Earlier this month, a pink Smith & Wesson M&P pistol (which was customized to the specifications of chamion competitive shooter Julie Goloski Golob) was auctioned on GunBroker.com by the seller Donna’s Store (donnasstore). The seller of this pistol pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds to a breast cancer awareness charity. Rather than acknowledging the commendable philanthropic effort on the part of the seller, and the benefit of arming more women for self defense, the Center for Media and Democracy posted an article that blamed guns for violence against women and suggested that this was just an attempt at “exploiting breast cancer as a marketing device.” Excerpts from that article, along with my responses, are below:
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the group Breast Cancer Action seized on the opportunity to promote its Think Before you Pink campaign to raise awareness of how companies are increasingly exploiting breast cancer as a marketing device to sell products — some of which are actually harmful to women’s health. Pink ribbon campaigns are offering up some bizarre, albeit benign products like a breast cancer awareness toaster and a breast cancer awareness floating Beer Pong table.
If the goal is awareness of breast cancer, then it would seem that just about any product that gets people to think about breast cancer more often would help accomplish that goal. Sticking with the pink toaster as an example, I can say that seeing a pink toaster would probably breast cancer to the front of my mind, for a least a second – and that would likely be a full second more than I think about it on an average day. Also, I would note that the toaster manufacturer’s breast cancer awareness program has raised millions of dollars to fight breast cancer. The fact that the company selling a pink toaster also profits doesn’t strike me as a problem at all. However, I don’t wish to stray too far away from guns, so I’ll leave a discussion of corporate philanthropy to other websites.
But the most bizarre item yet to have a pink ribbon slapped on it must be Smith & Wesson’s Pink Breast Cancer Awareness 9 mm Pistol, promoted by a woman named Julie Goloski, Smith and Wesson’s Consumer Program Manager and a sharpshooter herself. Goloski is promoting S&W’s breast cancer awareness pistol on her Facebook page, saying “October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness M&P’s are shipping to dealers. I am thrilled to have my name associated with such a worthy cause and one of my favorite firearms.” According to a 2008 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, firearms are the second most common cause of violent deaths of women, accounting for 29.2% of all violent deaths among females in the U.S. in 2008.
To recap, this GunBroker.com auction is one woman’s efforts at raising funds for and awareness of breast cancer, by selling a pink pistol that is endorsed by a successful female competitive shooter. That effort by women, to benefit women, is about as pro-woman as can be. I find the Center for Media and Democracy’s disparaging of this effort to be misguided. To be fair, it is certainly true that criminals use guns to harm women – however criminals also use poison, cars, knives, crow bars, and just about every other imaginable tool to harm women. Indeed, looking at the same CDC statistics cited by the Center for Media and Democracy, poison is the most common cause of violent death for women, and poison-related deaths surpassed the firearms-related death toll by nearly 200. When a woman (or anyone else) is harmed, it is because of the intentional actions of a criminal. Singling out a tool that can be used for good or evil purposes, then blaming that tool (which isn’t even the most common cause of death) seems unreasonable to me.
I would also note that opposing gun ownership, or even instituting gun bans, doesn’t keep criminals from using guns to harm women. As an example, this British woman was raped and robbed in her own home by criminals who ignored the Britain’s nation-wide gun ban. These Chicago women were kidnapped and raped at gunpoint, allegedly by a convicted felon who ignored the Chicago handgun ban, the state law against carrying a loaded gun, and the federal and state laws that ban convicted felons from having a gun. This woman and her young daughter jumped out of a second floor window and landed face-first on the pavement, while trying to escape from a masked home invader who violated multiple state and local laws by having a gun. Moving beyond examples, recent statistics as well as historical statistics make clear the fact that gun control laws don’t disarm criminals. That is because criminals, by definition, break the law – and a gun control law is just one more law for them to break. Those criminals willing to break the law against murder, which the most severely punished crime in our society, surely aren’t afraid of breaking the less severely punished gun laws. Whether they smuggle guns into the country, steal guns from the police, buy gun on the black market, or use one of the hundreds of millions of guns that are already in the country, a criminal who wants a gun can and will get one, just as they can get illegal drugs.
Indeed, even when neither criminals nor their female victims have a gun, the woman tends to lose. That is because the majority of people who attack females are male, and as a matter of biology and/or cultural norms, men tend to be physically stronger than women. As an example, this 24 year old woman was in excellent physical shape and had martial arts training – yet a 61 year old drifter was able to physically overpower, kidnap, and murder her, all without a gun. Similarly, this young woman was attacked in her home by an unarmed older man. Despite fighting back and even breaking her hand in the process, that woman was unable to stop her attacker from breaking every bone in her face, raping her, and beating her to death. As a final example, I would not the tragic murder of this 21 year old woman, who was alone in her home when an intruder broke in. She was able to dial 911, but not able to speak after the call was connected. She was found stabbed, strangled, and beaten to death in her own kitchen. In each of those case, and the many more that occur every day, unarmed women are unable to defend themselves against their attackers, even when those attackers don’t have a gun.
However, when women are armed, they are in the best position possible to defend themselves against violent attackers. To just give a few examples, this armed woman used her handgun to save herself and her young children from a home invading attacker who broke in before the police could answer her 911 call. This armed woman used her gun to stop violent ex who broke into her home and cornered her in her bedroom. This armed woman was able to defend herself against a rapist who came back to rape her for a second time in a week. This armed woman allegedly used her handgun to stop her violent husband from killing her and the other members of her family. This 85 year old armed woman held a young burglar at gunpoint and made him call the police on himself. This armed woman stopped an attacker who tried to ambush her. This armed pregnant woman used a shotgun to scare away two home invaders. This armed female school teacher used a gun to save herself from a convicted felon who broke into her home, while this armed woman saved herself and her family from a pair of armed, kidnappers. I could go on with many more examples, but the point should be clear: having a gun allows many women to save themselves from violent attack.