Why Identity Politics Hurts Women Gun Owners
by Wendy Lafever, Executive Director of NRA Women
Women who own guns and support the Second Amendment represent a voting bloc that frightens anti-gun activists. That’s because they’ve spent decades (erroneously) thinking of women as a gun-hating hivemind. It’s an outgrowth of the old, sexist attitude that guns are for men, and that women resent both the guns and the men. Every woman who buys a gun, takes a friend to the range, or posts pro-gun messages on social media is a woman proving that cultural myth wrong.
If you think of the Second Amendment as bedrock—and we here at the NRA sure do—you can think of identity politics as representing three major fault lines in that bedrock. Let’s get the first one out of the way: There is a cultural myth that Second Amendment supporters are racist. Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.
Some gun owners have firearms in their home strictly for hunting purposes. Some gun owners couldn’t be less interested in hunting if you paid them. Some gun owners keep their firearms carefully displayed in cases and rarely take them out, while others leave a large pile of brass next to them at the range every week. Any or all of the above are valid ways to be a gun-owning American woman, but the anti-gunners would prefer you not think of it that way. Why?
The final way in which anti-gunners have tried, are trying, and will try to divide our “house” is by bringing up irrelevant topics. Or, more precisely, they will try to introduce topics that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand—the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
There are many threats facing women gun owners, but the most worrisome one isn’t “facing” us at all; it’s between us. That threat is identity politics, which is at root nothing more than the idea that everyone who shares an identity should think (and vote) the same way. It’s a highly offensive concept if you spend any time thinking about it, but somehow it’s still the wedge that anti-gun activists use to try to fracture the pro-gun movement. We must not let them; the Second Amendment is our “house,” and as a very famous man once said, a house divided cannot stand.
Why We Scare Them
What’s more, every woman who does any or all of those things empowers every other woman who sees or hears her doing it. (It’s one of the compelling reasons that some of us choose to disclose that we’re gun owners.) That’s why, right now, anti-2A forces are doing their best to split us apart … not by what we believe, but by who we are.
Don’t Let Them Divide Us by Race
It wasn’t true when the NRA was founded by two Union generals who were alarmed by the lack of marksmanship displayed by Union forces. It isn’t true today. It will never be true. In fact, it’s much easier to make the argument the other way. The very first gun-control laws were part of the extremely racist “Jim Crow” laws, and they sought to make gun ownership nearly impossible for the recently freed slaves. Nor did the phenomenon stop in the 19th century; gun-control laws continue to unfairly target people of color well into the 21st Century. Just a few years ago, the NRA partnered with Josephine Byrd to reverse a Delaware ban on gun ownership for the residents of Delaware public housing ... a ban that left people of color defenseless in some of Delaware's most crime-ridden areas.
The fact of the matter is as follows: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms knows no color, because it is a right that every human being is born with.
Don’t Let Them Divide Us by Interest
Well, the people who would like to legislate our freedom away are hoping that they can get some of us to vote against the freedoms of others. They’re hoping that we won’t mind a ban on modern sporting rifles as long as they leave our hunting guns alone. They’re hoping that we won’t mind a ban on Sunday hunting as long as they leave our defensive pistols alone. They’re hoping we won’t mind a ban on 20-round magazines as long as they leave our revolvers alone. Let’s make sure that those hopes go unfulfilled.
Don’t Let Them Divide Us by Irrelevant Topics
The concept that the Bill of Rights says what it means, and means what it says, when it says “shall not be infringed” is not inherently partisan. You do not have to subscribe to or support any other ideologies to support the Second Amendment. Anyone who tells you anything different is doing their best to change your mind by changing the subject. And although it may not feel like good news in the moment, it is … because when the anti-gunners try to split us along identity politics lines, it’s because they know that’s the only way to beat us.