Thursday, August 02, 2007

Needles in Haystacks

...or barbs in strawmen as the case may be.

This is a continuation following up the last post. After reading about the dangers guns pose to kidlets, I came across this one about the wimmen folk also from the Brady site.

This one is so poorly presented that the required lapses in logic are beyond even my most irrational rantings. (I hope you enjoyed that last sentence as much as I did.)

I will first examine the opening sentence.
For years, the gun industry and gun lobby have perpetrated the myth that owning guns will protect women from violent crime.

I think this is incorrect. I cannot conclusively say that none from the gun industry or lobby has claimed that owning guns will protect women from violent crime. I do know that many have claimed using guns against violent criminals has protected them.

Myth: Guns protect women from gun violence.

Again, the wording is poor. It should read, "Using guns protects women from violence." Also notice the change of gun violence to just violence. As I have stated, the Brady Campaign seems set in their belief that gun violence is somehow worse than other violence.

Fact: Rates of female homicide, suicide and unintentional firearm death are
disproportionately higher in states where guns are more prevalent.

This might be correct but lacks substantive data. I checked its source and while it references other data, it is not available to the public at large. For it to be meaningful, it would have to be proven that the presense of firearms is the cause for higher suicide rates. The researchers themselves state that the evidence is circumstantial.

Fact: In the US, regions with higher levels of handgun ownership have higher suicide rates. Although women have higher rates of depression than men, it is the handgun-suicide connection, rather than depression, that accounts for higher suicide rates.

It also does not mention the attempted suicide rates as a whole. I have no problem believing that there are more "successful" suicides when guns are used. This still however begs the question, "If some other agent where used when committing suicide that were more prevalent, would it not be just as bad?"

Myth: Handgun ownership increases women’s ability to defend themselves.
Grammar mistakes aside... this should be worded, "Using handguns increases a women's ability to defend herself." Owning a handgun no more makes a person a good shooter than owning a set of golf clubs makes him a good golfer. It is important that should anyone choose to defend himself with a firearm, he should be proficient with it. This is especially important for women in general.

Fact: In 1998, women were 101 times more likely to be murdered with a handgun than to use a handgun to kill in self-defense. Women were 302 times more likely to be murdered with a handgun than to use a handgun to kill a stranger in self-defense. Women were 83 times more likely to be murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a handgun than to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense.

I am not sure why this fact is being used. It is completely irrelevant to the purported myth. It might be important if it stated, "...women were 101 times more likely to be murdered with their own handgun than to use their own handgun to kill in self-dense." The same applies for the second and third sentences too. The fact that for every one woman who chooses to defend herself there are 101 who do not supports just the opposite. If those 101 others where carrying (and knew how to use their firearms) at the time of their murder, would they still have been murdered?

Fact: In the rare cases in which women do use guns in self-defense, it is most commonly against an attacker known to them.

So if they know their attackers, they should not be allowed to defend themselves? This is also completely irrelevant and if anything, supports the opposite.

Myth: Guns protect women from rape.
I will keep doing this as long as I must... It should read, "Using guns against rapists protect women." Once worded correctly, it is not a myth and is nearly indisputable.

Fact: Guns are rarely used by rapists - less than 2 percent of rapes are committed with guns, while almost 70 percent are committed with personal weapons (physical violence). Women would be safer knowing self-defense to fight off an attacker than using a gun which can easily be turned against them.

Why does it matter what rapists use? If rapists are not using guns, that is all the better for women who have (and are able to use) guns. I am sure that the definition of "personal weapons" and their relation to "(physical violence)" is riveting and worthy of discussion but that is not important to the subject at hand.

Excuse the tangent: If a woman is going to have a gun, she should be able to use the gun. This is the same with knowing self-defense. Being able to break a brick with her hand will not help her at all if she will not hit her attacker. However, she can be a fifth degree black belt and that will be of little use to her if she is attacked by several men at once. If those men have guns, she is as helpless as a 80 year old woman with bone cancer unless she is armed herself.

Myth: Women need guns to protect against stranger rape.

Women need to use guns against rapists whether they know them or not. A woman must decide what she can face the rest of her life. If she cannot perish the though of killing someone, she needs to be able to shoot to wound. This requires a deal of skill. She may better serve her interests by learning to "deal with the thought."
Fact: Stranger rape is not the greatest danger for women as most women (75 percent) are raped by offenders known to the victim. 60 percent of rapes are
committed against victims under the age of 18 who are forbidden by law to own a gun.

Whoever wrote this cannot even stay within the confines of his own argument. The fact that most women know their attackers does not address those who are raped by strangers. Given the last two "myths" I am unable to determine if the author deems it acceptable to use a gun in self-defense regardless of the situation. It seems as if he is saying, "You may not use a gun to defend yourself against either someone you know or someone you don't know." The message may as well be, "Carry a condom and hope he'll use it."

The latter part may just as well be used to justify lowering the age of those who may have (and use) firearms. This is something that I have been considering for sometime.

I believe that if parents are willing to take the responsibility, their children should be able to carry firearms. That is a post for another time though.

It still does not take into account the other 40 percent. This time it seems as if the author is saying, "Minors cannot defend themselves when they are raped so adults cannot either."

My message to women (and pretty much everyone) is thus: Defend yourselves and your families by any and every means necessary. Know how to use your hands, your knives, and your guns. Know that anything is a weapon that you may use and that may be used against you. If you are mentally unstable, take some responsibility and do what you must to protect yourself and your family - even if that means separating yourself from them for a while. Never let anyone dictate to you how to protect yourselves. Hope for the best in all situations but be prepared for the worst.

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