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Why Women Are Buying More Guns

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Gun control’s a little down in the polls, and gun sales are up. Why? Because more women are packing heat.

Keli Goff writes: A recently released New York Times/CBS poll included some headline grabbing findings about America’s evolving attitudes on gun control. The poll found that the number of Americans supporting a ban on assault weapons is 19 points lower today than it was after the shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in 2011.Perhaps more significant, it found that the number of Americans supporting stricter gun control in general has slipped 7 points in just two months. While these numbers may come as a surprise to many, they shouldn’t, because in the last few years the backbone of the gun control movement has been undergoing an evolution of its own. More and more women are buying guns. As the number of female gun owners has risen, so has the number of women expressing skepticism of gun control.

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“Gun control has almost nothing to do with ensuring the bad guys don’t have guns. Women increasingly seem to be understanding this.”

— Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus

More than a third of the women who participated in the National Sports Shooting Foundation’s most recent survey identified as new gun owners. This data are consistent with those of other organizations, including the National Sporting Goods Association. According to the NSGA’s Annual Sports Participation Report the number of women who practice target shooting increased nearly 36 percent (from 4.31 million to 5.86 million) between 2004 and 2014, while the number of women participating in hunting increased 23 percent (from 2.68 million to 3.3 million). In response to a request for comment, an NRA spokesman reported tracking a 77 percent increase between 2004 and 2011 in the number of women who own firearms.

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“According to Dees Thomases in the social media driven age it is much tougher to be a gun control activist—particularly a female one. ‘All women activists on this issue at some point are harassed,’ she said. ‘They try to publish your phone number and addresses,’ she said of gun control opponents.”

“Gun control has almost nothing to do with ensuring the bad guys don’t have guns. Women increasingly seem to be understanding this,” wrote Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus in an email.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Beast]

For years the movement for gun control has been driven by women leaders and supporters. The Million Mom March that took place on Mother’s Day 2000 was one of the most significant milestones in the modern day gun-control movement. Founded by Donna Dees Thomases in the aftermath of the shooting of children by a white supremacist in Grenada Hills, California, the movement built momentum that resulted in a number of legislative wins for gun control supporters.

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“As a result female supporters of gun control have not been as widely represented in media in recent years, which may be having an impact on public perception of the issue.”

Advocacy by Million Mom March chapters is credited with tougher gun laws being passed in states from Arizona to Maryland to New York, where Republican Governor and current presidential candidate George Pataki signed some of the nation’s strictest gun laws just months after the Million Mom March.

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So what happened to the Mom-mentum?

In a phone interview Dees Thomases disputed the notion that gun control supporters have lost ground or lost the support of women in the 15 years since their triumphant march. She pointed to the Million Mom March activists and alums now serving in elected office (at least three currently), not to mention others whose volunteerism for candidates supportive of gun control swung elections. “They threw a lot of rascals out of office,” she said. “People didn’t leave the march and go home and do nothing. We left that march and got sweeping reform passed.”

She also said that polling data on guns can be misleading, with the phrasing of questions often being key to which way responses tilt. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dystopia U: Vanderbilt Women’s Center to Lecture Men on ‘Healthy Masculinities’ 

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Vanderbilt University’s Women’s Center will be hosting a week-long event dedicated to lecturing men about what it means to have “healthy masculinity.”

Ashley Rae Goldenberg reports: The “Healthy Masculinities Week” is sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, which claims to be devoted to “Celebrating Women” while “Empowering All.”liberal-huh

The mission of the Women’s Center is to affirm a “space for all members of the Vanderbilt community that acknowledges and actively resists sexism, racism, homophobia, and all forms of oppression while advocating for positive social change.”

The “core values” of the Women’s Center includes the idea that, “progress toward gender equality calls all of us to be champions for change” while simultaneously claiming to “celebrate the unique differences among all persons and work to build community in diversity.”

Healthy Masculinities Week” hopes to encourage men to “[e]xplore healthy masculinity through various lenses,” such as “American society, the gay and bisexual community, fraternities, and more.”

