College women need rape whistles, not guns says Colorado lawmaker

During gun control debates, Colorado Democrat Joe Salazar declared women use whistles, not guns, to prevent rape. Photo: KUSA

DALLAS, February 20th, 2013 – While arguing for the disarming of Colorado college students, Democratic lawmaker Joe Salazar claimed women should rely on rape whistles, not firearms for self-defense against sexual attackers or violent predators.

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have [rape] whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know, if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around, or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody,” Salazar said.

Salazar’s remarks enraged other lawmakers and constituents. A petition demanding his resignation has circulated while others expressed their anger on his Facebook page.

“I will not have my daughter go to college in Colorado if your only means of a 130 lb. girl defending herself is to blow a whistle, vomit, or pee on the assailant. An evil person, bent on committing an evil crime will not stop unless they are physically forced to do so.  Her 130 lb. frame cannot stop most men, but her .357 mag can.

You will let her have a 15 round mag (for another gun), yet not allow her to carry when she needs it most - 8:00 at night after class…walking alone? Where is the logic? We will be taking our $30,000 tuition to another state,” said Facebook poster Naomi Moss.

“How dare you demean a woman’s judgment by insinuating we’re so incredibly stupid and emotionally unstable we’d ‘pop out that gun and pop…pop around at somebody’? Maybe you could just hang a Rape Free Zone sign next to the Gun Free Zone sign? That should make everyone safer. Or maybe do a better job of keeping rapists and other actual criminals in jail instead of treating female gun owners like irrational idiots,” said another poster.

After his comments garnered a national response from citizens across the country, Salazar apologized for any offense he may have caused, but not for his characterizing women as careless and incompetent. He maintains his position that even permit-carrying, trained women do not need firearms to protect themselves on the campuses of Colorado’s public universities.

According to reports, shortly after the House bill passed and Salazar’s comments circulated, the Colorado Springs Department of Public Safety refreshed self-defense tips for female students. Helpful hints for thwarting rapist attackers without a firearm from the guide, “What To Do If You’re Attacked”, lists 10 ways to prevent sexual assault:

1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.

2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead!  It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.

3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.

4. Don’t take time to look back; just get away.

5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.

6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.

7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.

8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!

9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.

10.  Remember, every emergency situation is different.  Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.

The tips were not well received and have since been removed. Sexual violation is one of the most traumatic, horrifying experiences a woman can endure. Insinuating that women are incapable of proper reasoning or safe handling firearms is unacceptable, but is it moral to legally declare that a woman should depend on others – presumably male security guards or police officers - to save her body, life or property from aggressors violating her because they can by sheer force? 

One in four collegiate women report rape and one in five are raped. No reliable studies were found to support that rape whistles, call boxes, or the acts of vomiting or urinating are the most effective deterrents for sexual assault. But several indicate that the best tool a female has at her disposal for evening the odds between herself and would-be male attacker is a firearm.

According a study by the Northwestern University School of Law, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, an average of 800,000 to 2.5 million defensive uses of guns by civilians occur each year. In the vast majority of those cases, merely brandishing a gun deters crime, and in only 8% of those cases an attacker was wounded.

Over 1.9 million of those self-defense incidents involved handguns, 500,000 occurred outside the home, and 10% involved women defending themselves against sexual assault or abuse. 

An overwhelming number of Americans support the use of deadly force if needed in self-defense – even outside of the home. Laws permitting the carrying of concealed weapons have immense bi-partisan public support as well, according to the Ipsos/Reuters poll that was released recently.

While gun control fever has seized state and federal lawmakers, indicative gaffes like Salazar’s have Americans wondering: if self-defense is popular, why are legislators rigorously outlawing and attacking a gun owner’s ability to protect themselves instead of focusing on criminals? 

If the goal is truly protecting and not controlling, why is legislation that limits the self-defense rights of law-abiding citizens being considered without concern for available evidence the results would reduce crime? Should not the act of depriving any individual - particularly a woman - of their right to self-defense be evaluated statistically before it is outlawed? What is the rush?

The law banning concealed-carry permit holders from bringing firearms on campus passed the House. The Colorado State Senate and Governor will determine the future safety of concealed-carrying college students next. To share your thoughts on this issue, they can be reached here.


READ MORE: Citizen Warrior by Tiffany Madison


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Tiffany Madison

Tiffany is a writer and veteran's advocate. Her column focuses on civil liberties, veteran's issues and current events. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanymadisonFacebook or her website.

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