Do Women Prefer AR-15 Rifles?

During gun hearing, one woman explains that assault weapons ban would hurt women most.

Gayle Trotter, senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum, left, sits next to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, as she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. Supporters and opponents of stricter gun control measures face off at a hearing on what lawmakers should do to curb gun violence in the wake of last month's shooting rampage in Newtown, Ct., that killed 20 schoolchildren.

Gayle Trotter, senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum, left, sits next to National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, on Capitol Hill Wednesday as she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence.

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One of the most contentious moments of Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control came when a witness insisted that military-style AR-15 rifles were the "weapon of choice" among the ladies.

The comment elicited cackles in the back of the hearing room, crowded with heavy hitters from gun control groups and National Rifle Association reps.

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"Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice," Independent Women's Forum senior fellow Gayle Trotter dead-panned. "The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They're light. They're easy for women to hold."

But Trotter's endorsement of the civilianized assault rifle didn't end there. She told grim-faced lawmakers that the weaker sex needed those 30 rifle rounds to protect against an attack.

"If we ban assault weapons you are putting women at a greater disadvantage ... because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle," Trotter said. "For women, the ability to arm ourselves for our protection is even more consequential than for men because guns are the great equalizer in a violent confrontation."

Trotter shared the story of Sarah McKinley during her testimony. On New Year's Eve, McKinley shot and killed a knife-carrying  home invader to protect her baby, according to local TV Station KOCO.

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"It was either going to be him or my son," McKinley later told news outlets. "And it wasn't going to be my son."

Since then, pro-gun women's groups have often used McKinley's story to promote how guns can protect women in their lives.

And Trotter is not the first to endorse the idea that more women should learn to handle AR-15 rifles.

Last week, the "gun girls," Celia Bigelow and Aubrey Blankenship, appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan's show to promote more women using the weapons.

"I want a gun that can hold a lot of ammo because if I'm faced with an intruder or multiple intruders that come into my home, I want to make sure I have enough ammo to get the job done, especially if they're armed," said Bigelow, who is the founder of Students Against Obama.

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But not everyone is so sure that arming more women is the best way to keep them safe.

"The overall majority of Americans don't believe fundamentally that the answer to violence is more violence, the answer to guns is more guns," says Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign, a group that works for legislation to curb gun violence. "It was a blatantly inaccurate statement to say that [Trotter] was representing most women with her thoughts,"

After Sandy Hook, polling shows that despite Trotter's appeal, a majority of women favor tougher gun laws.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 66 percent of women supported an assault weapons ban compared to 50 percent of men.

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