Should women runners carry guns for self-defense?

September 29, 2022 – Some women in the U.S. have turned to carrying concealed firearms for protection while running. But carrying a concealed weapon may not be the best way for women runners to protect themselves, according to some experts.

A September 23 article in the Guardian noted that while murders of women runners are rare, even incidents of sexual harassment that don’t end in abduction, serious injury, or death can have significant negative impacts on women. And even just hearing about cases such as the recent murder of Eliza Fletcher in Tennessee may make women runners feel unsafe.

David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, doesn’t recommend that women runners carry guns for self-defense. “When looking at data regarding defensive gun use in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), there was no evidence that gun use reduced the likelihood of injury during attacks on women,” he said in the article. He added, “Being able to stand still, carefully aim and shoot a target is not going to help you if you’re attacked. Your heart is pounding, your fight or flight [instinct] kicks in, adrenaline is flowing, it’s a very different situation than when you’re standing in a gun range.”

He suggested that women who are concerned about threats choose a different running route, run during the day, or run in groups. For protection, he said, “bear spray is much safer to use and just as effective as a gun would be.”

Read the Guardian article: For US women who run, fear of assault is shockingly common – but the solution remains unclear