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Woman Journalist Threatened by Gun Bullies



"On March 12, 2010, I was surrounded by big hairy men with guns on their hips, yelling at me as I led a protest against Starbuck’s gun policy. Today, I’m surrounded by five-year-old boys sitting with their moms at the next table. Now I’m the one with a gun on her hip. The gun makes me more fearful than I could have imagined."


So begins "My Month With a Gun: Week One" a three-part series, written by anti-gun violence author and activist Heidi Yewman that debuted this week in Ms magazine.


After the NRA's Wayne LaPierre told the nation only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns, Yewman says she "wondered what would it be like to be that good guy with a gun. What would it be like to get that gun, live with that gun, be out and about with that gun." Yewman, who is the author of Beyond the Bullet and a board member of the Brady Campaign and National Gun Victims Action Council (NGAC), bought a Glock 9mm handgun from a gun dealer four minutes from her home.


Yewman writes that she had only four rules for her month-long experiment in civilian armament: "Carry it with me at all times, follow the laws of my state, only do what is minimally required for permits, licensing, purchasing and carrying, and finally be prepared to use it for protecting myself at home or in public."


Any blogger or reporter who writes about gun safety has met the " 2A tsunami"--the throng of online commentators who post ethnic slurs, insults and threats in the name of their patriotism and Constitution rights. Online attacks against an NGAC staffer last month were so virulent--"Why are people with Jewish names at the root of most everything wrong with society today?"/ "Do you hate liberal gun grabbers? Do you want take revenge on them for vilifying you as a baby killing racist rednecks?"--they were blocked by Google.


The 2A backlash against Yewman was so retaliatory, it included publication of her home address and led to MSmagazine's  decision to scrap the rest of the series, says the New York Times. The attacks were reminiscent of gun advocates who posted the home addresses of editors and writers at The Journal News, where their children go to school and issued death threats because the paper revealed addresses of local handgun permit holders.


What angered gun lovers the most was how easy Yewman revealed the process of buying a gun to be. "The whole thing took 7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, 'Well, that was easy.' Then the terrifying reality hit me, 'Holy hell, that was EASY.'  Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms." Both the gun dealer who sold Yewman her Glock and a policeman she randomly asked for help in ascertaining if there were bullets in the chamber, knew she was walking around with a lethal weapon she knew nothing about.


Gun lovers assailed Yewman for failing her "moral obligation to learn how to safely and properly use said firearm," as if she weren't following the very laws the gun lobby has dictated. "Instead of proving that the law is too easy," one pro-gun blog said, Yewman "proves only that she is an arrogant, reckless woman who is willing to endanger others to score a political point. She should be ashamed of herself."


Yet if training is only a "moral obligation" governed by the honor system and not laws, how manyother untrained gunmen are walking the streets?


One poster said laws that would slow down Yewman's 7 minute gun acquisition don't stop criminals but could hurt potential victims because, "For an abused woman, the threat of a gun may be the only thing that saves her life." But a study by the Violence Policy Center found women who bring a gun into their home to protect themselves are actually three times as likely to be killed themselves.


In buckling under the onslaught, Ms magazine says it is "not equipped to handle" such aggression and the rest of the series will appear on the Huffington Post. The decision just emboldens the online bullies whose vengeful, unbalanced, hair trigger remarks are the best argument against carrying guns in public.



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