Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich this week told students at Iowa State University that guns “can be a woman’s best defense against a sexual assault,” and called opposition to campus carry laws a ploy to turn women into victims “in order to uphold an anti-gun political philosophy.”
Pavlich dedicated most of her talk to arguing that guns make women safer while feminism has the exact opposite effect. Let’s dispense quickly with Pavlich’s first point because it’s a baseless argument and a completely bananas thing to say given everything we know about firearms and violence against women. And since I have written about the data on women and guns so many times before, I’m just going to quote myself here:
Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. The presence of a firearm during a domestic violence incident increases the likelihood of a homicide by 500 percent. Guns are also regularly used in non-fatal incidents of domestic violence, with researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health concluding in a study from 2000 that “hostile gun displays against family members may be more common than gun use in self-defense, and that hostile gun displays are often acts of domestic violence directed against women.”
And despite Pavlich’s claim that “nearly 300,000 women use handguns every year to defend themselves against sexual assault,” there is also virtually no available data on self-defense gun use in sexual violence cases. As Timothy Johnson noted on Thursday at Media Matters, FBI statistics on self-defense gun use put the number of incidents documented for men and women — for all violent crimes over a five-year period — just short of 240,000.