The following column is by Regis Nicoll, a freelance writer and Christian columnist.
“When you think of Missouri,” urges New York Times columnist Gail Collins, “give a fond mental shout-out to Stacey Newman.” Collins’ plug comes in response to a bill Newman introduced to the Missouri state legislature intended as an eye-poke to the predominately pro-life body.
What’s Good for the Goose
Deeming “what’s-good-for-abortion-is-good-for-gun-control,” Democratic lawmaker Newman calls for restrictions on firearm buyers like those imposed on women seeking an abortion. For instance, writes Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune,
In Missouri, a woman must sign an informed consent form 72 hours before having an abortion. She must be offered a chance to see an ultrasound of the fetus, be given a booklet with pictures of fetal development every two weeks during a pregnancy and a list of organizations providing help to carry the pregnancy to term. The abortion provider must include information about possible fetal pain and potential hazards to a woman’s health.
Thus, Newman’s bill requires a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and a physician’s evaluation of the buyer’s risk “of experiencing an adverse physical, emotional, or other health reaction” from gun ownership. Seriously. And that’s just the beginning.
Prospective gun buyers would also be required to: view a video on firearm deaths in the presence of a licensed dealer; tour a trauma center when gun violence victims are present; meet with two families victimized by gun violence; consult with two religious leaders who have officiated at the funerals of young victims; and purchase the weapon at least 120 miles from their home (the average distance a Missourian must travel for an abortion.)
Newman’s bill is dead on arrival and she knows it. What’s far more likely to pass, she frets, is a law requiring women to [gasp] “get permission [to abort] from the man who impregnated them.” In her moral imagination, it is unthinkable that the father who helped make the child should have a say in what happens to it. I wonder what she would think about a friend who felt she was entitled to sell a quilt they made together without her consent, because it was kept in her friend’s house.
The whole point of Newman’s effort, writes Keller sympathetically, is to “highlight the hypocrisy of how women’s bodies and guns are regulated in the United States.” Instead, it highlights the muddled thinking, or duplicity, of those who argue that the two issues are in any way analogous.
Abortion is a service sought solely for the ending of a human life. Service providers eagerly oblige, taking the lives of over 1 million children a year and bartering over the price of their body parts with all the insouciance of Josef Mengele as they enjoy a power lunch of arugula and Cabernet. Firearms, by contrast, are products purchased for numerous uses (hunting, collection, sport and recreational shooting, self-defense, crime deterrence, etc.) that very rarely result in a lethal shooting.
According to the Gun Violence Archive website, there were about 12,500 firearm deaths in 2015. Subtracting those resulting from police officer incidents and personal defense, the number of gun-related fatalities reduces to about five thousand. That’s for an estimated 347 million firearms in the U.S. Thus, whereas every abortion results in the death of a human being, only about one-thousandth of one percent of the nation’s firearms lead to a fatality. Yet, no analogy is too tenuous or extreme for those who fear an armed citizenry.
Take the liberal reaction to the San Bernardino shooting that claimed the lives 14 people and injured 22 others. Never ones to let a good crisis go to waste, the Administration, MSM, and gun-control lobby used the Islamic terrorist — yes, Islamic; yes, terrorist — massacre to shame conservatives for offering prayers for the victims (of all things) while dragging their feet on gun control.
Lost upon the moralizers is that this happened in a state (California) that has some of the toughest “common-sense” gun controls in the nation, including not a 72-hour, but a 10-day waiting period and passing a written test for purchase. Then there’s the inconvenient fact, conveniently ignored, that the correlation between firearm restrictions and gun-related deaths is weak to non-existent, as documented by Harvard and others.
Yet, in the extreme case, had all the firearms in the land been confiscated and destroyed, it wouldn’t have prevented San Bernardino and similar mass killings, nor deterred the miscreants that perpetrated them. Indeed, many of those tragedies could have been worse.
Remember, Syed Farook and his wife had at least a dozen pipe bombs that no degree of gun control would have prevented from deployment. In the same week, a group of fifth graders (10 and 11 year olds!) were arrested for plotting to bomb a nearby high school. And let’s not forget the Tsarnaev brothers who killed 3 people and injured 260 others with a couple of pressure-cooker bombs. I could go on. But these examples are sufficient to show that the savage hell-bent on unleashing havoc on society will find a way — be it with firearms, explosives, incendiaries, chemicals, biotoxins, vehicles, or knives (all of which have been used, to great effect).
What’s more, these examples and many (perhaps, most) others have nothing to do with mental health. Rather, they’re the results of poor moral choices shaped by bad ideology/theology. That suggests moral/theological solutions, not legal and therapeutic ones. However, a country that has moved so far from its theological underpinnings that public figures are criticized for invoking God and prayer for the comfort of victims, needs to brace itself for the maelstrom that San Bernardino was but a harbinger.
Regis Nicoll is a commissioned Centurion with the Centurion Program, a ministry of BreakPoint and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. After a 30-year career as a nuclear specialist, Regis became a freelance writer who writes on current cultural issues from a Christian perspective. His work regularly appears on BreakPoint online and the Crux Project among other places. Regis also teaches and speaks on a variety of worldview topics, covering everything from Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern Generation to String Theory. As a men’s ministry leader in his community, Regis also conducts seminars for the spiritual development of men.