As we’ve noted before at this blog, nothing enrages a pro-gun activist like a woman speaking out, publicly and confidently, for tougher laws to prevent gun violence. As result, women frequently bear the brunt of some of most vociferous and threatening attacks by pro-gun activists.
This blog features such an attack on Joan Peterson, a gun violence survivor from Minnesota and the author of the blog Common Gunsense. In 1992, Joan s sister, Barbara, was three years into divorce proceedings with her husband. After he left bizarre messages on her answering machine, Barbara got a restraining order against him. One day, Barbara and a male friend went to her husband s house to deliver some paperwork regarding the divorce. Her husband erupted in anger and shot both of them in cold blood, killing them. Prior to the shooting, he had no violent criminal history. He took his own life not long thereafter in a psychiatric ward.
On February 17, 2012, Joan authored a blog entitled, “It’s a Guy Thing.” She commented on a controversial House of Representatives hearing that occurred the day before, in which a panel consisting only of men offered testimony on why religious institutions shouldn’t be compelled to offer certain types of health care to women (e.g., access to birth control bills and other forms of contraception) under the Affordable Care Act.
Joan began to think about a quote we hear often in the world of gun violence prevention: Wayne LaPierre’s famous quip, “The guys with the guns makes the rules.” In Joan’s words:
The guys. With guns. Making the rules. Hmmmm. Let’s think about that for a while. First of all, apparently there were no founding sisters or women involved in the beginnings of our democracy. Who made the rules back then? Who got to decide about the wording of our Constitution? … Remember now, these guys (and a very small group of women) with guns make up about 2-3% of Americans eligible to own and carry guns. Should they get to make the rules for the rest of us? … The guys with the guns and those they have intimidated into believing their world view, have passed laws in 49 states now allowing some form of carrying concealed weapons around in public. When the laws passed, these guys convinced legislators that we would all be safer if they were allowed to carry their guns into every nook and cranny of our communities. Some of them may have mentioned that this would also make they and their families safer, thinking there is danger lurking everywhere they go. I don’t know why the 97% or so of Americans who don’t carry concealed or openly displayed guns don’t feel that same danger risk. So for those folks who feel unsafe wherever they go, we have passed laws that allow for loaded guns in Starbucks stores, in churches, in colleges (or so they hope) in grocery stores, malls, etc. Yes, shootings have happened in all of these places, mostly by crazed people who shouldn’t have had guns in the first place. And even people with guns could likely not have stopped these shootings. Some commenters on this blog even wrote that they wouldn’t try to protect the public in these cases. It would be every “man” for himself … I’m very happy that the guys in my life are not like the guys I have described in this blog post. Change is coming. Women are speaking out and claiming their place in the important debates of our time.
Joan might as well have blown a dog whistle for the white male “Culture Warriors” in the pro-gun movement. Several commenters jumped in to claim that more women are involved in shooting activities than ever, a dubious claim given that gun ownership among American women has remained totally flat over the past three decades.
Joan then made the following comment about Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s controversial statements about religion:
That was the last straw. Pro-gun activist “Thomas,” a frequent commenter at Common Gunsense, jumped in and left the following comment:
The “bell-ringing” that Thomas is referring to takes place in a Memorial Garden in Lake Place Park in Duluth, Minnesota. Periodically, Joan gathers with members of the group Protect Minnesota (which formed when the Million Mom March Chapters of Minnesota merged with Citizens for a Safer Minnesota) and other organizations to remember victims of gun violence. Attendees are invited to ring the Memorial Bell for each loved one they have lost to gun violence.
As for the rest of Thomas’ comment, well, it speaks for itself.