Citizens in the District of Columbia had plenty of reason to celebrate over July 4th weekend. In addition to our nation’s birthday, countless barbeques, and a fabulous fireworks display, citizens of D.C. could finally enjoy their rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights.
For more than thirty years, D.C. has robbed its citizens of their Second Amendment rights through a draconian handgun ban. And D.C.’s gun restrictions don’t stop at handguns. D.C. also requires shotguns and rifles to be bound by a trigger lock or kept unloaded and disassembled. So much for home protection.
The justification for forbidding law abiding residents from owning weapons was that making guns illegal would lead to a reduction in violent crime. D.C.’s history is a vivid illustration of the folly of this presumption. Despite the nation’s strictest gun control laws, D.C. has one of the nation’s highest murder rates. Unfortunately for D.C.’s lawmakers and citizens, when you outlaw guns, only criminals have them.
In contrast, states with relatively loose gun rules, such as Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Dakotas, have the lowest murder rates in the country. States with high gun ownership rates (over 40 percent), such as Utah, North Dakota, and Iowa, boast firearm death rates below the national average. When criminals know that would be victims could be prepared to defend themselves, committing a crime becomes less attractive. That’s why, counterintuitive as it may seem, more guns often mean less crime.
Gun bans like D.C.’s aren’t only bad policy; as the Supreme Court decided last week in a landmark 5-4 decision that will be studied for years to come, they are also unconstitutional. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court struck down the ban, further stating that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “We hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."
And as Justice Scalia pointed out in his opinion, “the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.” All citizens of D.C. should rejoice at their new found freedom. But for women especially, guns are the ultimate equalizer in self-defense.
Much to feminists’ dismay, men and women are different. For better or worse, men tend to be taller, stronger, and weigh more than women. So when it comes to physical confrontation, women don’t have the best odds—especially when they are sitting ducks, as they were under D.C.’s gun ban. If nothing else, the ban emboldened criminals with the knowledge that their victims would be unarmed. But not anymore. Now women can finally rest assured that if, God forbid, there is a confrontation in their home, they will have a viable means of self-defense—regardless of the size of the intruder.
There are countless examples of women warning off intruders with the help of a gun. In June, a gun-packing mom-to-be scared off two would-be burglars who kicked in the door to her residence early in the morning. Luckily, Kristen Holbert knew how to react. She grabbed a gun, hid in a closet, and when the opportunity arose, surprised the intruders. Holbert said of the incident, “I pointed [the gun] right in their face. They turned around, seeing a pregnant woman holding a gun. …They knew they needed to get out.”
Holbert is not alone. It is estimated that law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves as many as 2.5 million times per year. Often times, such incidents prevent serious, violent crime against women. Take 72-year-old grandmother Jean Zamarripa, for example. When a serial rapist broke into her home, Zamarripa wounded the intruder, ending a string of violent attacks and sexual assaults on elderly women in her neighborhood.
Hobert and Zamarripa are just two of many brave women who have defended themselves and their homes against intruders, with the help of a gun. Women in D.C. will finally be given a chance to follow suit, should the circumstance arise.
D.C. v. Heller was an important first step in the battle for the individual right of self-defense. Women around the country should hope that gun bans continue to fall and afford citizens the peace of mind that only a gun—and the knowledge that you are prepared to defend yourself--can provide.