Mothers at a rally against gun violence, Philadelphia 2016. PA Images. All rights reserved.Somewhere at the intersection of gender and violence in the
United States falls gun violence. Five women are killed with guns every
day in the US, according to a 2014 Center for American Progress report. Between 2001 and 2012 more than 6,400 women were killed by intimate partners using guns —
more than the total number of US troops killed during the Iraq and
Afghanistan wars combined. Furthermore, women in the US are 11
times more likely to die this way than women in other high-income
These staggering statistics might take your breath away, but each has its own story —
of domestic violence, a mass shooting, homicide on the street corner,
or suicide. The whole world hears about the biggest mass shootings —
Aurora, Charleston, Newtown, and Orlando. But the majority of gun
violence happens on this daily basis, barely even making the local
The 2017 Nobel Women’s Initiative conference is themed “The Global Feminist Resistance: Evolution and Revolution — Adapting to Survive Thrive.”
In the US, we are indeed seeing a growing feminist resistance, fueled
in part by grief, confusion, and anger at the reign of Donald Trump. For
those who work on gun violence prevention, reproductive justice,
immigration, or climate change, there is a simultaneous feeling of
urgency and fear. These issues are more pressing than ever. But we fear
that Trump will not only undo what President Obama’s
administration accomplished, but that he will move us even further
…there is a simultaneous feeling of urgency and fear.
What does this mean for gun violence prevention advocates?
We must double down on community-based, grassroots solutions to keeping
our communities safe. In Trump’s America, and with this Congress, there
is likely no way we will get progressive gun reform legislation passed
at the national level. We must put the energy, resources, and investment
into activists working on the ground in communities most
deeply-impacted by this violence.
resistance in the US is bolstered by strong protest crowds, women
running for office, and phenomenal groups working outside of established
institutions to build grassroots power. Groups such as the Women’s
March and Indivisible are changing the activism landscape, and their
messages include the need to organize for gun reform and measures that
will reduce violence in our communities.
have been jolted to action by shooting after shooting are helping to
mobilize people in all 50 states who attend town hall meetings, work on
campaigns, and lobby for common sense gun legislation. In the years
since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, while Congress has mostly
remained at a standstill on the issue, a number of states have passed
comprehensive gun bills.
This trend of state-based
successes — often led by women advocates — should give us hope and a
blueprint for how we ought to act in the era of Trump.
and daughters who have lost loved ones to gun violence, or who survived
such violence themselves, have been at the forefront of movements to
end it. Groups like Moms Demand Action and Million Moms March, as well
as local organizations like Boston’s LIPSTICK, are leading grassroots
forces organising for change. On top of the uphill battle these women
face as organizers, and on top of trauma from personal experiences with
gun violence, they too often also face harassment and threats online, on
Twitter, and even at public events.
Ending gun violence is a feminist issue and women can and must continue to lead this struggle.
In the worst cases, toxic masculinity, obsession with guns, and our
culture of violence coalesce. Mass shootings sometimes have roots in
domestic abuse. In my hometown of Newtown, Connecticut, the shooter who
killed 20 first grade students and six women educators at my former
elementary school, and my mother’s place of work, Sandy Hook School,
began his unspeakable rampage at home, where he abused and killed his
own mother. The shootings in Lafayette, Isla Vista, Houston, and more,
were also preceded by domestic violence.
Ending gun violence is a
feminist issue and women can and must continue to lead this struggle. By
investing in women of color, women living in poverty and in communities
most deeply impacted by gun violence, and by highlighting in our work
the ways in which gun violence intersects with other “issues,” from
domestic violence to poverty to immigration, we can lay the groundwork
for a more comprehensive, sustainable, and effective fight against gun
violence, even in Trump’s America.
The Nobel Women's Initiative conference takes place in Germany 13-16
May. Follow 50.50's coverage of the event.