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Morning Feature – Barbarians at the Gate and The Enemy Within

January 31, 2013

Morning Feature

Morning Feature – Barbarians at the Gate and The Enemy Within

“Knowing she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals,” Gayle Trotter told a Senate committee yesterday. She was hyping Barbarians at the Gate, but more women are killed by The Enemy Within. (More)

Barbarians at the Gate and The Enemy Within

In her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Gayle Trotter of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum said women need assault rifles to protect themselves from marauding criminal gangs:

You are not a young mother who has a young child with her and … you cannot understand. You are not a woman stuck in her house, not able to defend her children, not able to leave her child, not able to go seek safety, on the phone with 911. She’s not used to being in a firefight. An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. And the peace of mind she has … knowing she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals.

Also, everyone will need an assault weapon when the extraterrestrials arrive to colonize the earth. And that’s about as likely as the bizarre mom-alone-defending-kids-from-criminal-gang scenario Trotter offered. She was hyping a fear mongering trope commonly called Barbarians at the Gate, but women are in far greater danger from The Enemy Within.

Who kills women?

According to data compiled by the Violence Policy Center, roughly 60% of women who are killed by handguns are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends. What’s more, the VPC’s data reveal, women are 100 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the home than to use it in self-defense. From September 10, 2001 through June 6, 2012, more women were killed by husbands or boyfriends than the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks, Afghanistan, and Iraq … combined. And yes, that includes the Americans who died on 9/11.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for Trotter to address those statistics, as she opposes the Violence Against Women Act, which she claims:

  • federalizes a problem that would be better handled at the state level;
  • embraces gender stereotypes by casting women as victims and men as abusers; and,
  • wastes money on programs that have little to do with actually discouraging violence.

And now, bill supporters have used the occasion of the reauthorization to add unrelated and extraneous provisions, including an expansion of the prosecutorial power of American Indian courts that could deny due process to non-American Indians.

VAWA now touches hot button immigration issues, which have the potential to encourage immigration fraud, false allegations of abuse, and denial of a rebuttal by the accused spouse, whether male or female.

The real threats faced by Native American women – like the greater danger faced by women who have guns in their homes – matter less to Trotter than the potential threats she can imagine: Native America courts denying white people due process, and those marauding criminal gangs that leave a single mother no other choice but to go full Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.

Judgment Day

But feisty females better hope their attackers are indeed marauding gangs, because firing a gun at an abusive husband or boyfriend can land you in prison, even if you miss:

Marissa Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody got hurt, but this month a northeast Florida judge was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins, knew it was coming. She had claimed self-defense, tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law and rejected plea deals that could have gotten her a much shorter sentence. A jury found her guilty as charged: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun while committing a felony, Florida’s mandatory-minimum gun law dictated the 20-year sentence.

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith noted the glaring hole in Florida’s much-maligned “Stand Your Ground” law:

An invited guest is considered a ‘resident’ under the law. This means that as soon as a woman invites her ex-husband to pick up their children at her home, she is powerless to defend herself, even if she holds sole title to the property. Given that most attacks happen at home, by relatives or individuals known to the victim, this loophole in the law is unconscionable.

Florida state representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) could hardly have been more dismissive in his response: “Senator Smith’s been working too hard. He needs to let the Citizen Safety and Protection Task Force, which has a lot of smart people on it, complete their work before he starts proposing changes to statute.”

Well, that task force did complete their work … and their report never mentioned domestic violence. So women need assault rifles for self-defense, unless they’re attacked by the men most likely to attack them, in which case … “they should make better decisions.”

The alien mothership already landed.


Happy Thursday!

  • Gardener


    • NCrissieB

      I’m convinced this will all make sense once the alien mothership leaves and the wormhole in the spacetime continuum is repaired, Gardener….

      Good morning! ::hugggggs::

  • winterbanyan

    The case you cited in FL is only one of many that have left me appalled over the years. Not only are women likely to receive much more severe sentencing in domestic violence than men, but they are likely to do so if they successfully defend themselves against a domestic attacker.

    I have seen case after case where a man receives a short sentence for killing a wife/girlfriend/ex, while a woman defending herself against a spouse/boyfriend/ex has received the full penalty.

    A clean, straightforward VAWA needs to be passed. Extraterrestrials need not apply.

    • NCrissieB

      I read several stories about Marissa Alexander’s case while researching today’s Morning Feature. Alexander claimed she fired up at the wall, near the ceiling, as a warning shot. The prosecutor said she fired at her abuser and missed. Ironically, her claiming it was a warning shot may have hurt her defense. A criminal defense lawyer noted that judges are less likely to accept a self-defense claim when someone fires a warning shot, on the theory that anyone who was ‘really’ in fear for her life would shoot to kill.

      Add that with Trotter’s absurd claim that “six bullets may not be enough,” and you end up with the Maximum Carnage School Of Self-Defense.

      Good morning! ::hugggggs””

  • addisnana

    The Independent Women’s Forum has been around since 1992.

    Founded by Rosalie (Ricky) Gaull Silberman,[24][25] Anita K. Blair, and Barbara Olson[26] in 1992, the IWF grew out of the ad hoc group, “Women for Judge Thomas,” that was created to defend Clarence Thomas against allegations of sexual harassment and other improprieties. By 1996 the organization had some 700 dues-paying members who met regularly at luncheons to network and share ideas.[27]

    The IWF has been described as “a virtual ‘Who’s Who’ of Washington’s Republican establishment.”[27][30] People for the American Way, which is critical of the organization, describes IWF as “a secular counterpart to Religious Right women’s groups like Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America”, although the latter two are antifeminist groups whereas IWF advocates equity feminism. As a secular organization, IWF takes no official position on abortion or same-sex marriage.[31] In October 2003, the IWF announced an affiliation with Citizens for a Sound Economy, now Americans For Prosperity, with whom it shares its premises.

    And Gayle Trotter is listed as a Senior Fellow.

    The IWF and Ms. Trotter are the latest examples of the right wing ‘think tanks’ packaged and labeled so as to appear mainstream. I hope this foray into more media exposure discredits them in a hurry.

    Last night Lawrence O’Donnell took her to task in a devastating way.

    Thanks for the facts on women and gun violence. I am watching the vote on the VAWA closely.

    • NCrissieB

      Thank you for that background on the Independent Women’s Forum, addisnana. Right-wing think tanks spawn like rabbits, although most seem to have the same hundred or so members.

      And thank you for the heads-up on Lawrence O’Donnell’s rebuttal to Trotter:

      The guns rights advocate told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee that “guns make women safer.” To her, AR-15s are the “weapon of choice” because “they have good handling, they’re light, they’re easy for women to hold.” And the appearance of such a “scary-looking gun” deters violent male criminals during home invasions.

      But a recent study conducted by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center disputed those assertions. The study found that women living in states with more accessibility to guns are at a greater risk for violent death. This includes “unintentional gun deaths, suicides and homicide, particularly firearm suicides and firearm homicides.”

      During an interview on The Last Word Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell challenged Trotter for not being able to provide one real life example of a case when an assault weapon specifically saved one woman’s life in that kind of a situation. “You don’t go to the Senate to imagine things!” O’Donnell said.

      Good morning! ::hugggggs::

      • winterbanyan

        O’Donnell was incredible. He nailed her to the wall. Great job. Thanks for the link.