National Rifle Association past president and Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer promoted the NRA's plan to force Florida colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns by claiming that opponents of the measure are “engaged in a war on women,” given the epidemic of campus sexual assault.
The NRA has increasingly co-opted the issue of sexual assault on college campuses to push legislation that would allow guns on campus, even though no evidence exists that more guns would make campuses safer for women. In fact, research has repeatedly indicated that where there are more guns, women are more likely to be murdered, often by an intimate partner.
During an Aug. 10 appearance on the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, Hammer touted the re-filing of a proposed law in Florida to allow guns on campus that died in committee in the last legislative session. Florida's next legislative session begins in January.
Hammer, a paid NRA lobbyist and past president of the NRA who also heads NRA affiliate group Unified Sportsmen of Florida, was one of the chief architects of the nation's first Stand Your Ground law, which was signed into law in 2005 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
On Cam & Company, Hammer claimed that “a gun-free-zone campus” is “a sanctuary where criminals can rape and commit mass murder without fear of resistance,” adding, “Not only are opponents of this bill engaging in a war against the Second Amendment and self-defense, they are engaging in a war against women who need to be able to defend themselves against rape and physical violence on a college campus.”
Hammer also attacked the League of Women Voters of Florida, a prominent opponent of the NRA's legislation, saying the group is part of an “anti-women, anti-self-defense movement.”
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the League of Women Voters of Florida is hosting a “Gun Safety Summit” on Aug. 13 with the goal of “uniting with students, professors, administrators and the national organization, Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus” to oppose the bill in 2016 .
Hammer ended her appearance on Cam & Company by lashing out at higher-ed administrators and educators who oppose “campus carry” laws, saying, “The message should be very clear that college administrators and liberal anti-gun professors who oppose self-defense on campus are turning a blind eye to rape and violent crime.”
All available evidence, however, indicates that guns are not an antidote to the epidemic of campus sexual assault and that the presence of firearms actually increases danger for women.
In fact, according to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report “being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college” compared to students who did not carry guns. A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health suggested that students who kept firearms on campus did not help make the school grounds safer, finding that they were more likely to engage in risky or illegal behaviors.
There is also no evidence that women rely on guns to defend themselves from sexual assaults. David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, studied 10 years of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and found that out of 1,100 victims who reported experiencing sexual assault, just one used a firearm in self-defense.
On the contrary, research has repeatedly indicated that the presence of firearms increases danger for women, because most male attackers target someone they know. Although the NRA is framing “campus carry” legislation as a women's issue, the legislation would apply to women and men, who are much more likely to carry guns. And where men have more guns, more women die in domestic violence incidents.
According to a fact sheet issued by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “A study of risk factors for violent death of women in the home found that women living in homes with 1 or more guns were more than 3 times more likely to be killed in their homes. The same study concluded that women killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative were 7 times more likely to live in homes with 1 or more guns.”
Research from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that in states where more guns are owned, women are more likely to die violent deaths from unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides. The Atlantic reported that this is true “even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.”
Despite all evidence indicating that guns on campus are not the solution to campus sexual assault, the NRA has increasingly cited sexual assault in its campaign to arm college students nationwide. The host of Cam & Company, Cam Edwards, has argued that people who oppose guns on campus legislation are “OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented.”
Edwards has also attacked the argument that women should not have to carry guns to defend themselves, saying that the burden is on the victim to stop the attack. According to Edwards, “It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life.”