Whether she knows it or not, feature writer for The Beast, Keli Goff, has just published an article about the alleged increase of women in the shooting sport which reads right out of the NRA-NSSF playbook on how to win friends and influence people about guns without knowing anything about guns. Keli has unquestioned liberal credentials and a piece she did last year on guns and ghetto crime said all the right things from a GVP perspective, but this time she seems to have gone into the deep water and I’m not sure that her life-jacket can keep her afloat.
Keli begins by noting what we all know, namely, that recent surveys show that the popular mood has shifted from gun control to gun rights, and since women have historically been more supportive of gun control than men, Keli uses the shift from gun control to gun rights as proof that women are increasingly interested in guns.
Of course making assumptions about the relationship between public opinion surveys and buying habits is one thing; proving a connection is something else. But having obviously done well in Journalism 101, Keli knows that she needs to come up with some real numbers in order to prove her point. And since the FBI doesn’t track or aggregate gender data from the NICS checks (I know, because I asked the FBI for this data) and at least 40% of all gun transactions occur without any background check at all (I believe this figure to be correct), Keli has no choice but to support her argument by going to what she hopes will be a credible, second-hand source.
And what source does she use? The NRA, which is about as reliable a source for valid information about the gun business as Exxon would be a valid source for the effects of global warming. So it should come as no surprise to the readers of Keli’s column that the NRA claimed that between 2004 and 2011 there had been a 77% increase in the number of women who own guns. Now even if this number is true, all it really reflects is that before 2004 the participation of women in the shooting sports was virtually nil.
It would be wrong to assume there hasn’t been an uptick in female ownership of guns. After all, more than 40% of all households now count women as the primary earner and traditional male-female gender roles continue to blur or disappear. If there has been any slight increase in lady shooters, however, it is largely due to the unending attempt by the gun industry to use right-wing noisemakers like Dana Loesch and the slightly over-the-hill Sarah Palin to promote female ownership of guns.
Know what’s really changed as regards women and guns? It’s the degree to which women have moved to the forefront of the effort to limit, not expand gun ownership, a subject that Keli Goff handles in a rather disjointed and unfair way. To be sure she was careful to grab a few quotes from two female GVP activists, Donna Dees Thomases and Colette Martin, but she then contrasts the alleged growth of female gun owners to a “lack of momentum” in the gun-control movement of today.
Let me break the news to you gently, Ms. Goff. I have been involved with guns since 1965 and I have never seen a GVP movement as determined, widespread and active as what I now see. And whether it’s Colette, Donna, Shannon and so many others, what stands out in the current GVP environment is the energy, activity and public presence of women who want to see gun violence come to an end.
Keli – your story is not just short on facts, it’s a slap in the face to women whose efforts have levelled the playing field with the NRA. Your article represents quickie, digital journalism at its worst, and other than wishing you a Merry Christmas, there’s nothing more to say.