In the aftermath of last week's shooting rampage in Colorado, gun violence has been on everyone's minds, front pages and newscasts.
Much of the talk has focused on the fight between gun control and gun rights. And while gun sales have spiked of late (for reasons other than you might think), there is also a spike in fear and disgust for gun culture. Could that do more harm than good?
As the Daily Beast reports, one self-defense expert argues that "handguns play an important role in society: they stop rape."
Paxton Quigley believes women should carry guns to protect themselves if it makes them feel safer. She cites sexual assault statistics (more than 207,000 assaults a year) and personal stories of rape victims who wish they'd been armed to stop their assaults.
"I'm not saying that everyone should be armed," she clarified. "I think that if you're a responsible citizen, and you do learn how to shoot, and you take the time, and you learn the safety rules, then I think it's appropriate for you to have a gun in the house."
Law enforcement training consultant Rob Valente said it's better for women to be without.
"I know it is a terrible feeling to think that there is the potential of you being a victim of any crime," she said. "However, we're talking about folks who do not have regular education and training in fire arms. I work very closely with law enforcement. These are people who carry guns every single day. They'll tell you it is a very, very difficult thing to do, to be that well trained, that capable."
Valente said she's concerned women may feel comfortable purchasing a firearm without getting proper training. She added that owning a gun introduces avoidable dangers into the home, citing a John Hopkins study that "found that in cases where there's intimate partner violence, the mere presence of a gun increases the likelihood of a homicide happening by six times," she explained.
Quigley said the tremendous responsibility that comes with having a gun should never be ignored, and shooting an intruder the last step a woman should take to ensure her safety.
"I always tell my students that they should make their bedrooms into a safe room. They should have a solid core door with a good lock, and before they go to bed they should close that door and lock it, so that if anyone should come into their house, other than their bedroom, they have some sort of protection so that they can call the police," she said. "I don’t' want people to have to use their gun. It's only in an emergency situation."
After mass shootings, do you lean to or against guns for protection? Should women get over their fear or distaste for guns? As a woman, do you think a gun could protect you? If you own a Lady Smith & Wesson already, are you confident using it? What training have you had? If you have first-hand experience, tell us what happened.
Ms. Paxton Quigley, Self-Defense Trainer; Author, "Armed and Female: Taking Control"
Ms. Rob Valente, Training consultant for law enforcement and victim advocates on federal firearms laws.