The National Rifle Association may be hurting financially, but that hasn’t stopped them from tapping into America’s obsession with firearms. On Sunday, Mother’s Day, the NRA posted a photo of pint-sized gun influencer Autumn Fry with her mother, who appeared to be holding an AR-15, a favorite among the nation’s most notorious mass shootings. “Mama didn’t raise a victim” is splayed across the photo with the following caption: “Happy Mother’s Day to all NRA moms! On top of the millions of other jobs moms have, NRA moms fight for our right to self-defense, while also defending themselves, their families, and communities. We are forever grateful for these fierce women.”
Meanwhile, on Mother’s Day alone, there were at least 79 shootings tracked by the Gun Violence Archive, resulting in dozens of injuries and deaths. One of the most grisly was a mass shooting at a birthday party in Colorado.
From the New York Times, emphasis ours:
The police said that a birthday party was being held for one of the victims in a home in the park and that “friends, family and children were gathered inside” when the shooting occurred.
The gunman, who was not publicly identified, was “a boyfriend of one of the female victims,” the police said. He drove to the home, walked inside “and began shooting people at the party before taking his own life,” the police said.
The NRA relies on the myth that gun ownership makes women safer, and this incident of apparent intimate partner violence is exactly what the NRA would use as a rationale for why women should be armed to the teeth. It’s only a matter of time before gun nuts lament that all of this could have been avoided if only the women were carrying handguns (even though armed civilians are rarely successful at stopping active shooters).
But there’s little evidence indicating that women are less likely to be harmed if they have a gun. There is, however, evidence that women who own guns are at higher risk of injury or death.
From The Trace:
Every credible scientific study of women and guns in the last two decades strongly indicates that a firearm in a woman’s home is far more likely to be used against her or her family than to defend against an outside attacker. Increasing gun ownership by women would only heighten that risk.
The bottom-line statistic that most broadly assesses the relationship between women and firearms was determined by research conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee. That study, from 1997, concluded that the presence of a firearm in a woman’s home triples the odds that she will be killed.
Usually, the person using a gun against a woman — contrary to Ted Cruz’s assertions — is not a stranger, but someone she knows, frequently an intimate partner. As The Trace previously noted, an average of 554 American women are fatally shot by romantic partners every year. That works out to a domestic violence gun homicide with a female victim once every 16 hours.
Knowing how to use a gun properly is a skill that, I’d argue, everyone should have, whether they own a firearm or not. In a country riddled with them, it doesn’t hurt to know how to use one safely. Still, the idea that victims of gun violence, as the NRA’s Instagram post suggests, were raised by ineffectual parents who were uninterested in teaching their children how to defend themselves is absurd. Whether you’re a highly trained civilian, or a small child indulging in rapid-fire rounds for Instagram likes, if the last few decades of gun violence and mass shootings in American have taught us anything, it’s that it’s alarmingly easy to become another statistic.