Rape Victims: Defend or Submit?

Every woman should have the option to defend herself.

SB11 by Sen. Birdwell is drawing a lot of attention this session, as well it should. Unfortunately, much of the attention is coming from people and organizations for whom truth and accuracy are not attributes they hold dear. SB11 is the so-called “campus-carry” Bill, but it would be more accurately described as a “carry handguns in college buildings” bill because it is already legal to carry handguns all over college and university campuses. One simply cannot carry them in school buildings. This fact is more than trivia, it proves that the dire predictions coming from opponents of SB11 are nothing more than lies coming from people who do not feel constrained by the truth.

A public hearing was held on February 12, 2015 in the Senate State Affairs Committee during which SB11 was considered, along with SB17 (open-carry). Testimony was pretty much as one would expect, with one very big surprise. That testimony came from Austin Police Dept. Chief Art Acevedo. Acevedo first bragged that Texas Concealed Handgun Licensees were great, very law-abiding people and that the Texas CHL program was the gold standard in the country. Inexplicably, he then claimed that these great and law-abiding people would pose a danger if they stepped across the threshold of a college building.

As absurd as the Chief’s verbal sleight of hand was, it paled in comparison to the very un-Texan attitude this recent California transplant took toward rape victims. Although the campus-carry Bill will allow adult students to defend against a broad range of violent crimes including mass-murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and rape, the remainder of this article will deal with rape.

Lest opponents of SB11 argue that this writer does not know the correct legal terminology for the crime, it is acknowledged that the offense set out in Chp. 22 of the Texas Penal Code uses the term “sexual assault.” The change in Texas law dates back several years when, for political reasons, activists were successful in changing the terminology from “rape” to “sexual assault.” That was a huge mistake! “Sexual assault” is too sterile, too devoid of emotional impact to truly and accurately impart the horrific nature of the crime. The word “rape” is a far better descriptor of the violent act and the life-long emotional toll it takes on the victim and their loved ones. “Rape” strikes fear in the hearts of women and it produces rage in men whose wives, daughters, girlfriends or mothers have been rape victims. This is the true nature of the crime and its aftermath and it puts the shocking statements of Chief Acevedo in perspective.

Sworn Testimony by APD Chief Art Acevedo

During the February 12th public hearing on SB11, Chief Acevedo testified under oath that women should not carry self-defense handguns because they could become a murder victim, rather than merely a rape victim. He went on to say that there are several resources available to rape victims. His message to women was shockingly clear, it is better to submit to a rapist and then use the rape victim resources that are available, than to defend against their attacker. Although Acevedo’s testimony was against the campus-carry Bill, his philosophy obviously extends beyond the boundaries of colleges and universities. According to Chief Acevedo, if a woman is going to be raped, she should accept her fate and seek help after the fact. Thankfully, Chief, you do not get to make that decision.

Defend or submit, only the intended victim can make that choice.

Whether a woman decides to fight back or submit to a rape is her decision and hers alone. It is not one to be made by Chief Acevedo, school administrators, military combat veterans, or the Texas Legislature. For many women, simply not dying at the hands of a rapist does not equal surviving the attack. There truly are worse things than death as countless rape victims will attest. Life-long fear, inability to trust others or to have normal loving relationships, mental illness and permanent physical injuries are just a few of the sequelae that many rape victims suffer. No Chief, this is not your call.

The Chief’s sworn testimony is not only shocking, it is insulting. He presumes that women are incapable of defending themselves with handguns. There is absolutely no evidence to support such an outlandish position. Handguns are the very things that make women the equal of the violent men who would prey on them believing them to be defenseless. Sorry Chief, you are wrong again.

Texas law has long recognized the right of a woman to defend herself against a rapist by the use of deadly force. The right of self-defense is meaningless if one is denied the tools necessary to exercise that right, so Texas law also allows women who have a Texas Concealed Handgun License to carry self-defense handguns. The Texas Legislature must remove the legal barrier to effective self-defense that exists on college and university campuses. Rapists currently enjoy a target-rich environment where armed self-defense is not legally possible. Thus far, the Legislature has taken the defend-or-submit decision away from women and placed their future in the hands of violent predators.