Thursday, December 06, 2012

On Guns, Victim Blaming and Conservative Interpretations Of Kasandra Perkins' Death

Content:  Violence

Sometimes watching Fox News is like being offered a glimpse from another reality altogether.  Here's Dana Perino suggesting, probably in the context of the Jovan Belcher case,  that women who are victims of violence should have made better decisions:

There are people whose detectors are not well-tuned when it comes to danger in general.  But to suggest that better decisions would keep *someone* from becoming the victim of a violent crime is just bunkum/buncombe.  For one thing,  a person bent on committing violence would find another victim if the first choice "made the correct decision."  Then Perino could scold the second person as not having made good decisions.  And so it goes.

If we go down that route, it's the perpetrator of a violent act who should have made better decisions.  That would protect everyone!

This whole thing veers so close to victim-blaming that the two are identical twins.

Elsewhere at the  Daily Caller, Louise Trotter from the Independent Women's Forum (a gals' auxiliary to wingnuttery)  tells us that Kasandra Perkins died because she wasn't armed or that she may have died because she wasn't married to Jovan Belcher but just cohabited with him.  Given that Trotter's main point in the piece is to attack what she considers  a false causal argument:  that guns cause people to die, her own proposed causal chains are enjoyably suspect.

For instance,  several sources suggest that the Perkins-Belcher residence contained eight guns.  Unless they were locked away from Perkins, she did indeed have access to firearms.  Also, at least one study suggests that the presence of a gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide rather than reverse (note that I haven't checked this study for accuracy). 

Then there's Trotter's argument that being  "healthily" married protects a woman from violence:

Imagine that the real reasons for this crime were conclusively shown to involve a complex interplay of factors including drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, sexual competition and a lack of a healthy marriage relationship. In that case, is there any doubt that liberal elites would suddenly lose interest in the admissibility of causation? “Move along, folks, nothing to see here.”

I have never seen any studies which would have proven such a causality, and seriously suspect that the causality runs the other way:  One can't have a healthy relationship with a person who is bent on abusing you and even killing you.  Whether you are married or not.

Trotter's focus is on defending guns.  I don't think anyone believes that guns sneak away from a locked cabinet in the middle of the night and go out on a killing spree without any humans being involved in any of it.  So, using the old NRA argument, guns do not kill people but people kill people. 

What that saw ignores is the fact that guns make people extremely effective killers.  The killing happens almost instantaneously and there is no way of going back to the moment before that first shot, no time to reconsider.  Likewise, guns make killing many people in a row possible.  That would be extremely unlikely an outcome if a person tried to do it bare-handed or even equipped with a knife.

The high US murder rates are directly related to the availability of guns.  Alternative explanations would require Americans to be much more violent than otherwise similar people living elsewhere.  Which I don't believe.

Trotter's advice to women is to be armed.  She writes "Guns make women safer." 

But her opinion piece doesn't say anything about learning to handle a gun, practicing shooting or role playing various forms of attack to make sure that one doesn't shoot an innocent bystander or someone who came to the door trick-or-treating.  The police trains a lot with guns and police officers still sometimes kill innocent bystanders.  IF guns were ever to keep women (or any other population group) safe a lot of real training would be required.

But if gun-carrying amounts to something akin to quasi-religion, such concerns are unimportant.