Our good friends at The Trace have just published what they call the gun violence reporting which inspired them in 2016. It’s a good, solid list and it contains some reportage that I hadn’t previously seen, so I recommend it highly for everyone in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community, as well as for everyone in Gun-nut Nation (I’m trying to be more compassionate and inclusive as we head into 2017.)
I’m going to steal a little thunder from the folks at The Trace and publish my own list of don’t-miss gun journalism, but in this case I’m going to nominate one article for my list known as The Dumbest Gun Article of the Year. Now you might think that I would nominate something written by John Blowhard Lott, or maybe an editorial from NRA-ILA, or perhaps a prancing video produced by Colion Noir, but nothing from Gun-nut Nation comes even close to making my dumbest list for the simple reason that I expect gun messaging from the Gang That Can’t Think Straight to be dumb. Anyone who sincerely believes that owning a gun makes him ‘free’ is simply incapable of understanding any discussion about anything that uses language taught beyond the second grade. Consequently, I reserve my concerns about dumb gun journalism for writers who should know better because they are allegedly crafting their messaging for folks from our side; i.e., the population that is concerned enough about gun violence to think and talk about it in intelligent terms.
Okay, enough with the forshpayz and here we go. For dumbest writing about guns in 2016 I nominate an article just published in GQ, written by someone named Ashley Fetters, entitled “Why Women Own Guns.” I did a quick online search and I can’t find any other article that Ms. Fetters has ever written about guns; her reporting specialties appear to focus on pop culture, a smattering of political stuff and some articles about restaurants and food. Now maybe she knows how to hold a knife and fork, but she sure doesn’t know how to hold a gun. Just take a look at the pic which leads off the story and notice that the lady’s trigger finger is stuck behind the trigger which is one place your trigger finger should never be. But that bit of stupidity pales with what comes next.
The article’s second sentence states that “a curiously large proportion of U.S. gun owners are women,” and then cites the standard NRA noise about women getting into shooting which has never been validated at all. She further says that a Harvard-Northeastern study found that 50% of gun owners with one gun are women, but what she doesn’t say is that most male gun owners own more than one gun. She then gushes over the comments made by four women gun-toters, including a woman who hucksters a product called the Flashbang Bra Holster which both gives her more ‘lift’ and puts her on equal ground with anyone who might do her harm.
Now here’s where things get about as stupid as they might get. The author wants you, the reader, to know why she’s writing this piece. Because she believes that “a gun isn’t just a weapon – it’s also an unambiguous way to signal to someone that they should fuck off and leave you alone.” Wow! How decisive! How hip! How cool! How…GQ! We are then treated to the requisite stories about the bad guy standing on the back porch and the stranger at the front door, both to convey the vulnerability of womenhood in the modern age.
Let me break the news to you gently Ashley. Gun-nut Nation has been peddling guns based on fear for the past thirty years, and the idea that women constitute a special type of victim if they venture outside the home is really rather quaint. Women are as capable today as men (if not moreso) of making informed decisions about everything in their lives. And grabbing a gun just isn’t all that informed.