Opinion: Guns offer no solutions for violence
Free Press Opinion Columnist
On Feb. 14, nearly a million women participated in One Billion Rising events in more than two hundred countries around the world. The annual events were in honor of the one in three women and girls, totaling one billion worldwide, who are survivors of rape or domestic violence.
Here in Grand Junction, survivors shared horrific stories about their personal experiences with gender violence. One young woman told about the night she was certain her husband was finally going to kill her. She managed to lock her two toddlers and baby into her car before he knew what was happening. After years of abuse, she escaped with him on the car, screaming death threats and pounding on the windows.
As women joined together and took a stand against violence, not one of them called for more guns. We know that guns are more likely to be used to harm us than to protect us. We know that women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be murdered if their abuser has a gun and that two-thirds of all women shot to death are murdered by men from past or present relationships. We know, too, that all the guns in the world will not stop violence.
To find the sort of people who advocate for guns to reduce violence, a few friends and I went to Denver last week where the House Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony about Representative Jared Wright’s House Bill 14-1157, which would arm school lunch ladies and teachers.
Shortly into the public testimony period, it became clear which side people were on before they even said a word. In the two hours I was there, not a single man stood in opposition. Woman after woman argued that violence, or the threat of violence, does not reduce violence and that schools need to focus on educating and nurturing our children.
Most of the men who argued for guns in schools represented special interest groups such as a weapons manufacturer and law enforcement and security agencies. A Larimer County Sheriff’s Deputy argued that school personnel should be armed because, in counties such as his, it can take 30-60 minutes for law enforcement to respond to a call.
In response to our arguments that teachers should focus on educating children rather than preparing to shoot them, candidate for Secretary of State, Representative Mark Waller, suggested that schools replace teachers with armed security officers and have the security officers fill in with extra duties — “like teaching math and English.”
My friends and I were pleased when Representative Wright popped into the hearing to listen to a bit of testimony, figuring it would be good for him to know that many of his constituents oppose addressing issues with violence. I’m sure I agree with that man about nothing, but I can’t deny I was disappointed when he walked out of my testimony after hearing I was from Grand Junction and missed my friends’ statements.
Guns offer no solutions for violence altogether. When we visited Wright later in his chambers, he talked about a new material which would make bullet-proof vests practical for all teachers to wear.
This week, Wright has another bill which will be presented to committee. This one would make it easier for domestic violence offenders to obtain guns. I’m not sure if it includes a provision about bullet-proof vests for the women and children these men have abused, but I’ll be there opposing it anyway.
It’s not up to women and teachers to pick up the slack when communities refuse to fund law enforcement. It’s not our fault that voters elect city council members and county commissioners who gut law enforcement, education, and health and human services.
No matter how loudly gun advocates argue that we are responsible for violence perpetuated against us when we refuse to carry guns or that we are violating their rights when we say oppose guns in schools, we will continue to stand in support of common sense gun laws. As the number one recipients of violence, women know that more guns will solve nothing. We can be more stubborn and persistent than any man, and we’re not going away.
A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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