Updated 11:30 p.m. EST: The use of assault weapons among women emerged as standout topic at Wednesday’s Senate hearing on gun control legislation. Gayle Trotter, a lawyer and senior fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, said women need that type of firearm to level the playing field when confronted by physically stronger male attackers.
The guns rights advocate told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee that “guns make women safer.” To her, AR-15s are the “weapon of choice” because “they have good handling, they’re light, they’re easy for women to hold.” And the appearance of such a “scary-looking gun” deters violent male criminals during home invasions.
But a recent study conducted by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center disputed those assertions. The study found that women living in states with more accessibility to guns are at a greater risk for violent death. This includes “unintentional gun deaths, suicides and homicide, particularly firearm suicides and firearm homicides.”
During an interview on The Last Word Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell challenged Trotter for not being able to provide one real life example of a case when an assault weapon specifically saved one woman’s life in that kind of a situation. “You don’t go to the Senate to imagine things!” O’Donnell said.
While speaking in front of the senators, Trotter described a hypothetical scene of a “young woman defending her babies in her home” when faced with “three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home with her children screaming in the background” as a reason to own an assault rifle.
“The peace of mind that she has, knowing that she has a scary-looking gun, gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals,” said Trotter, who was the only woman on the five-person panel. “If we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting these types of women at a great disadvantage–more so than men because they don’t have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle.”
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured after being shot in the head, and her husband Mark Kelly also spoke at the hearing.
The proceedings on Wednesday marked the first round of congressional hearings on gun control since December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Following the attack, which killed 20 young kids and six educators, President Obama and other lawmakers have been pushing for stricter gun control legislation to curb gun violence.