Last Friday, the Women’s March and several other organizations participated in a 17-mile, two-day rally in the Washington, D.C. area to protest the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) promotion of violence against progressive activists—especially women and people of color—in two recent incendiary videos, as well as the lack of action the NRA took in response to the shooting death of Philando Castile.
The NRA’s first video, released on June 30 and narrated by conservative talk show host Dana Loesch, uses aggressive language and suggests that gun ownership is necessary to defend “law abiding” citizens from “violent” progressive protestors.
In response, Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory wrote a letter to NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre demanding removal of the video on the grounds that it advances a dangerous “us v. them” narrative and calls for violence against grassroots, nonviolent resistance such as the Women’s March. The letter also identifies the inconsistency inherent in defending NRA members’ second amendment rights while failing to do the same for Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who was shot and killed by a police officer last year after the officer thought he was reaching for a legally registered firearm, despite video footage showing otherwise.
Soon after receiving the letter, the NRA released a second video refusing to apologize and directly attacking several progressive activists and politicians—such as Senator Chris Murphy, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, and Mallory, among others.
In an act of resistance against the NRA’s racist and incendiary actions, the Women’s March organized their first major action since the record breaking January protests.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said “There is a massive gender gap in gun violence. Women are simply sick and tired of it, and the NRA is doubling down on their extremism.”
While groups like the NRA try to exploit high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence as factors to promote gun ownership among women, the fact is that women in the United States are significantly more likely to be shot by an attacker than to shoot their attacker. A report from the Violence Policy Center found that for every woman who was able to use a handgun in self-defense against an intimate partner, another 83 women were murdered with a handgun by an intimate partner.
And while the gun lobby likes to portray firearms as a form of protection, too often for women it becomes a tool of intimidation, harm and murder. 4.5 million women in the US report experiencing intimidation or coercion by an intimate partner using a gun.
Women have suffered from gun violence for too long, while groups that claim to advocate safety are more concerned with profits for the firearm industry.
Media Resources: Washington Post 6/29/17; Women’s March; Futures Without Violence; Feminist Majority Foundation 6/2/17