If you didn’t watch President Obama’s invite-only “town hall” event on CNN last night, you’d actually find that there were some participants who favored strong Second Amendment rights. Kris Jacob, vice president of the American Firearms Retailers Association, and Taya Kyle, the wife of the late American war hero Chris Kyle, were called on to ask questions. Yet, a rather emotionally charged question came from a rape survivor, Kimberly Corban, who is now a mother of two, and asked why didn’t the president see that, his gun control agenda was actually making it harder to protect her family:
As a survivor of rape and now a mother to two small children, it seems like being able to purchase a firearm of my choosing, and being able to carry that wherever me and my family are, it seems like my basic responsibility as a parent at this point. I have been unspeakably victimized once already, and I refuse to let that happen again to myself or my kids. So why can’t your administration see that these restrictions that you’re putting to make it harder for me to own a gun, or harder for me to take that where I need to be is actually just making my kids and I less safe?
The president congratulated Kimberly for having the courage to share her story, rise above it, and thanked her for being part of the event. Yet, he also reiterated that nothing in his executive actions would prevent her from buying a firearm, and that carry rights are state-based issues. At the same time, he weaved in the usual gun control talking points about firearm accidents in one’s home, and how one needs training to defend oneself with that firearm if ambushed in their residence:
Well, Kimberly, first of all, obviously, your story is horrific. The strength you’ve shown in telling your story and being here tonight is remarkable. And so I’m really proud of you for that.
I just want to repeat that there’s nothing that we’ve proposed that would make it harder for you to purchase a firearm. And now, you may be referring to issues like concealed carry, but those tend to be state-by-state decisions, and we’re not making any proposals with respect to what states are doing. They can make their own decisions there. So there really is no -- nothing that we’re proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.
There are always questions as to whether or not having a firearm in the home protects you from that kind of violence. And I’m not sure we can resolve that. People argue it both sides. What is true is, is that you have to be pretty well trained in order to fire a weapon against somebody who is assaulting you and catches you by surprise. And what is also true is there’s always the possibility that that firearm in a home leads to a tragic accident. We can debate that, round or flat.
But for now, what I just want to focus on is that you certainly would like to make it a little harder for that assailant to have also had a gun. You certainly would want to make sure that if he gets released, that he now can’t do what he did to you to somebody else. And it’s going to be easier for us to prevent him from getting a gun if there’s a strong background system in place -- background check system in place.
And so if you look at the statistics, there’s no doubt that there are times where somebody who has a weapon has been able to protect themselves and scare off an intruder or an assailant. But what is more often the case is that they may not have been able to protect themselves but they end up the victim of the weapon that they purchased themselves. And that’s something that can be debated. In the meantime, all I’m focused on is making sure that a terrible crime like yours that was committed is not made easier because somebody can go on the Internet and just buy whatever weapon they want without us finding out whether they’re a criminal or not.
Okay–that last point is a flat out lie. Criminals just can’t go on the Internet to buy firearms. Any federal firearms licensed dealer must perform a background check on all purchases regardless whether it’s at a gun show, online, or at a store. Second, as Katie wrote earlier this week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said that one doesn’t need a FFL license to sell firearms from their personal collection concerning the executive action that redefined dealers. On a side note, the post included a Facebook comment of a person trolling the agency, asking if a hypothetical federal agency needed a FFL to sell firearms to Mexican drug cartels.
Yet, back to this private sale/criminals can get guns online falsehood. The second part of the expanded background check talking point is whether they’re actually expanded into the tiny realm of private sales.
They’re already minuscule–and most transactions are relegated to families (i.e. children inheriting their parents’ guns), which are usually exempt in bills to expand background checks. A similar provision was added to the 2013 Manchin-Toomey bill. At any rate, exempting most of the sales/participants in the private transaction world, which is estimated to only represent gun sales numbering in the single-digits, pretty much undercuts the whole expanded background checks=safer society narrative.
Nevertheless, one could look at this exchange and say that the president was pretty much arguing that a rape survivor buying a gun isn’t a good idea because she might shoot herself, her family members, there’s debatable data that it might not protect her, and oh yeah, she could totally still get attacked and people need training. Nice things to say to a rape survivor. You know what organization is great with training and gun safety? That would be the National Rifle Association. Also, I certainly would never tell a victim of rape that they shouldn’t exercise their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves, or in this case, their families from violent reprisals. And apparently, women aren’t sitting back either. They’re the fastest growing demographic of new gun owners, they’re surging the rates of participation in shooting sports, and they’re obtaining concealed carry permits en masse across the country.
You can read a 2007 article from the Denver Post about Kimberly’s attack here. It does detail some aspects of her rape, but also focuses on how she used her horrific experience to help encourage other victims of sexual assault to come forward. On a positive note, it mentions how Kimberly was able to identify her attacker, Ronnie Pieros, who as CNN’s Anderson Cooper noted is now serving a 24 years to life prison sentence for his crime.