“Not all women are going to choose to have a gun to defend themselves, but they should be able to have that choice, to have that essential liberty to defend themselves.”
Gayle Trotter didn’t set out to be the voice of a woman’s right to choose. The Washington, DC- based attorney and mother of six has a “special interest in Constitutional law and the liberties that were so costly obtained for us.” She made her first public comments about the Second Amendment in the wake of the Aurora, CO shootings last summer and the public discussions on gun violence and mental illness.
Then, after penning an article slamming post-Newtown gun control efforts and saying “gun control efforts will hurt women the most,” she was approached to testify in a hearing before the United States Senate. Though she pointed out 21 cases in which woman used a firearm for protection from a violent crime, women’s rights advocates and groups went after her, calling her views extreme and out of touch. A man who serves with Trotter on a neighborhood council in Washington, DC even said he didn’t think he would vote for her for chairman again because of these views.
Of these comments, she says, “[the] firestorm of controversy from my testimony I think was driven because I had a pro-woman argument but it came to a different result than a lot of people would like. And so then that was caricatured into a pseudo-feminist argument, when if you really explore what I was saying, it is intended to give women the choice to exercise a fundamental Constitutional right, and we want to make sure that we preserve all the options for women that the Supreme Court has already said they should have.”
Some observers feared that because of the backlash other women would be hesitant to speak out against gun control. Trotter admits that she too was afraid of this immediately after her testimony, but, “I got so many people, strangers, from all across the country reaching out to and telling me, whether they agreed with me or not, how courageous I was. And I was surprised by that reaction, too, because I was just was doing what I had been asked to do and what I felt was the right thing to answer in that circumstance.”
In the wake of the debate stirred up by her testimony, she believes “the tide has turned a little bit, and it’s made people who just reflexively think guns are dangerous, guns shouldn’t be around kids, guns are more likely to cause harm, I think it’s changed that reflex opinion and made them really consider that guns can make women safer.”
Though her Senate testimony focused on examples of how young mothers have chosen to defend themselves using firearms, Trotter believes that gun control harms all women – young, old, single, married, mother or not – even those women who choose not to own a firearm. “I know that women get benefits whether or not they own guns. Some women choose to own guns; some women benefit from others owning guns.”
“Guns make women safer. More than 90 percent of violent crimes occur without a gun, which is a shocking statistic. We’re talking about gun violence, but most violent crime occurs without a gun. The women we’re talking about are not mean, violent criminals, so even if you have a gun it’s going to be a difficult feat. But at least it gives you a chance. Because otherwise you’re stuck with – they have all these things about what to do. You can scream, you can throw something at the person, but is that really going to work? That’s the most ridiculous thing. Hide under your desk?”
As for the gentleman who serves with Trotter on her Neighborhood Council, she has this response. “It’s an uncomfortable truth that guns make women safer. So he has his opinions, but the reality is that guns make women safer, and he can’t understand to the same degree that women can because he doesn’t have the same situation that women do. I really like him a lot. We’ve gotten to know each other a lot the past few months, and I’m not surprised at his reaction, because it’s kind of a jarring wake-up call for people who assume that they know what’s best for women, but in reality it’s not good for women.”
*Crossposted at ViralRead
Update 9/5/13: The California Legislature has passed several gun control bills that limit 2nd Amendment rights and a woman’s right to choose how to defend herself. To urge Gov. Jerry Brown to veto these bills, please visit http://www.demandrights.org and sign the petition – and pass it on!