Imagine how difficult it would be to arm yourself if buying a gun was like obtaining an abortion in Missouri. You would be forced to think long and hard about purchasing that assault rifle or handgun: Have you fully thought about all of your options? Do you really know what you're doing when you're buying that piece of metal? Maybe you should have thought about these consequences sooner — where's your responsibility?
The gun rights and abortion rights debates collided this week following two mass shootings, including an attack at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado last Friday that left three people dead. Then, on Wednesday, a couple stormed a facility for people with disabilities in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. In both shooting attacks, high-caliber assault rifles were used.
But on Tuesday, a day before a 20-something couple with possible terrorist links opened fire in San Bernardino, Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman pre-filed a bill in the state legislature that seeks to challenge the double standard driving a wedge between abortion rights and gun rights in America: If you want a legal gun, then you should be forced, by the state, to jump through the same hoops of women trying to obtain a legal abortion.
"If we truly insist that Missouri cares about 'all life,' then we must take immediate steps to address our major cities' rising rates of gun violence," Newman, a staunch reproductive justice and gun control advocate, said this week in a statement. "Since restrictive policies regarding a constitutionally protected medical procedure are the GOP's legislative priority each year, it makes sense that their same restrictions apply to those who may commit gun violence."
The measure, House Bill 1397, echoes the stringent abortion laws already in place in Missouri, a hostile anti-abortion battleground that has tightened its restrictions in recent years. Currently, Missouri has a 72-hour mandatory waiting period before abortion procedures — the longest in the nation — and requires women to undergo in-person state-directed counseling designed to discourage patients. Doctors must sign off that patients have underwent the counseling, and all abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Missouri also has just two abortion providers — one of which almost closed this week — leaving the majority of Missouri women about one hundred miles from a clinic. Between the in-person counseling and waiting period, patients must make at least two trips to the clinic before undergoing an abortion.
"[Missouri is] one of the most restrictive states in terms of reproductive restriction with our 72-hour wait for an abortion," Newman said in an interview with Esquire. "Every year, there are more and more bills being filed, and some of them are quite egregious, like requiring the father of the pregnancy to give consent, which in an incest or rape situation is obviously horrible. ... I've had it."
Well, if women have to wait 72 hours, after the in-person counseling, for an abortion, then why not extend that state-mandated waiting period to buying a firearm? Newman's bill proposes that all prospective firearm buyers must wait 72 hours after putting in the initial request to purchase a gun from a licensed firearm dealer. Oh, and to make things fair and equal, that licensed firearm dealer must be at least 120 miles away. Newman's bill also stipulates that prospective gun buyers would have to undergo counseling with a licensed medical professional to discuss the "physical, psychological or situational factors" that may arise from owning a firearm. The physician would then evaluate the prospective gun buyer and assess these psychological and emotional risks. Any Missouri resident who wants to purchase a firearm would need written consent from a physician.
Then, the firearm dealer would need to notify the buyer of all the "immediate and long-term medical health risks" of owning a firearm, as well as "alternatives" to buying a firearm, including information on other "peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolutions." The gun buyer would also have to watch a 30-minute video, in the presence of the firearm dealer, on fatal firearm injuries. Finally, the gun buyer would have to tour a trauma center that treats gun violence victims, and, within 72 hours of purchasing the firearm, meet with families of gun violence victims.
If that sounds ridiculous, it's essentially what Missouri women have to go through before having an abortion. Yet if both abortion and owning a gun is a legal, constitutional right in both Missouri and the rest of the United States, then why does Missouri have just two abortion clinics and a slew of state regulations, while catering to over 200 firearm retailers?
Perhaps to make things even more equal, Missouri should close all but two gun retailers in the state. You know, for equal access.