The first event as part of the “Healthy Masculinities Week” is called, “The Macho Paradox: Why some men hurt and how all men can help.” The title is a reference to a book by Jackson Katz, who is a self-proclaimed “anti-sexist activist” and the speaker for the event.

[Read the full text here, at MRCTV]

The full title for Katz’s book is, “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.” It is unclear why the word “Women” was removed from Vanderbilt’s event listing

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According to a review for Katz’s book, “Katz explores those aspects of American culture that promote violence against women, focusing separate chapters on pornography, prostitution, and other sex-related businesses as well as sexual violence in the military, the music industry, and athletics.” Read the rest of this entry »


Political Warriors Black Robes? Poll: Negative Views of Supreme Court at Record High

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68% of Conservatives Identifies Court as Liberal

Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.

“Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court ‘are often influenced by their own political views.’ Just 24% say they ‘generally put their political views aside. when deciding cases.”

Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, finds that 7-29-2015-12-42-28-PMmost of the increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court has come among Republicans.

“Most Americans (54%) say that the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% say it is too powerful.”

Just 33% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the court, while 61% have an unfavorable view. Since March, the share of Republicans viewing the court favorably has fallen 17 percentage points (from 50% to 33%), while the share with an unfavorable impression has jumped 21 percentage points (from 40% to 61%). Republicans’ views of the Supreme Court are now more negative than at any point in the past three decades.

“Only about one-in-ten (7%) thinks the court has too little power”

In contrast, Democrats’ views of the Supreme Court have become more positive since March, though the change has not been as dramatic. Currently, 62% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the court, up from 54% four months ago.

There also has been a major shift in how Americans, especially those at either end of the ideological spectrum, view the Supreme Court’s ideology. The share of the public saying the current Supreme Court is liberal has doubled since March, driven by changing attitudes among Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans.

Overall, 39% of the public views the court as middle-of-the-road, 36% as liberal and 18% as conservative. The share saying the court is liberal has increased from 26% to 36% over the past few months and stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 2007. There has been a ten-point decline in the number saying the court is conservative (18% today, 28% in March), while the share saying it is middle-of-the-road is little changed (39% now, 38% then).

Opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided

Currently, 68% of conservative Republicans say the current Supreme Court is liberal – up 20 points since 7-29-2015-12-25-38-PMMarch and by far the highest percentage since 2007. About a quarter of conservative Republicans (24%) say the court has a middle-of-the-road approach and 5% see it as conservative.

Liberal Democrats now generally view the current Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; in March, most saw the court as conservative. Currently, 49% of liberal Democrats say it is middle-of-the-road (up from 31% in March). Three-in-ten (30%) say it is conservative, down from 56% in March. And 17% say the court is liberal, about double the share who said this in March (8%).

Perceptions of the court’s ideology have changed less among those closer to the middle of the ideological spectrum. Moderate and liberal Republicans’ continue to be divided: 42% see the Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; 40% say it is liberal and 13% say it is conservative. A plurality of conservative and moderate 7-29-2015-12-26-53-PMDemocrats (43%) continue to say it is middle-of-the-road.

The change in independents’ views of the Supreme Court’s ideology mirrors the shift among the public: 41% say it is middle-of-the-road, little changed from 38% in March; 36% see it as liberal (up 11 points) and 18% say it is conservative (down 10 points). The share of Republican-leaning independents who say the court is liberal has risen from 38% to 54%. Just 23% of independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the same, up a modest seven percentage points since March.

Other findings

Little Change in Views of Same-Sex Marriage, Affordable Care Act. In contrast to opinions about the Supreme Court, views on two issues that were the subject of its high-profile rulings – same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law – have shown little change. Currently, 54% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 39% are opposed. In May, before the Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57% favored and 39% opposed same-sex marriage. The public is divided over 7-29-2015-12-26-37-PMthe 2010 health care law: 48% approve of the law and 49% disapprove. In February, 45% approved of the health care law and 53% disapproved.

