Gun groups arming single women in high-crime neighborhoods

Chris sent me an article about a Houston pro-gun nonprofit, the Armed Citizens Project, that provides free shotguns to single women, and residents of high-crime neighborhoods. It’s a smart move, strategically.

One thing that’s always disturbed me about the NRA and other gun advocates is that they talk a good talk about self-protection, but their message always seems to be about protecting you from the government, not from the thug down the block.

And while protecting yourself from the government is crazy-talk, in addition to borderline sedition, the notion that “our neighborhoods aren’t safe” likely resonates with far more people.

And it’s something that gun opponents don’t address, or acknowledge, directly enough.  America has a violence problem.  In part because of the omnipresence of guns, to be sure.  But it’s a bit of a cultural catch-22 as well.

Guns help feed, and enable, the culture of violence, but the desire for guns is also a direct result of the violence that our country tends to be more prone to.  Street violence, in particular.  And the causes of street violence are many, but guns are only a part of it – they’re part cause, but also part symptom.

And while it’s easy to poke fun at gun nuts who claim they need their weapons to protect themselves against the Department of Homeland Security, it’s harder to poke holes in the notion that people in high crime areas need guns for protecting their homes.

Mom with gun via Shutterstock

Mom with gun via Shutterstock

The irony, of course, is that they need guns to protect their homes against the guns that are already on the street.

So, while one option is to arm more people, the other is to try to figure out how to disarm the street so people don’t need guns at home.  We’ve written before about one option: Raise the price of bullets.  Of course, there are other options as well, such as dealing with the root causes of crime on the street.  Part of that is poverty, and discrimination.  But part of it has also become cultural – the cool factor of owning a gun, committing crimes, and hurting people.

A cab driver was shot and killed a block away from my condo last week, here in DC.  It was 3 in the morning, he’d picked up a few guys in a relatively bad neighborhood, brought them here, and they tried to rob him.  When the cabbie refused to hand over the money, they shot him dead.  Fortunately there were some cops nearby.  The guys saw the cops and immediately started shooting at them.  The cops fired back.  One of the guys ran into a backyard and busted down the door of an English basement – the renter of which jumped out a window to get away.

It’s difficult to tell the renter, or the people who own the home and lived right upstairs, that owning a gun is a bad idea.  I’m not sure I wouldn’t buy a gun if some thug, who is willing to open fire on police officers, kicked down my door.  And that’s the conundrum that gun control advocates – and I consider myself one – face.

The NRA’s best argument in a violent country is to promote guns as a means to protect yourself against street violence.  That argument crosses all political lines.  Fortunately (well, perhaps “fortunate” isn’t the right word) for gun control advocates, the gun nuts are far more concerned with the government than they are with the real threat, day to day life in America.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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40 Responses to “Gun groups arming single women in high-crime neighborhoods”

  1. lew2048 says:

    I personally think we should all attempt to deal with reality. Then we don’t talk past each other in these debates, have some chance of actually solving real problems instead of the problems of our fantasy worlds.

    This study is not the first to refute claims of stricter gun control
    leads to less violent crimes. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and
    the U.S. National Academy of Sciences also released studies in 2003 and
    2004 respectively, with similar conclusions.
    The actual facts of the world are strongly against the anti-self-defense ideology, just as Afghanistan’s result is a refutation of the argument that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t have any effect on government.

    The studies cited by ‘mirror’ are the usual CDC funding medical people to do social science research. Kellerman’s study was an embarassment, these are as bad : No kidding, they prove that deciding to buy a guns means you are more likely to need them for defense or for ending your life, both goals we would all accept as completely rational in other contexts.

    Who could have guessed that people understand what tools they should have to deal with problems they might face?

    All of the explanations about ‘why not’ are so bogus, as the actual facts of the world very strongly support ownership of guns. We have nothing to fear from the average citizen, whatever they are armed with. We have a lot to fear from people with a history of violence, whatever they are armed with. The FBI’s data says that more effective defenses with more effective weapons improves outcomes for the victim.


  2. UncleBucky says:

    Hm, I also think that for some reason, the “shotgun” offer will produce fewer takers than a handgun. It might be an intentional part of the jumping the shark.


