Gun violence: The unheard feminist issue

“Regulate guns, not my body,” and “guns have more rights than women in the USA.” Messages like these can frequently be seen at recent protests across the country in light of the overturn of Roe and recent mass shootings. The recent shooting in Highland Park, Ill., marked one of the 300 mass shootings that occurred in the U.S. this year,  according to The Washington Post. Not a week has passed in the U.S. this year without at least four mass shootings. 

The conversation around gun violence and who it affects is often viewed from a political standpoint. DePaul alumni and author of “Hood Feminism,” Mikki Kendell, looks at the intersectionality of the current feminist movement and gun violence in her book. 

“Mainstream feminism has engaged with gun violence as an everyday occurrence in the lives of some women,” Kendall wrote in “Hood Feminism.” 

Kendall focuses on domestic violence and the way it disproportionately impacts people of color -specifically women of color. 

Every month, 70 women on average are shot and killed by an intimate partner, according to the Everytown Research and Policy

“The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed,” Kendall wrote. 

Growing up in Chicago, Kendall talks about the stereotypes around gun violence in the inner city, and who it affects the most. 

“We have been led to believe that conditions are so bleak in the inner city that there’s nothing left to protect or support… but the reality is that Chicago’s problem with gun violence is America’s problem with gun violence,” Kendall wrote. 

DePaul professor of bioethics and health humanities Craig M. Klugman mentions that most guns used in Chicago shootings are illegal.

“In 2022, Chicago gun deaths are actually lower than in the previous two years,” Klugman said. “The numbers are higher than they were in the first two decades of the 21st century but are trending down.”

Illegal gun use and lack of background checks are a concern to many. 

“I know a lot of my friends from the South Side are getting concealed carry permits in Chicago,” sophomore Nathan Albovias said. “I’ve asked them about it and they’ve told me about how owning a gun makes them feel safer. The problem is with criminals who either pass background checks or buy guns on the black market.” 

Over the past year, Chicago gun death statistics have been changing. 

Statistically, these numbers disproportionately affect people of color. Black men make up 53 percent of gun death victims in U.S. adults, according to Klugman. 

Black women account for 13 percent of women in the U.S, but they make up 20 percent of women fatally shot by the police, according to The Washington Post. 

“That’s what it means to be Black in America,” Kendall wrote. “That’s what it means to be a Black woman in America.”

“When an annoying new neighbor carries the risk of being shot, the question isn’t whether gun violence is a feminist issue; the question is why mainstream feminism isn’t doing more to address the problem,” Kendall wrote.

Strengthening state laws, prohibiting domestic abusers, focusing on enforcement of existing state firearm relinquishment laws and strengthening the federal background check system are policy practices to reduce this reality, according to Everytown Research and Policy. 

“As a culture, as feminists, as potential and actual victims, we’re often too socially and emotionally entangled with dangerous people to recognize the risk until it is too late,” Kendall wrote. “We need to support violence-intervention programs at all levels and not assume that gun violence is a systemic issue in the inner city and episodic everywhere else.”

YMCA Chicago, UCAN Chicago, Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention and the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago are some of the many violence prevention programs in the city. 

The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago has different nonviolent prevention programs, such as victim services, nonviolence training, workforce development, community organizing, behavioral health and wellness and case management and reentry. 

“It’s time to treat gun violence like a feminist issue,” Kendall wrote. “We will either work to make it possible for all of us to be safe from gun violence or none of us will be.”