Few Think Supreme Court Justices Set Aside Their Political Views. Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court “are often influenced by their own political views.” Just 24% say they “generally put their political views aside” when deciding cases. The belief that justices are swayed by their own political views spans partisan and demographic groups. The survey also finds that a majority of the public (56%) says the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding cases; 39% say they should not be influenced by public opinion.

Supreme Court Not Viewed as ‘Too Powerful.’ A majority (54%) says the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% think it has too much power; 7% say it has too little power. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (33%) to view the court as too powerful.

Supreme Court Favorability

Partisanship, ideology and religious affiliation are all factors in views of the Supreme Court. In addition, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law have starkly different opinions about the Supreme Court.

By a 63% to 28% margin, those who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. By almost an identical margin (63% to 30%), those who oppose same-sex 7-29-2015-12-26-04-PMmarriage have an unfavorable impression of the court. The association between views of the court and opinions on same-sex marriage is far stronger than in the past.

Opinions of the court among those who approve and disapprove of the 2010 health care law are similarly divided (61% of those who approve of the law have a favorable opinion of the court, compared with just 33% of those who disapprove). Supporters and opponents of the law were less divided last year, but were similarly split following the court’s 2012 term, in which it ruled the law was constitutional.

Since March, the plunge in the Supreme Court’s favorability among Republicans has largely come among conservatives. Just 27% of conservative Republicans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court. Four months ago, nearly half (48%) did so. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, there has been a smaller, nine-point decline in positive views of the court (45% now, 54% then). Read the rest of this entry »


A Cosmic Quest for Dark Matter

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Scientists are hunting one of the biggest prizes in physics: tiny particles called wimps that could unlock some of the universe’s oldest secrets

Gautam Naik writes: A mile under Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain, scientists are seeking one of the smallest objects in the universe—and one of the biggest prizes in physics: a wimp.

A wimp—a weakly interacting massive particle—is thought to be the stuff of dark matter, an invisible substance that makes up about a quarter of the universe but has never been seen by humans.

Gravity is the force that holds things together, and the vast majority of it emanates from dark matter. Ever since the big bang, this mystery material has been the universe’s prime architect, giving it shape and structure. Without dark matter, there would be no galaxies, no stars, no planets. Solving its mystery is crucial to understanding what the universe is made of.

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“If we don’t assume that 85% of the matter in the universe is this unknown material, the laws of relativity and gravity would have to be modified. That would be significant,” says physicist Giuliana Fiorillo, a member of the 150-strong team searching for the particles at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, 80 miles east of Rome.

The quest for dark matter has intensified since the discovery of the Higgs boson particle two years ago, which helped to narrow the field in which wimps might be hiding. Today, more than 20 different teams of researchers are hunting for the elusive stuff, using some of the most elaborate and delicate experiments ever devised.

Dark-matter detectors have been installed on the sea bed nearly 8,200 feet beneath the surface. Others operate deep inside mines. There is one on the International Space Station. China’s new dark-matter experiment sits 1.5 miles beneath a marble mountain. When it restarts later this year, the Large Hadron Collider will look for wimps, too, by smashing together subatomic particles.

Scientists estimate that visible matter makes up just 4% of the universe, while dark matter makes up 23%. The remaining 73% is an even bigger puzzle, a repulsive force known as “dark energy.”

Dark matter neither emits nor absorbs light. We know it is out there, because scientists can measure the immense gravitational force it exerts on stars, galaxies and other cosmic bodies. The best candidate for what dark matter consists of is the wimp: an ethereal being that barely interacts with normal matter. Every second, billions of wimps flow through the Earth without hitting anything. Read the rest of this entry »


One in Four Americans Unaware that Earth Circles Sun

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(AFP)—Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.

The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

Nine questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score — 6.5 correct — was barely a passing grade.

Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Fewer than half (48 percent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

Read the rest of this entry »