Gun Control is a Feminist Issue
As Valentine’s Day came and went, many people found themselves spending this day dedicated to loving their partner and eating chocolate to instead grieve and reflect on their lost loved ones. On the day of the one year anniversary of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, many found themselves dragging through the mundane actions that Thursday brought with a ping of sadness lingering in the back of their minds. We reflect on the past, we pray for families, grieve for loved ones, and discuss how far this country still has to go on the topic of common sense gun laws. However, what many have considered in the past, and continue to consider, is the idea that gun control is a feminist issue.
Let’s consider the incident in Parkland. According to the National Women’s Law Center, prior to taking an AR-15 and brutally murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Nikolas Cruz had shown signs of violent mindedness: abusing women. He was abusive towards his ex-girlfriend and was expelled after getting in a fight with her new boyfriend. His math teacher commented he stalked one of the other female students. And another male student commented that he cut off his friendship with Cruz after he (Cruz) went after and threatened one of his (the student’s) female friends. Yet the superintendent of the Broward County School District claimed that they encountered no warnings or signs that Cruz would commit such a heinous act. Is it possible that the school overlooked violent tendencies among Cruz in regards to women, simply because it’s all too common? I mean, sure, men sometimes get angry and lash out against a woman they were with, but that wouldn’t mean they’d be violent in nature, right?
Internalizing that statement may make the answer “yes” seem blatantly obvious, yet to many out there, that connection is not made. Yet researchers spot a pattern. The perpetrators of mass shootings in the U.S. are overwhelmingly male dominant with a history of abusive behavior or misogynistic ideals. Out of all the mass shootings in America from 1982 to November 2018, 103 shootings were committed by men, 3 by women, and 1 was a joint attack by a man and a woman. One hundred three. Let that number sink in. Jarrod Ramos stalked and harassed a woman he went to high school with prior to the mass shooting he conducted in Annapolis, Maryland. Dimitrios Pagourtzis sexually harassed Shana Fisher for four months before making her one of his 10 victims at Santa Fe High School. Devin Patrick Kelley, abuser towards his wife and child, murdered 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. James T. Hodgkinson was previously arrested for assaulting his girlfriend before shooting at a group of Congressional representatives gathered in a Virginia park. Omar Mateen, assassin of 49 members of the LGBTQ community and injuring 58 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was found to have beat and terrorized both his former wife and his now widow. Robert Lewis Dear was accused by two of his ex wives of physical abuse, and had been arrested for raping a woman he previously harassed before opening fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, an organization dedicated to helping women in need of their services. Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured 14 others near UC Santa Barbara, left traces of online hate speech, indicating a feeling of his possession of women who owed him sex and threats towards interracial couples, following a similar revolting ideology to Charleston shooter Dylann Roof.
This pattern has become all too clear, and will continue to outline itself as long as people continue to not believe women. The lack of importance dedicated to issues of bigotry and abuse against women will only spur future acts of violence towards others. When a woman tells of the abuse she has undergone at the hands of a man, the world must begin to believe her. If a man demonstrates abusive actions, bigoted hate speech, harassive tendencies, or anything else along those lines, it seems as though it should be obvious that they could not be trusted with a weapon. Yet to many in this nation who don’t take violent words or actions against women seriously, it is anything but obvious. And the lives of others pay the price for this ignorance. Gun Control is a feminist issue, and until it is treated as such, this issue will continue to linger on.