Of Pistols and Pistorius

30 January 2018

With the imminent arrival of the anniversary of Reeva Steenkamp’s tragic death, the infamous Valentine’s Day shooting involving Oscar Pistorius is bound to pop up a little more frequently in conversation.

And the issue of firearms, particularly regarding their use in domestic violence, is likely to factor strongly in that discussion.

Unfortunately, the usual hysteria and double logic directed at firearms from people who truly don’t know what they’re talking about will not only overshadow what should be a time of solid contemplation about relationships ranging from intimate ones to those we have with society overall, but also severely damage the ability of women to protect themselves – the exact opposite of what the loudest firearm critics in this context claim to be their intention.

The average female is biologically at a disadvantage in terms of strength compared to the average male. It’s an unfortunate result of our evolutionary process as humans, but it is what it is. There will be many exceptions, but for the most part the average male will be able to overpower and probably kill the average female with their bare hands. That should be a sobering thought. Not in a way that creates unnecessary hostility between the sexes, but in a way that reminds women of the importance of only making themselves vulnerable (where reasonably possible) to men that they trust impeccably.

The concept of using caution in where we make ourselves vulnerable is not exclusive to the women-at-the-hands-of-men scenario though. It’s a universal rule, for men and women, in situations both intimate and unintimate. But women typically have that one extra layer of risk, and that must be factored in along with all other risks. And if one wants to address that risk, filling in the gap left by biology, one of the most powerful ways to do so is by arming women. "

One can beat your fists on your chest and scream at the sky as much as you like about the fact that humanity is messed up, and that men shouldn’t be overriding the consent of women. And rightly so. But doing that cannot replace the important step of empowering women themselves. If we step on the right for citizens to arm themselves, we are truly hurting our chances of something resembling equality in this fractured world. And naturally that doesn’t just apply to women – being armed is an important equaliser for all.

Apart from that exploration of why obstructing lawful firearm rights actually hurts women, let’s also look at a few other points that will be ignored by some during this time:

- A huge variety of different objects (including the aforementioned bare hands) can be used to maim or kill. The cricket bat found at the Pistorius scene could have been used in a fit of rage to the same (if not more gory) effect that the firearm was. This is a daily reality around the world, and is conveniently brushed over by those with an illogically specific contempt for firearms.

- If you are in fear of a domestic partner using a firearm against you in a fit of rage, you have far bigger problems to consider than the presence of a firearm. If you either think that the person has so little self-control that they’ll take your life in anger, or that they have such an absence of love for you that they’d plan your death – then you’d better be making an escape because that person is a risk to you no matter what. Thinking that the absence of firearms will make you safe in that situation is highly delusional.

- Anybody paying attention will see that tons of men are actively encouraging the women in their lives to acquire firearms and become proficient with them. When you consider the implications, this is a far more romantic gesture than a diamond ring could ever be. It indicates consideration for the partner’s wellbeing, shows a trust felt towards the partner, and is a clear sign of a lack of intent to tread on the partner and their rights – after all, who would want to empower somebody they wish to step on?

There are women doing what it takes to protect themselves and their loved ones – and that often includes arming themselves They don’t want to stand there watching powerlessly as their child’s throat is slit by somebody with all of the physical ability to kill and no respect for life. They’re not burying their heads in the sand. They know that this world is full of predators and is likely to be so for the rest of their lives. They understand that empowerment through learning and equipping themselves beats illogical hysteria in protecting their interests. Please don’t spit on their efforts.

By: Bernard Allen

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