Women on Wednesday: Gun control as a feminist issue

Gun violence is really a women’s rights issue, Kari Mugo, St. Cloud State alumni activist and writer, told the Women on Wednesday audience, on March 14. Mugo connected the Atwood Theatre via Skype, from Nairobi, Kenya to talk about her 2016 article titled “One Often-Overlooked Need for Gun Control: Ending Domestic Abuse.”

“[The article] deals with an issue that we all agree is contentious of something needs to be done about, which is gun violence, and ties it into something we do not think very often about when we think of gun violence, which is domestic abuse,” Kari Mugo said.

Gun control has always been a controversy in the United States. Almost everyone in this country has their opinions about increasing mass shootings, what really causes them and how to prevent them. However, there’s something people in our society, overlook in debates about gun violence: guns kill our women the most.

“When we talk about these over 700 mass shootings that have happened in the last 3 years [in the U.S.], and we talk about the connection between domestic violence and mass shootings, what we ignore is that roughly 54 percent of mass shootings involve domestic violence or intimate partner violence, and that the shooters often kill their partners or their partners’ family members,” Mugo said.

She mentioned the importance of the societal norms on masculinity and how they affect gun violence in this country, based on an article from the New York Times of Feb. 21, 2018. She supported that we need to talk more about the connection between our notions of masculinity and violence, in our debates about gun violence.

“We need to encourage that masculinity is not necessarily tied to violence, that there are multiple ways to be a man, there are multiple ways to be a boy, and that they are all valid,” Mugo said.

Kari Mugo also emphasized that simply arming women won’t solve this problem. In her research, she realized that the statistics show that women who own guns are actually more likely to be killed in a domestic violence situation.

“The numbers show essentially that if they [women] have a gun in the home, it is 5 times more likely that a woman is going to be killed. … ‘A good guy with the gun can stop a bad guy with the gun’ really does not apply in this case, when we look at the rates of domestic violence that are tied to gun violence,” she said.

Furthermore, domestic violence through guns goes beyond actually shooting the partner.

“Guns are also used to intimidate and threaten women in relationships, even if the trigger is never pulled,” Mugo said.

Jane Olsen, the director of the Women’s Center, said the center aimed to educate the audience on an issue impacting women and to help frame gun control as a feminist issue, with this event.

“Our goal was about either to teach people about the connection or remind people about the connection between guns and domestic violence. … Everybody hears about and knows about the mass shootings, and then, just day by day, women are killed with guns via domestic violence,” Olsen said.

Julianne Herrera, an SCSU student, thought it was very cool to have a remote speaker who is also a St. Cloud State alumni.

“She shared a lot of facts that I did not know,” she said. “A lot of people think about mass shootings when we talk about gun violence.”

Mugo’s speech was followed by audience questions.

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Telling stories to build bridges

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