Most women get it; many men don’t.
I don’t like generalizations, so I couch my language carefully here.
But a new poll (by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, one of those I respect most) proves my female intuition is right on the critical national issue of gun control.
Women want weapons of war off the streets.
They’re not so naive to think tougher laws will stop all violence. They don’t have any illusions about curbing this country’s lucrative black market in illegal weapons.
But women, especially those grieving the loss of children and siblings and partners lost to gun violence in this country, know that the NRA’s vision of America is not theirs.
Some of these women, such as Mothers Against Guns, have wept at the White House and before Congress for years.
Years. And not enough men in power listened.
American history shows men have not wanted to listen to women (indeed, wouldn’t let them vote until 1920), but women wait and use their strength quietly.
Now, the voice of women grows stronger, echoing across the country from Newtown, Connecticut.
A majority of women, two-thirds, want a ban on assault weapons.
No hunter I know supports assault weapons. (I asked a few; they’re appalled by the things.)
Only a third of women polled want armed teachers, while half of men do. More Americans support having armed guards and police at schools — 64% — which makes me wonder if the tyranny the NRA claims to fear won’t begin with the arrival of guns at all our schools.
I’ve covered so much violence in this country as a journalist, that I’ve seen the long-lasting damage caused by a single gun shot. As a counselor, I’ve been witness to the pain of survivors of violence. In both roles, I’ve heard the pain of families and communities from Columbine to Arkansas, and from L.A. to New York.
I don’t see any reason for hysteria about requiring more background checks and tightening gun laws. But then, as a survivor of a weapon of war, I don’t see any need for those guns on our streets either.
Women like me are being counted. We’ve signed a petition demanding tougher gun controls, and it has so many signatures, it broke a record.
The bullying of America
As a new citizen, I’m adding my voice to my signature, and looking to Gabrielle Giffords as my American mentor on this issue.
Gabby and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, both own guns. They’ve launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to find ways of curbing gun violence in the U.S. It’s a political action committee that is raising funds to “balance” the NRA’s bullying of America.
Every time I hear an NRA official use vengeful language against we, the people who want tougher gun laws, I think of Gabby. I think of how she lay dying from gunshot wounds in a country that argues endlessly about keeping its citizens safe, yet fails to protect the youngest and most vulnerable from mass killing.
Gabby and Mark wrote an opinion piece in USA Today explaining their initiative.
“This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small. Wise policy has conquered disease, protected us from dangerous products and substances …” they wrote. “But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we’re not even trying – and for the worst of reasons.”
Most women get it; many men don’t — but Mark Kelly, gun owner and spouse of a woman still recovering from gun violence, does. He lives with it, every day.