#MeToo: Women Who Shot Men in Self-Defense is a special book, just out in 2018. Special, not just in being another powerful tool against the prejudice against guns and individual self-defense so common in society, but in its development and focus, too.
It’s available on Amazon.com in paperback (in black & white, which makes the charts hard to interpret). It had been available in color paperback for a substantial premium, but doesn’t come up. I’d recommend the full color Kindle version. A PDF version may be downloaded at the ToBearArms website, comparable to the Kindle version.
Robert Hodam is a Stanford engineering graduate, recently retired as CEO of the International Center for Economic Growth, a network of economists in most of the countries in the world. He founded and funds ToBearArms.net, which collects documented reports of defensive gun uses (DGUs). He’s also been a fry cook, roustabout, a bartender and a U.S. Army captain, so he knows the world from all perspectives. He writes about it as a novelist, but here decided to depict one of its aspects with reportorial objectivity. In fact, #MeToo is primarily comprised of 257 quoted news stories about women who saved themselves (and sometimes others) by shooting male attackers.
Hodam was apparently influenced by the tragic 2015 Bataclan massacre in France where terrorists executed 90 theatre-goers (while others killed 40 other people in bombings that day). It was obvious to many that the impossibility of self-defense by the audience due to France’s prohibition of carrying handguns (and other strictures) guaranteed such a high body count.
He responded to this, and to the co-occurring #MeToo movement of women protesting men’s assaults, by collecting true stories of women who successfully defend themselves against men. (This is not as one-sided as it sounds—women rarely have to defend themselves against deadly attacks by other women.) And he did it in a remarkably objective way.
In his words, “The project was financed entirely by the author; no outside funds were accepted. . . [T]he data collector was a [woman] who has never visited the US and has no relatives in the US. She is relatively unfamiliar with the US constitution or issues surrounding the right to bear arms. . . All reports were obtained through random keyword online searches . . . and were included in the database unedited . . . [and] included verbatim” in the book. Incidents were found in all 50 states.
It begins with a reference section, mostly of colored pie charts showing the distribution of data found. An initial comment notes that the greatest number of incidents per capita came from Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The fewest were from Vermont, Hawaii and Montana. Obviously, the incidence of DGUs does not correlate with state firearm cultures.
The charts begin with one showing that about 25% of DGUs are by women. This must come from an unattributed source, since the universe of 1,400 or so cases researched are said to be all about women. It does seem unlikely that all “these women made a conscious decision to buy a gun” since many DGUs occur using another family member’s gun.
The rest of the charts are clearly derived from the collected reports. “Crimes against Women” show that the predominant reasons for defense were, in order, home invasion, robbery and some form of personal assault. The “Good Guys” overwhelmingly used handguns (94%), followed by <3% shotguns and rifles each. From a subsequent not, less than 12% (161 of about 1,400) had carry permits, but no one was accused of illegal possession. The “Bad Guys” were more eclectic in their choice of weapons: pistols, long guns, clubbing tools and, important to note, “none” in 16% of incidents. Men are dangerous to women with their bare hands—that is “disparity of force”, an important concept in judging necessary response.
Most DGUs were done by women 56+ years old, then 20-35, then 36-55. Youth 0-19 had to in only 8% of reports. How these distributions were affected by the differing number of years in the groups, by locations, and by activities that vary with age or other factors is unaddressed.
“Bad Guys” were “overwhelmingly . . . younger than their victims”. Most were 20-35 years old, then 36-55, then 13-19. None were under 13, and <3% were older than 55. When ethnicity/race were reported (it’s not said how consistently), 57% were white, 30% black, and about 6% each Hispanic or Asian.
The main purpose of the book is to see four big, popular “Myths Busted”:
- “That people, especially women, are not capable of defending themselves with a gun.” This is blatantly false, and highly sexist about women in particular.
- “People using a gun in self-defense . . . will more likely be killed by the bad guy rather than protecting themselves.” There was only one instance in over 1,400 reports of the bad guy killing the defender.
- “People . . . will end up accidentally shooting themselves, a family member, friend or other innocent person.” There were no incidents among the more than 1,400 onew in which any innocent party was shot by the defender.
- “Anyone shooting another person, even in self-defense, will end up in jail.” In almost every case, law enforcement cleared the defender, and in no cases were charges filed.
The next 230 pages contain 257 verbatim media reports of DGUs by women against men, all but very few occurring from 2015 through 2018 (the few earlier happening between 2005 and 2013). There is no point in quoting any here, since they are exactly what we find any day we look for them. The value of gathering them together is that too many ignorant Americans don’t know, want or care to find out how common such attacks are, and to highlight the importance and success of women defending themselves against them.
I highly recommend #MeToo: Women Who Shot Men in Self-Defense. It is an excellent companion to other pro-rights, self-defense advocacy work like John Lott’s The War on Guns.
Anyone who writes about firearm use in the real world should have this reference. Instructors teaching armed self-defense, especially to women, will use its findings and examples again and again. It will empower women who intend to protect themselves and loved ones. Because it is available so inexpensively in digital format, there is no excuse not to have this resource at hand.
It’s on my bookshelf, and should be on yours.
— DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.