Summary of "A Peaceful Woman Explains Why She Carries a Gun”by Linda M. Hasselstrom

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Hasselstrom describes some of the major situations that led her to come to her choice concerning gun ownership, such as camping next to drunk men who threated her and a female friend with sexual assault, a car full of men attempting to attack her on a highway at night, a man who pointed a gun at her on her wide and lonely expanse of property, and coming home to a ransacked home and spending hours in fear wondering if the perpetrators would return (355). Many women reading her story are likely to relate in some ways to the experiences she describes as well as the feelings she describes. While she first took self-defense classes to teach her how to defend herself without a weapon, these classes only led her to “search[] for anything that had allowed [her] to become a victim” (356). In the end, she came to realize that none of her experiences or close calls with violence from men were born from anything she did wrong. Since arming herself, she writes about the one time she has ever had to pull a gun on a man, which she did with tact, only insinuating she was armed by showing the man the gun rather than pointing it at him violently or meeting his belligerence. This close call allowed both her and the perpetrator to walk away unharmed. She warns, “we must treat a firearm’s power with caution,” and that even though it cannot keep a person from being physically harmed or killed completely, “it can shift the balance of power and provide a measure of safety” (355).

My essay will focus on the general dilemma many modern women face when it comes to protecting themselves from masculine violence or threats, similar to those experienced by Hasselstrom in “A Peaceful Woman Explains Why She Carries a Gun.” Her essay makes valid points pertaining to the choices women must make, regardless of their stances on guns in general, when it comes to protecting themselves or even their families. Once a woman has experienced violence from a man, or even in some situations from other women, there are a variety of choices that can be made other than carrying a weapon, such as self-defense or using various forms of caution, but I will further explore the various processes associated with choosing to carry a weapon, as well as some of the negative consequences that were only touched on in Hasselstrom’s essay.

As Halstrom’s essay shows, guns can be used as a positive means of protection, and women like Halstom have the ability to embody this alternative vision of guns as tools for protection rather than violent weapons. The sources included in the attached bibliography will support this thesis, as Koeppel gives an overview of gun use among women over the past fifty years, Stroebe looks into general gun ownership motivations and fears, Jurado tells a story similar to Hasselstrom’s and debunks the myth that gun ownership is a white, conservative motivation, Stange describes female gun ownership as an act of resilience and rebellion against violence, and Filipovic tells the story of guns in relation to male-dominated violence in America, in a sense that women have the ability to change that story.

Annotated Bibliography

Filipovic, Jill. “It’s Always Men.” Time, vol. 190, no. 15, 16 Oct. 2017, p. 29.

Instead of focusing on female gun ownership or issues surrounding this topic, this article focuses on male gun ownership and its relationship to mass violence across America. One prominent quote states, “Of the 134 mass shooters who have preyed on Americans since 1966, three have been women, making mass shooting a 98% male enterprise” (29). This data is relevant to this article because it says something about the comparison between how men are largely portrayed as gun owners and how women are seen as gun owners. Female gun owners could make major changes in gun violence in America, using gun laws to the advantage of protection rather than promoting violence.

Jurado, Rachel. “Gun Control Victims.” American Enterprise, vol. 15, no. 1, January/February 2004, pp. 44-45.

This magazine article tells the story of Evelyn Logan, a woman who was attacked in the early morning at a rest stop in the early 1960s and was able to defend herself because she was carrying a concealed weapon, which she used to defend herself from her attacker without shooting and assisted police in holding him on the ground until they arrived at the scene. This story leads into a discussion on specific gun control laws and how they in turn may lead to more violence, or lead to more Americans feeling unsafe. The article also details a variety of different gun ownership advocate groups, spanning from the ulta-conservative to the ulta-liberal. Additionally, it focuses on specific issues in female gun ownership, as well as the rise of women’s training classes and hunting trips, and the various ways in which some women are becoming educated and trained gun owners, regardless of the lack of support they have received.

Koeppel, Maria D.H., and Matt R. Nobles. “Understanding Female Gun Ownership: 1973-2010.” Feminist Criminology, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017, pp. 43-71.

This research article takes a look at gun ownership trends among females between 1973 and 2010, making comparisons between male and female gun ownership as well. The study tests whether or not gun ownership in females increased during this time period, as well as whether or not women experienced an increased “fear of crime” (43). Additionally, it tests the extent to which motivations for having a gun, such as to protect oneself, to hunt, etc., shape or change gun ownership among women. The study comes to a conclusion that gun ownership among women tended to decline during this time period. Additionally, findings show that more women are drawn to gun ownership because of hobbies and interests rather than self-protection, in contrast to the findings of many previous peer-reviewed studies. Ultimately, this article makes a statement about “the heterogeneity of gun ownership in the United States” (43).

in the past. This article’s main point is that many women feel it is their duty to defend themselves by their own means, rather than by depending on the government or men to do so.

Stange, Mary Zeiss. “No More Raping.” Women’s Review of Books, vol. 21, no. 5, Feb. 2004, pp. 12-13.

Stange’s motivations for writing this article come from a sincere motivation to promote justice for women who have suffered rape, battery, or even death and who were unable to protect themselves. She mentions famous female freedom fighters and “artillery commandos” who have paved the way, such as female black panthers who were the epitome of the feminine revolution, becoming images for other women of what it means to arm yourself in a statement of protection and strength (12). Even the appearance of holding a gun can promote a sense of protection in women, although the admits that nonviolence can be just as powerful as a stance, especially in times of revolution. In this sense, the idea of gun ownership in women as part of a revolution is introduced, which is an interesting point that can be made in this particular research essay. Gun ownership, even in modern America, or perhaps even especially in modern America, for white women and women of color alike, can be a statement of revolution or uprising, taking a stance against violence against women and a woman’s ability to arm and protect herself.

Stroebe, W., N. Pontus Leander, and Arie W. Kruglanski. “Is it a Dangerous World Out There? The Motivational Bases of American Gun Ownership.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 48, no. 8, 2017, pp. 1070-1085.

American tends to be notorious across the rest of the world for its gun ownership policies, ownership, and the political drama that consistently ensues due to said policies and ownership. This article looks into the basis for this gun ownership. While many polls and previous studies suggest that a main reason stated for gun ownership in the US is “defensive,” this study uses “a two-component model” to show both “antecedents and consequences” of owning a gun for self-defense or protection reasons (1070). It points out that there are different levels of how threats are construed among gun owning citizens, such as “the specific perceived threat of assault and a diffuse threat of a dangerous world,” and that these levels are the main predictors of purchasing or owning a gun (1070). Additionally, the article explores judgements and motivations depicting beliefs about guns in the US. The model tests two sample groups of gun owners (899 total) from before and after the mass shooting at an Orlando night club.