The essay A peaceful woman explains why she carries a gun by Linda M. Hasselstrom seeks to provide a fresh perspective on the subject of gun control which has been the subject of intense public debate in America with many activists for gun control citing the loose policy on gun ownership as the root cause of the moral panic and widespread gun related violence in the country. The intent of this essay is to provide an argument, based on the essay by Hasselstrom, which supports gun ownership supported by American legal ideologies and cultural factors.
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In her essay, Linda M. Hasselstrom admits to have faced numerous dangerous situations and encounters where she survived being the victim of sexual assault and homicide seemingly by sheer luck. She reports to discovering the futility of self-defense techniques such as martial arts when she heard stories of female martial art experts who had been raped and beaten anyway (Kirszner & Mandel, 2012). It is at this point that she realized she had to carry a gun in order to protect herself. Having made this decision she visited the local sheriff and obtained a gun permit. Despite having ownership of the gun and carrying it with her wherever she goes, she claims she has never shot anyone but merely used it to create a balance of power in situations where she found herself alone, vastly outnumbered and under threat of attack (Kirszner & Mandel, 2012). From this essay, it is clear that the issue of equality plays a major role in deciding whether to own a gun or not. Billington (1981), regards the gun as “the great equalizer” as it makes a smaller and or underprivileged person equal to larger, intimidating person and allows the former to defend himself in case of attack from the later. By acquiring a gun, which has the ability to project a force that no other object can offer, Hasselstrom is able to avoid cowering in fear in the face of intimidation and stand up for herself (Synder, 1993).
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The issue of individualism and its importance in the pervasive American culture also comes out strongly in Hasselstrom’s essay (Tonso, 1981). According to the essay, she lives alone, in a vast ranch and often travels by herself at night with no companion and no reliable means to protect herself in case of an attack. The American society prides itself in having citizens that have a “do it yourself” attitude to life. Instead of relying on her husband or other people for help Hasselstrom tries to learn Kung Fu and later decides to purchase a gun. This shows that the need to rely on oneself for everything including one’s own safety is important to American with the use of deadly force to defend oneself from a violent crime being legal in 50 states. It can therefore being posited that the legal possession of a firearm purely for self-defense is in line with the American legal ideology and gun control policies should aim to enforce gun registration laws and any misuse of firearms should lead to confiscation (Alpern, 1985).
Activists for gun control seem to view their cause as an opposition to the rise of gun related crime in America but it is easy to deduce from Hasselstrom’s essay that they fail to consider the “peaceful woman” and other peaceful citizens who carry guns purely out of necessity (Kirszner & Mandel, 2012). To enforce the strict laws on gun ownership proposed by these activists better policies need to be put in place first to ensure that no citizen feels threatened and that in the case of such threats, access to law enforcement officers is not encumbered in any state in the country. This venture may seem overly ambitious, but it might make gun ownership unnecessary to some citizens with the availability of alternatives to the use of deadly force and an assurance that they are safe and will remain safe even in their own homes (Kirszner & Mandel, 2012).
To conclude, it is clear that Hasselstrom’s essay offers a fresh perspective while considering the issue of gun control as it provides the input of the peace loving citizen who has been left without any other alternative to protecting herself other than owning a gun. Such citizens should not be denied the power to protect themselves from violent crimes just because better policies to control gun violence have not been formulated or implemented. The American legal ideology supports self-defense and such individuals do not break the law. However as Hasselstrom states in the essay there is need to exercise caution and to create a society where people do not have to carry firearms to avoid being raped or murdered (Kirszner & Mandel, 2012).
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