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February 20 2015

Women, Rape, and Self-Defense

Charlotte Allen

Campus rape rightly has been described as one of the most pressing problems facing colleges and universities. But when someone tries to do something concrete about the problem—such as allowing  female students the option of carrying concealed weapons to protect themselves against rapists--then some sexual assault-activists…suddenly start downplaying the issue of safety and self-protection.

Legislators in Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming all have bills pending that would reverse the policies of governments and many universities that forbid or restrict possessing guns on campus. The bills are sometimes known collectively as “Amanda’s Law,” after Amanda Collins, who was raped at gunpoint in 2007 in a parking garage at the University of Nevada-Reno, where she was then a fourth-year student .

The facts of Collins’s rape are harrowing. It took place within a few feet of the campus police office, which was closed because it was 10 p.m. (Collins had gone to the garage to retrieve her car after a night class.) She actually possessed a concealed-carry permit, but university regulations had forbidden her to take her gun to campus. The rapist, James Biela, was later convicted of raping Collins and, subsequently, two other women, one of whom he also murdered.

But it seems that the campus sexual-assault activists, focused obsessively on student hookups and drunken encounters at parties, sometimes do not focus on the kind of tragedy that changed Amanda Collins's life and cost the life of yet another woman. When interviewed by reporters, they sound sometimes sound as if they don't take as seriously situations such as that of Amanda's, which did not begin with consensual sex and then go horifically wrong. Speaking only for myself, I would like to see women enjoy more protection, even if it means allowing those who want to to carry a gun.

Here’s an example of the way people who disagree with me on this speak:

Experts, such as John D. Foubert, the National President of One in Four, a non-profit dedicated to rape prevention, think that the bill shows a misunderstanding of rape. 

“If you have a rape situation, usually it starts with some sort of consensual behavior, and by the time it switches to nonconsensual, it would be nearly impossible to run for a gun," he told the New York Times.

Here’s another:

The idea that such crimes will be reduced on campuses by letting women carry concealed weapons "ignores what we know about when and where sexual assault happens among college students," said Christopher P. Krebs, who has studied the subject extensively as a senior research social scientist at RTI International, a nonprofit research group. Although women can be sexually assaulted by strangers on campuses, he said, "those types of situations are relatively rare."

Right! It’s sobering to read how insensitive those activists who claim concern over the sexual vulnerability of women can be to some women who might find themselves in Amanda Collins' situation.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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