National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards lashed out at a Daily Tar Heel editorial that argued guns are not the solution to campus sexual assault by claiming that the “burden” of stopping sexual assaults and other violent crimes as they occur “is on the victim.”
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.”
In a March 22 editorial, independent student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel criticized national group Students for Concealed Carry for raising the issue of campus sexual assault in a gambit to loosen rules on carrying guns on public campuses in North Carolina.
The Daily Tar Heel wrote, “Concealed weapons would not significantly reduce sexual assault and would create inadvertent risks within other forms of interpersonal violence,” and added that proponents of guns on campus “could reinforce rape culture because the burden of stopping assault would be further placed upon women.” Noting that guns increase the risk of homicide in domestic violence situations, the Tar Heel concluded that "[t]o reduce sexual assault, focus should be maintained on preventative programs that challenge rigid gender roles and promote healthy relationships as well as intervention trainings that teach peers to be active bystanders rather than on measures that will not solve the problem."
On the March 27 edition of NRA News program Cam & Company, Edwards said the editorial “could only be written by somebody on that college campus without a lot of thought and experience in the real world” and that he was “dumber [for] having read” the editorial.
In particular, Edwards took issue with the Tar Heel's argument that telling women that they should carry guns to prevent sexual assault places the “burden” of preventing such attacks on those women. Edwards repeatedly argued that the “burden” of stopping all violent crimes -- including sexual assault -- was in fact on the victim.
Addressing the Tar Heel's editorial board, Edwards said, “And I hate to tell the editors here of The Daily Tar Heel, but the burden of stopping that assault is not going to be on the person committing that assault, not at that moment in time, the burden of stopping that assault is on the victim, it is on the victim.”
He later added, “I don't say this as a microaggression, I don't mean this as a -- to come with a trigger warning, but 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.”
Edwards again returned to the student newspaper and scoffed at its suggestion that “the burden is on the attacker not to attack people,” stating, “Great, OK, that's fine. In that case we are going to be dealing with the legal system, the criminal justice system. Because once that individual has decided to engage in that violent crime you can send them to the 'Encounter Workshop' right? You can let them sit down in a 'Safe Space' and talk with others about their feelings, that won't stop that crime that is occurring right then and there.”
Returning to his argument about the responsibilities of crime victims, Edwards then said, “the person who is being subjected to this crime, is not just allowed to, is not just entitled to defend themselves, I think again they have a responsibility to themselves, and to the people that they love, to protect themselves as best they can.”
Gun advocates are increasingly hijacking the issue of campus sexual assault in order to push legislation nationwide to allow concealed guns on college campuses. As Jezebel's Jia Tolentino noted, recent efforts by gun advocates to link guns on campus and campus sexual assault amount to “a movement at the intersection of two immensely violent American misunderstandings: first, the idea that carrying guns makes your surroundings safer, and second, the idea that the onus is on rape victims -- rather than their rapists -- to prevent their rapes.”
There is no evidence that guns on campus would reduce the incidence of sexual assault. In fact, academic research found that 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.
Furthermore, as Tolentino explained in her Jezebel article, “guns make domestic violence more deadly for women. Rape on college campuses (as well as in general) happens in situations that mirror very closely the dynamic of domestic violence -- the introduction of coercion and sexual assault under the cover of relationships and interactions that seem outwardly acceptable.”
Edwards previously said that people who argue against concealed carry as a solution to rape on college campuses are “OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented” with guns.
During a September 2014 radio show -- before gun advocates made the occurrence of campus sexual assault the central argument in favor of guns on campus -- Edwards agreed with a guest's sentiment that “so many” campus sexual assault cases are “two people being drunk at a party hooking up and then somebody, usually the girl, regretting it the next morning.”