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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