And, further, as of a few days ago, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, announced that women can now serve in combat roles in the military. Some may not agree with this decision. As always, the details will be worked out but in principle, it is an acknowledgement that women have actually been on the front lines of battle in recent wars and have the wounds as proof. Newly elected Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is one such example. Women are generally tired of being denied equal access to jobs, to health care, to promotions in the military and at other jobs, to vote ( thankfully that has been taken care of a long time ago), to be elected to office, to being told what to do with their bodies and being victims of domestic abuse and rape.
Women are standing up in great numbers to change the gun violence prevention discussion. This article shows the gender gap for support for reasonable gun legislation.
Women are more likely than men to support stronger gun laws, even before any specific gun laws are described. In the Post-Newtown climate, all major outlets releasing data by gender show a nearly identical pattern. CBS/New York Times shows a gender gap of +14 points for support for "more strict" gun laws (women: 61 percent "more strict"). And Democratic-leaning outlet PPP shows a similar +16 point gap in support for "Congress passing stricter gun laws" (women: 61 percent support). Pew also shows a 13-point gender gap in support for "controlling gun ownership" over "protecting the right of Americans to own a gun" (women: 57 percent "control gun ownership").Wow. That is significant. And there's more from this article (above):
The Washington Post/ABC poll reveals women are more likely than men to say Newtown has made them more supportive of stronger gun laws (58 percent among women, 45 percent among men). But this gender gap existed pre-Newtown. Since 1991 Gallup has consistently found a double-digit gender gap in support for "more strict" gun laws. Similarly, Pew data in recent years shows majorities of women prioritize "controlling gun ownership" while majorities of men prioritize "protecting the right of Americans to own a gun." "Women leaders ( and others) in the Catholic church are taking the lead to call on pro-life Congress members to support reasonable gun laws. Their point is well taken. From the article:
Listen to the moral and religious leaders of the Catholic church and many other denominations who are calling out our leaders for standing by the NRA lobbyists instead of the victims. When we see preventing gun violence as a moral imperative, it changes the discussion. Listen to women. Women see things differently as do religious leaders. Sure, some women own guns and share the views of some of the men gun owners. They are clearly in the minority there, too, and may have changed their views since 20 small children were massacred on 12/14/12. The polling shows that to be true, including gun owners (some of whom are women) who believe in reasonable gun laws.“Our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart. There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona. More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy,” wrote the dozens of Catholic leaders. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently renewed their call for measures to address gun violence by echoing their 2000 statement, ‘Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice.’ Bishops have called for ‘measures that control the sale and use of firearms’ and ‘sensible regulations of handguns.’ The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in a 1994 document, ‘The International Arms Trade,’ urges political leaders ‘to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms’ and states that ‘limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.’“All of us need to work against the glorification of violence, remedy our inadequate mental health services and address the breakdown of family support structures. No single law or set of regulations will prevent all tragedies, but the complexity of this urgent challenge must not be an excuse for protecting the status quo when it comes to regulating the sale and use of lethal weapons,” write the Catholic leaders. “President Obama and Members of Congress can honor the memories of those killed in Newtown, Conn., and work to prevent future tragedies by acting now.”Americans can and do disagree over reproductive rights and gun control, and even about the precise definition of the term pro-life.”But what these Catholic leaders have done is about more than just language. They are challenging Paul Ryan and his congressional compatriots to think more deeply—not just about the positions and policies they espouse but “to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.”
The first Million Mom March in 2000 was organized by women and largely attended by women. A new group is making waves. They are the One Million Moms for Gun Control. Supporters are added every day and the group is gaining national attention. In only one month several women organized a march on the national Mall in Washington D.C., held yesterday:
While she’s never organized a political march before, Smith said she was compelled to press for a change in the law. The march organizers support Obama’s call for gun control measures. They also want lawmakers to require gun safety training for all buyers of firearms.
“With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me. And then, it’s as if I move on,” Smith said. “And in this moment, I can’t move on. I can’t move on.
“I think it’s because it was children, babies,” she said. “I was horrified by it.”
After the Connecticut shootings, Smith began organizing on Facebook. The group One Million Moms for Gun Control, the Washington National Cathedral and two other churches eventually signed on to co-sponsor the march. Organizers have raised more than $50,000 online to pay for equipment and fees to stage the rally, Smith said.
Lawmakers from the District of Columbia and Maryland rallied the crowd, along with Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund and Colin Goddard, a survivor from the Virginia Tech massacre.
Goddard said he was shot four times at Virginia Tech and is motivated to keep fighting for gun control because what happened to him keeps happening — and nothing’s been done to stop it.
“We are Americans,” he said, drawing big cheers. “We have overcome difficulties when we realize we are better than this.”
Smith said she supports a comprehensive look at mental health and violence in video games and films. But she said the mass killings at Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., all began with guns.
“The issue is guns. The Second Amendment gives us the right to own guns, but it’s not the right to own any gun,” she said. “These are assault weapons, made for killing people.”Women, religious groups and others are working hand in hand with other gun violence prevention groups to make sure that common sense gun laws are passed. These women represent also the majority of Americans who are now women ( by a slim majority) and they know we are better than this. They want action. Everyone has a mom and when it comes to children, don't mess with the moms. We all know that making our gun laws stronger is not going to be easy. We are facing a strong group of powerful lobbyists "armed" with money and bravado. Though they don't represent the majority of Americans, the NRA lobbyists have won the messaging and influence battles for way too long. They don't intend to give one inch, even after 12/14; even after 20 little children were massacred. Their claim that gun laws won't matter are specious. Of course they will matter. They have mattered with new drunk driving laws. They have mattered with smoking prohibitions in public places. They have mattered in safety requirements for manufacturing many of our products. Laws matter.
Changing the culture also matters. MADD not only changed laws, they changed the culture around drunk driving. The same is true of the smoking issue and the environment. When the public views important and controversial issues through the lens of what's in the best interest of all of us and for protecting lives of innocent people, a culture change occurs. When the culture change occurs, stronger laws have more support. It was Mothers Against Drunk Driving who managed the culture change around driving while drunk. And it will be with broad support from women who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and good friends of victims who will drive the conversation around gun violence prevention. When our children and our communities are threatened, women come forward to demand change. And these women are joined by the men who care more about public health and safety than they do about gun rights lobbyists. As Virginia Tech survivor Colin Goddard said at the march in DC yesterday, ""We need to challenge any politician who thinks it's easier to ask an elementary school teacher to stand up to a gunman with an AR-15 than it is to ask them to stand up to a gun lobbyist with a checkbook."" And I challenge politicians to stand up for the victims and stand up with the mothers and others nation-wide demanding a plan. The many mothers now engaged because they thought of their own small children in schools all over the country after the 12/14 massacre are standing up and marching. One woman whose voice is going to make a difference is Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She is speaking out loudly and clearly for doing the right thing. From an article:
This time, they won't let Congress ignore the voices of women and victims as has been too often the case. They are going to organize women and men alike to do the same and they are going to make sure that something happens in our country to stop the devastation left behind by gun deaths and injuries.“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced. We have representatives who look at gun violence, not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore,” he said. “As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora, we have done nothing.”The killing of 20 first-graders in a Newtown, Conn., school late last year was like “getting hit in the head with a 2-by-4,” Kelly said. That’s what moved them to start the new SuperPAC, which received its first million-dollar donation earlier this month.“We’re going to have all the money we need to play in every relevant race, in ‘13 and ‘14 and beyond,” said Pia Carusone, who is executive director of both organizations.