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The Role of Fantasy in the Battered Woman’s Right to Bear Arms

Summary: The pro-gun imaginary narrative, when it comes to domestic violence, does not comport with the reality of intimate partner abuse and risks divorcing law and policy from the true needs of society.

  • Sherry Colb Sherry F. Colb
Published: June 29, 2021

This essay is part of the series Protests, Insur­rec­tion, and the Second Amend­ment

ABSTRACT: Most debates over gun rights are either inter­pret­ive, about the mean­ing of the Second Amend­ment, or empir­ical, about whether guns enhance or under­mine safety. My goal in this essay is to intro­duce a third factor into the debate: the “imagin­ary narrat­ive.” When I say “imagin­ary,” I mean to suggest a narrat­ive that does not reflect typical or common exper­i­ence. I use the context of guns and domestic viol­ence to illus­trate the phenomenon. The pro-gun imagin­ary narrat­ive, when it comes to domestic viol­ence, involves a victim confront­ing her abuser. Because she has a fire­arm, she is able to protect herself from him. But that fantasy does not comport with the real­ity of intim­ate part­ner abuse. I propose here that we acknow­ledge and inter­rog­ate imagin­ary narrat­ives lest our laws and policies become discon­nec­ted from the true needs of our soci­ety. 

The Role of Fantasy in the … by The Bren­nan Center for Justice