Gun lobby takes cheap shot by targeting women

Elise T. Chisolm

November 02, 1993|By Elise T. Chisolm

I attended night courses back in the '70s with a very pretty young woman -- tall, blond and well-dressed. She wore designer clothes to her executive job.

But in her designer pocket book she carried a small designer pistol -- a pearl-handled gun.

And she had designed a gun-carrying rationale.

She was a single mother who lived in a high-crime neighborhood. One day when the family was gone, they were robbed of most of her jewelry, antiques and appliances. Since then she had always carried a gun and what jewelry she had left in her purse.

But a strange thing happened two months later. She put her pocket book in the desk drawer when she went to the office copy machine and someone stole the pocket book -- they got an expensive gun and two diamond rings.

Who got the gun and what did they do with it? Did they kill or rob someone with it? Did a 13-year-old boy use the gun to get a coveted jacket on the playground? Maybe.

I saw a friend the other day who told me she bought a new gun because the National Rifle Association is telling women to arm themselves. She complied.

I know an elderly widow who keeps a loaded gun by her bedside table. Yet I have noticed she can't open a fruit jar or an aspirin bottle because of the arthritis in her hands. A 70-year-old neighbor carries a gun in her purse but she has diminishing eyesight.

I would never carry a gun because I do not think they are the answer to keeping women safe.

I am madder than ever at the NRA, the powerful gun lobby, for their new ad campaign targeting and wooing women as gun consumers.

Women seem to be easy targets for big lobby interests. For years we put up with sexy ads of gorgeous girls smoking, and our generation bought into it. From bathroom cleaners to cures for yeast infections, we women are bombarded with advertising.

Of course, there's hope. We have snuffed out smoking in most public places, hurting the tobacco lobby -- maybe we can get the message to women that guns do not make our day.

But the gun lobby is using clever marketing skills on us. Even in my own city we are being offered NRA seminars subtly titled, "I Refuse To Be a Victim."

Do you know that handguns in America now claim about 22,000 lives in suicides, murders and accidents? Every day one child, age 15 or under, is killed by a handgun.

The FBI confirms that a handgun in the home is rarely used for self-protection.

New hope to combat the NRA's inflated figures of women and gun ownership comes from the elite New England Journal of Medicine's study: Gun owners triple their chances of being murdered at home.

Anti-gun congresswomen are protesting the NRA's ploy to keep gun sales up. And this year in Congress, the Brady bill, asking for a five-day waiting period for gun purchase, if passed, will help cut down on trigger-happiness.

A Time/CNN poll in August reports that 92 percent of Americans want the five-day waiting period.

I agree with Jennifer Jackson, administrative assistant for the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. She told me that the "Refuse To Be a Victim" theme of the NRA is unconscionable and offensive, because it perpetuates the "blame-the-victim" philosophy that is damaging to women. It is as if to say that if a woman is victimized she somehow CHOSE to be a victim -- a patronizing tactic to get women members.

Until society comes up with a vaccination for violence, no one is safe from guns.

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