BY CAROL CROSSED
Two of the most contentious issues this election year are gun owners' rights and abortion rights. In 2008, out of 4,600 registered political action committees (PACs), the National Rifle Association was ranked 14th, with $650,000 going to Republicans. Abortion rights PAC EMILY's List is ranked 5th largest, with $6,500,000 going to Democrats.
Despite the approximately 20 mass shootings and 1.1 million abortions annually in the United States, supporters for both causes fight any restrictions on what they consider their constitutional rights. For instance, Colorado has no gun registration law. Most Democrats in Congress voted in May 2012 to allow abortions even if the reason was that the unborn child was the "undesired" gender.
Both the gun and abortion industries claim a need for self-protection. NRA ads, increasingly marketed to women, use abortion-rights language: "A gun is a choice women need to know more about and be free to make. The NRA is working to ensure the freedom of that choice always exists." 85% of women gun owners claim their purchase is for self-defense. But the Violence Policy Center reported in 2001 that women are more likely to be victims of homicides with handguns than to use handguns in justifiable homicides. For every woman who used a gun in self-defense, 101 women were murdered with handguns.
Likewise, the abortion-rights lobby claims abortion is needed in cases of rape or life endangerment, when only 1.1% of women who have abortions cite using abortion for those reasons.
Photo by Pop Culture Geek on flickr; some rights reserved.
In the meantime, both guns and abortion are available with few restrictions to justify these extreme and rare cases. The primary victims of gun violence and abortion are often minorities and the poor.
Supporters consider guns and abortion symbols of American freedom and claim even reasonable limitations or regulations would infringe on their privacy. Planned Parenthood opposes spousal notification and even parental consent laws in the case of teenagers' abortions. The gun industry fights gun restrictions in private venues.
It's argued that abortions and shootings will happen whether they are legal or not. Indeed, sources say legislation may not have prevented the Colorado massacre killer from stockpiling weapons from the black market. Another market will find an abortionist for the right price.
But laws prohibiting taking life are teachers and can change attitudes about moral behavior. Relentless, unmitigated individualism requires logical limits to our freedoms in order to reduce violence in our world. Adding laws to provide common-sense restrictions and regulations for abortion and gun ownership will go far to promote a culture of peace for ourselves and our posterity. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The law cannot make you love me, but it can keep you from lynching me."