On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to see the play, Ann, a portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary Governor of Texas, written and performed by award-winning actress, Holland Taylor. Like many of us, my first experience in “meeting” Ann was during her momentous speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Her quick wit and sense of humor were her trademark, and I instantly became a fan.
It had been some time since I had thought about Ann Richards, and the play was a welcome reminder of everything she was and what she stood for. It was a powerful recall of her commitment to her constituents and to the many causes (women’s rights, equality, gay rights, gun control) that drove her to be one of the hardest working women in politics.
The Governor lost her bid for re-election in 1994, many say due, in part, to her incredibly brave decision to oppose a bill allowing Texans to carry concealed weapons. When asked about whether she thought the women of Texas might feel safer if they could carry guns in their purses, she replied, “Well I’m not a sexist, but there is not a woman in this state who could find a gun in her handbag, much less a lipstick.”
It has been almost 20 years since Ann Richards lost the election and her fight for gun control. Unfortunately, today when women dig into their bags, there’s a good chance they may have a gun in it. 23% of women own a gun (Gallop 2012). And it’s not just buying guns. The National Shooting Goods Association has reported that target shooting among females is up 46.5% in the past ten years.
In a country with an estimated 200 million guns, imposing new gun control laws has proven to be problematic and bureaucratically complicated, at best. Ann Richards was a woman who didn’t shy away from a good fight if it was something that mattered to her. I can’t help but wonder, “What would Ann think?” We could really use her leadership right about now.
The startling statistics on women and guns:
Cynthia Hornig, Co-Founder & Editorial Director, Women You Should Know