Lily Herman is a contributing editor at Refinery29. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Allure, TIME, Newsweek, Fast Company, and Mashable. Follow her on Twitter. The views expressed are her own.
You might have noticed a quote making the rounds on social media this week in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. It argues that men who buy guns, like the domestic terrorist whose unimaginable attack shattered countless lives this week, should be subjected to the same scrutiny as women who seek to exercise their reproductive rights and bodily autonomy by choosing to get an abortion.
The powerful words weren’t penned in response to this latest massacre and the rising calls for action on gun laws in response; in fact, they’ve been around for years (Gloria Steinem included the passage in a 2015 holiday wish list posted on her Facebook page). But the quote is striking a chord at this moment for an important reason: it perfectly describes the hypocrisy of what’s happening in Washington right now.
Of course, that’s not what Republicans did. Just days after the deadliest shooting in modern American history, House Republicans are grandstanding on the sanctity of life by voting to ban abortions from happening 20 weeks after conception. They aren’t talking about banning civilians from getting assault rifles or semi-automatic weapons that literally claim lives — it took a literal massacre for them to hold off on a vote to legalize gun silencers, after all. In other words, Republicans feel like they can tell a woman what to do with her body using the power of legislation, but then they act like a man buying an instrument of death is a matter that’s completely outside of their scope as lawmakers.
Not caring about the sanctity of life when it comes to gun violence is not a mantle Republicans can claim. We only need to look at the numbers of the havoc and hell such weapons have wrought:
— Experts estimate that there’ve been at least 1,518 mass shootings since Sandy Hook in December 2012, which have claimed the lives of over 1,700 people and injured another 6,000.
— The U.S. also has more gun-related deaths than virtually any other high-income nation; the firearm-related murder rate is 25 times higher than the 22 other most developed nations.
— Despite being only 4.4 percent of the global population, Americans have 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. And just to add some gender stats here, almost two-thirds of gun owners in the U.S. are men.
The frustrating part of all of this is, research has shown that the majority of Americans do think legislation could curb gun violence. For instance, a whopping 86 percent of American voters believe there should be universal background checks for people buying guns, and experts agree that this would be an effective initiative to curb gun violence (it's worth noting that an overwhelming number of gun owners support such changes, too). Americans have good ideas to end these massacres and save lives; their conservative representatives have done nothing substantial to show that they care.
Republicans keep citing the line from the Declaration of Independence that states that the government guarantees Americans the “preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But how are Republicans guaranteeing people the preservation of life if they’re actively passing legislation that allows others to easily accumulate weapons to end lives?
Spoiler: They’re not.
Refinery29 accepts opinion articles on any topic for the Strong Opinions page. Email email@example.com to submit your own.
This content is currently unavailable. Check it out from your desktop or on our web app!