Thursday, July 14, 2005

A feminist take on the Supreme Court Gonzales case

At the end of the last Supreme Court term, there was a flurry of rulings. I wrote on several of them, including that of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, a case where the Supreme Court ruled there is no Constitutional right to police protection for individuals who have obtained a restraining order. Today, I took note of the iFeminists column over on Fox where Wendy McElroy has some good advice for members of NOW.

::::::::The post-mortem discussion on Gonzales has been fiery but it has missed an obvious point. If the government won't protect you, then you have to take responsibility for your own self-defense and that of your family. The court's ruling is a sad decision, but one that every victim and/or potential victim of violence must note: calling the police is not enough. You must also be ready to defend yourself.


Of course, the Gonzales case — in and of itself — presents difficulties for the use of armed force by private citizens. Would the same police who believed Simon Gonzales was not dangerous have believed Jessica to be justified in picking up a gun to protect her children from him? Would the police have charged her for use of a weapon? Regardless, these sticky debates would probably be taking place in the presence of three living children and not three dead ones.

Nevertheless, most anti-domestic violence advocates strenuously avoid gun ownership as a possible solution to domestic violence. Instead, they appeal for more police intervention even though the police have no obligation to provide protection.

When groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) do focus on gun ownership, it is to make such statements as, "Guns and domestic violence make a lethal combination, injuring and killing women every day."

In short, NOW addresses the issue of gun ownership and domestic violence only in order to demand a prohibition on the ability of abusers — always defined as men — to own weapons.

That position may be defensible. But it ignores half of the equation. It ignores the need of potential victims to defend themselves and their families. Anti-domestic violence and women's groups create the impression that guns are always part of the problem and never part of the solution.

The current mainstream of feminism — from which most anti-domestic violence advocates proceed — is an expression of left liberalism. It rejects private solutions based on individual rights in favor of laws aimed at achieving social goals. A responsible individual holding a gun in self-defense does not fit their vision of society.

In the final analysis, such advocates do not trust the judgment of the women they claim to be defending. They do not believe that Jessica Gonzales' three children would have been safer with a mother who was armed and educated in gun use.

NOW's position on guns and gun ownership has never made sense to be. Taken as a whole, it can be said with confidence that men are more capable fighters than women. We are larger, stronger, usually faster, and hardwired with more aggression and less restraint in its use. Up against an opponent like that, you either train better - something you'll never know you've achieved until it's too late to do anything about it - or you arm yourself. Even equally armed, there's a lot less difference in fighting ability between men and women when the key skill is marksmanship and the strength of your back is immaterial. Feminist groups like NOW should be allies with the NRA, not enemies, but there's that whole "private citizen with gun = bad" thing the liberal left seems to be saddled with. They need to break away from that particular component and start thinking on the matter rationally, especially in light of what that Supreme Court ruling has done to their protective barrier.