  3. karmanot says:

    A favorite of cops in California and when in doubt plant a weapon or drugs.

  4. BeccaM says:

    I’ve noticed that in all the pro-violence rhetoric, one of the first things to happen is the perceived ‘enemy’ is dehumanized, and the carnage trivialized.

  5. karmanot says:

    In Oakland—latch key kids—–horrible accidents await. These gun people are sick, sick, sick.

  6. karmanot says:

    LOL! and one with a walker attachment.

  7. S1AMER says:

    Make that a bifocal laser scope … we’re talking about seniors.

  8. Naja pallida says:

    I’ve been around guns all my life, in a military and law enforcement family of avid hunters. I have guns in the home, but I don’t think for an instant that if someone broke down my door at 3am, that I would be able to get to one, and operate it successfully, in a fear-laden half-awake daze… and I’m certainly not going to live my life in fear with a loaded gun always at my bedside. I’m not even sure what the end goal of this “program” is supposed to be, aside from a false sense of security.

  9. Zorba says:

    Now, now, Becc. I’m sure that at least a few of those kids would grow up to be decent human beings. ;-)

  10. Naja pallida says:

    Stupidity trumps safety every time.

  11. mirror says:

    Also, police officers are regularly found to have left their guns in places accessible to children and strangers. All the training in the world won’t change our imperfect natures.

  12. mirror says:

    Studies overwhelming show that a gun in a home is vastly more likely to kill a resident, friend, or family member than it is to protect anyone. This is especially true for women.

    For example: “A study of all gunshot injuries in Galveston, Texas, over a 3-year
    period found only 2 that were related to residential burglary or
    robbery. In one, the homeowner was shot and killed by a burglar; in the
    other, the homeowner shot the burglar. During the same interval, guns in
    the home were involved in the death and injury of more than 100
    residents, family members, friends, or acquaintances.”

  13. nicho says:

    Can I just take the cash?

  14. nicho says:

    Look at the situation in Florida, in which an intensively trained FBI agent to subdue an unarmed man needed six shots in the abdomen and another to the back of the head. What average Joe or Jane is going to be capable of that. Shooting at a paper target is one thing. Shooting at a living person is another. Why do you think the military spends so much time with recruits dehumanizing and depersonalizing the “enemy.” You’re not shooting at a person, you’re shooting at a “jihadi,” or “raghead,” whatever.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    Which is scary when you consider that in the vast majority of law enforcement agencies across the nation, one only has to qualify with their firearm once a year. Average training amounts to less than 15 hours a year, of target shooting and instruction. But if you asked the average person about it, I’m sure most people believe officers go to the range a couple times a week. When, in actuality, it’s the guys who are committing the crimes that are dedicating more time to training with their firearms.

  16. BeccaM says:

    You say that like it’s a downside.


  17. karmanot says:

    One could recycle the alligators for shoes, purses, briefcases, or end tables.—lamps, even!

  18. Zorba says:

    LOL! Or you might have to worry about neighborhood kids deciding to take a swim in the moat. ;-)

  19. karmanot says:

    Yep, I want one with a laser scope!

  20. BeccaM says:

    Yeah…the detail I’m wondering about: What happens when the person shot is a police officer.

  21. BeccaM says:

    For home defense, a shotgun makes a lot more sense than a handgun. Plus there’s the option of using rock-salt shells, which reduces the lethality factor quite a bit.

    Nevertheless, I’m have to side with “this isn’t a good idea unless the person being given the gun is highly motivated to learn how to handle it properly.” I come back time and time again to the same basic point: Being a responsible gun owner is mostly voluntary, with either no or disproportionately low penalties for being an irresponsible one.

    Coming back to my first point though: Giving people shotguns is about making a pro-gun point, not really about protecting oneself. A better choice would probably be to give out canisters of pepper-spray. The likelihood of killing someone with such is virtually nil, but it’s incapacitating enough to allow for escape.

  22. slappymagoo says:

    Can I bring my gun?

  23. KingCranky says:

    Exactly right, without intensive, ongoing combat training-paper targets in well lit, calm conditions don’t shoot back-this seems a bad idea all the way around.

