By Carol Crossed
At his press conference about gun control, President Obama was clear and uncomplicated: The Constitution protects the right to bear arms. But some restraints on our freedom are necessary to protect innocent people.
This should carry weight with Republicans since this is the same argument they make to Democrats about abortion rights. Even the most ardent supporters of both guns and abortion do not deny this intellectually honest reality: the byproducts of these constitutional rights are dead bodies.
Both abortion rights supporters and proponents of gun ownership tirelessly lobby to prohibit any reasonable restrictions. Polls demonstrate public support for limits, like the sale of assault weapons, and parental consent and informed consent for abortions. Fearing the slippery slope, no compromise can be broached by these extremists. Lobby industries are quick to remind us that they don’t purport to force anyone to own a gun or to have an abortion. Gun shops and abortion clinics, according to these defenders, should be accessible for those who want one.
Women are the marketing pawns in this sorry scenario of choice. The language both industries employ is nearly identical. Preying on women’s fears, a National Rifle Association ad reads, “A gun is a choice women need to know more about and be free to make. The NRA is working to ensure that the freedom of that choice always exists.”
However, the Journal of Public Health reports that if a handgun is in the house, women are five times more likely to be killed. Likewise, females are the gender of choice in sex-selective abortions. This preference for male children has created a severe ratio imbalance in some countries.
While many NRA-supporting Republicans and Planned Parenthood-supporting Democrats point fingers at one another, the only winners are lobbyists and legislators. Pro-gun rights and pro-abortion rights groups rank highest in political action committee (PAC) money raised and spent for lobbying, and to elect legislators to support their all-or-nothing agenda. The 2012 Federal Election Committee reports 7,000 PACs. The NRA ranks 15th, with $21 million to protect gun owner rights. EMILY’s List ranks fourth with $57 million to protect abortion rights.
Accurate information about violence is less likely to incite violence than it is to reduce violence. Martin Luther King Jr. said speaking the truth creates necessary tension to force social change. It is not meant to challenge the powerless to incite.
At a vigil after the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic, a rally sign said, “Guns and abortion stop a beating heart.” There’s an opinion with something to offend everybody.
Carol Crossed is on the board of directors of Feminists Choosing Life of New York, an arm of Feminists for Nonviolent Choices.