On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding 53. He had been investigated by the FBI previously. Because authorities determined he “did not constitute a substantive threat at the time,” Mateen was permitted to legally purchase a gun. Most of the guns used in the last 16 mass shootings, including the Orlando tragedy, were purchased legally. The Pulse shooting is just one of many recent attacks that have renewed cries for more stringent gun control.
So which is easier: getting an abortion or buying a gun?
Answer: buying a gun.
Since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973, abortion has been legal in the U.S. However, this right has been significantly curtailed by more than 280 state-enforced restrictions over the last six years. In comparison, regulations on gun ownership continue to be lax despite the gun violence epidemic.
Perhaps applying to gun ownership the kinds of restrictions lawmakers have placed on abortion could curb the significant number of gun-related deaths each year. Following the Colorado shooting at a Planned Parenthood office in 2015, Representative Stacey Newman (D-Missouri) proposed a new bill that would require an individual to wait 72 hours before purchasing a gun from a store at least 120 miles from home. The gun purchaser would also need a doctor’s testimony to prove his/her mental health and be required to watch a film on gun-related deaths before visiting an emergency trauma center. The bill was likely not intended to pass, but it drew welcome attention to the double standard between the invasive control of women’s reproductive bodies and a laissez faire attitude toward gun violence. More of this please.
Rep. Newman’s creative proposal makes a valuable point: we should push for a culture that enables women and their families to live their lives free from gun violence and gives women full control over their health care decisions.