    And then there’s the legal liability issue, does the group giving away the shotguns bear any, or do they get a complete free pass, criminally & civilly, if their actions result in the death of innocent victims?

    Who bears the financial costs for innocent victims gunned down by a scared armed civilian, the civilian, the group giving away shotguns, or the taxpayers?

    And it’s here in Texas, what could possibly go wrong?

  24. BeccaM says:

    Pfft. Forget alligators. You have to feed them and they’re not all that reliable.

    I say electrify that moat. Then the only thing you have to worry about after that is paragliding ninjas.

  25. Zorba says:

    Handguns need even more training to aim. A shotgun has scatter. With most of them, you only have to aim in the general direction to at least hit someone, so I would assume you are correct.

  26. slappymagoo says:

    I can’t speak for everyone (who do I think I am, Bill O’Reilly?) but I’m a gun control advocate that believes wholeheartedly in the right for all Americans, if they so choose, to bear arms.

    I’m also a realist who wouldn’t enter the homes of half the idiots I know if I found out they owned guns, because they’re a snarky dailykos post waiting to happen.

  27. Zorba says:

    Alligators. You’ve also got to have alligators in the moat! What if your fellow citizens can swim, after all? ;-)

  28. I was surprised about the shotgun thing, rather than a handgun, perhaps because it’s easier to aim.

  29. Jon G wrote a good post a while back, about training teachers in school to have guns, about how you get rusty after only 2 weeks without update training.

  30. Indigo says:

    I’m a senior citizen in an urban apartment complex. Why haven’t the gun-istas set up a program for my demographic yet?

  31. Yup. That’s the thing. Or a friend with a key stops by.

  32. I always figured that was just strategic – say you’re for guns, gut only in a limited way.

  33. slappymagoo says:

    Many gun control advocates aren’t against people owning guns per se. It’s about the types of guns, the capacity of the clips and how easy it is to get them.

    The only reason I give a crap about if everyone in America i armed is because quite a few people are a greater threat to themselves and others (and I don’t mean they’re a threat to the “bad guys”) with a gun than without. If they’re poorly trained, if they have poor judgment, if they’ve been drinking or drugging, if they have mental health issues, it’s far more likely they’ll shoot themselves or someone who isn’t a bad guy…

    …but if a bad guy happens to be around at the time, and can disarm the gun owner or pry it from his/her cold dead hand because of an accidental self-shooting, hey one more gun for crimes and mayhem.

  34. milli2 says:

    Want to make “bad” neighborhoods safer? End the insane drug war and bring jobs back to this country.

  35. SkippyFlipjack says:

    How soon will it be until one of these guns kills someone’s boyfriend who returned unexpectedly or its owner who was overwhelmed by an intruder?

  36. S1AMER says:

    I’m thinking about building myself a castle. With very thick walls. With a very wide and deep moat. So I can lock myself away and be safe from my fellow citizens.

    Anyone care to join me?

  37. Finn says:

    I’m just going to wait for the follow up post when one of these people (or their kids) actually uses their new gun on a human being in error, as will inevitably happen, before commenting .

  38. nicho says:

    Giving people guns without intensive — and constant — training is a horrible idea. People can be divided into two groups — those who would hesitate pulling the trigger to blow someone away and those who have an itchy trigger finger. If you hesitate, the bad guy will have no qualms about blowing you away. If you have an itchy trigger finger, then you’re going to blow away the neighbor knocking on your door to borrow a cup of sugar.

    To go to your example, John, of buying a gun to protect you from the guy kicking down your door at 3 a.m., where do you keep your gun? Under your pillow? Or do you keep it in a safe place — locked up? When someone starts kicking on your door at 3 a.m., do you ask him to hang on for a minute while you unlock your gun safe and get the ammo out of the desk drawer? Or maybe you just sleep in a chair in the living room all night, with your 12-gauge across your lap — springing into action every time you hear a noise in the street?

  39. UncleBucky says:

    A shotgun. A person who is nervous about anyone coming close. Less than average education, betcha. And I won’t go to the next point, but I’d like to.

    The result is another Zimmerman. I tell ya.

  40. sane37 says:

    more guns = more dead people = not good

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