When we’ve got bad news, we get comparisons that show how deluded people are on other subjects. The NRA has been doing a great job promoting less gun control, and one of their tactics has been the myth of woman empowerment by gun…when on average, women are far more anti-gun than men. But do I really need to be reminded that 29% of Americans believe in little green men?
The data on guns isn’t so good for the ladies. A 2003 study by The American Journal of Public Health found there was “no clear evidence” that owning a gun reduced women’s chances of being killed. An analysis this year by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that “in states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.” Six times more women were murdered by intimate partners than by strangers in 2010. A study published in the Journal of Urban Health in 2002 found that women were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun in states with high gun ownership than in states with low gun ownership. Of the 10 states with the highest rates of female homicide, five are in the South. Southern white men are the most likely to own guns, at 61 percent. Southern white women are the women most likely to own guns, at 25 percent. That’s 5 percent more than the percent of American women who believe aliens exist.
Aliens: More real than the myth that more guns means women are safer.
Or how about this: we get the good news that public support for gay marriage is rising, but get reminded that belief in creationism has been steady, and right now, only 44% disapprove of gay marriage, while 46% think the earth is 6000 years old.
What is going on? The Supreme Court hearings on the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest barriers to legalisation will fall eventually. Growing public support for same-sex marriage is another factor: the latest poll by the Pew Research Center shows 49 per cent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent disapproving.
This number is significant, not just because it shows that the swing in support for same-sex marriage has been swift, but because – as Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show this week – more Americans have an “evolved” view on same-sex marriage than actually believe in evolution. Forty-six per cent of them think the human race was created in a single day within the past 10,000 years, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. It is unclear how many of them will eventually evolve this view.
I get the message. People aren’t rational.
But I also get the promising message from the fact that we see a rise in support for gay marriage that there are tactics that work, and they involve actually touching personal and emotional and human values. The gay marriage campaign has been working because they’ve combined sound, logical arguments — how can you deny rights to one couple and give them to another? — with personal stories of people in love, and people excluded by cold regulations and bigotry.
We ought to try that more.