.

Thus both Trotter and Marcus might be right--Marcus that women are worse off if there's a gun in their house, Trotter that women are better off if they have the option of arming themselves.

This seems, in some respect, like the whole debate in microcosm. Overall, we might all be safer in the short term if there were fewer firearms, because so many of them are possessed by bad, stupid, and irresponsible people. However, the left tries to make it seem as if this shows that even good, smart and responsible people are better off without access to firearms, and this is certainly false. However, policy typically gets made for everyone at once...which means that, though the good, smart and responsible people might be better off with firearms, it might be best if everyone is better off without them. (Though I doubt it.)


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