How Gun, Prayer and Abortion Decisions Harm Us Over the Long Term

In appeasing the Christian right, the recent Supreme Court rulings presage an unenviable future for the country

How Gun, Prayer and Abortion Decisions Harm Us Over the Long Term
Demonstrators protest gun violence in New York City after the US Supreme Court ruled in June that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a handgun in public / Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

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“I wish I were a gun, because the Constitution would protect me.”

That’s what I told my friend last Friday when we walked past the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) after it overturned Roe v. Wade and protesters demanding access to safe abortion for all were starting to show up to protest in droves.

It was a crazy statement, but my friend and I decided it made for good irony, a slogan on a bumper sticker perhaps. After all, guns and health care, especially abortion, have been hot-button issues for decades that make or break a politician’s election campaign.

And thanks to the other landmark decision that SCOTUS made that week, striking down New York’s strict gun control laws, the highest court in the land gave more authority to states to interfere in women’s health and less authority to govern guns in public spaces.

Then came this week’s decision, which found that it was OK for a school coach to hold public prayer when some of his students felt coerced into participating. And since religious freedom and lack thereof is now in the news, a story surfaced about a home repair business, Aurora Pro Services, that fired two employees who identified as atheist or agnostic for refusing to participate in the employees’ daily Christian prayer.

The three decisions complete the ideological triad of America’s energized Christian fundamentalists and the far right who, like one Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Kandiss Taylor, love to tout: Jesus, Guns, Babies — usually in that order.

And because America does not exist in a vacuum, everything unfolding here mirrors or affects what happens elsewhere in the world.

Yesterday’s piece by Ola Salem captures the rising misogyny and violence against women worldwide, with the U.S. now unfortunately leading the way to an inevitable erosion of women’s health around the world.

The piece I co-authored with Robin Blackburn takes a deep dive into the National Rifle Association-led initiatives that not only chip away at gun control but also relax the laws that prosecute those who fatally shoot someone, then claim self-defense under dubious circumstances.

Today it takes more training and discipline to learn how to drive a car than it does to own a gun. Cars require the purchase of insurance that can make it too expensive for you to keep driving if you so much as make a turn from the wrong lane and are issued a moving violation. Yet in too many places around the country, almost anyone can buy a gun in the time it takes for a traffic light to turn from red to green.

And here’s another analogy between cars and guns. When SUVs first became popular back in the mid-1990s, marketing campaigns pushed safety. Surely, the logic went, if heavier, higher-to-the-ground vehicles were becoming ubiquitous on the highway, giving them a safety advantage if they crash, then shouldn’t you own one too?

The NRA’s approach to guns appears to parallel this. If the laws allowed more people to walk around with guns and gave them more protection to stand their ground when they “felt” threatened, then shouldn’t you take your gun into public spaces too?

In “How ‘Stand Your Ground’ Erodes a Homicide Probe,” the shooter we focus on has no gun permit and no mandatory training in how to handle a gun or appropriately assess a threat. Like many shooting suspects who think of themselves as “the good guy,” he fatally shot his victim, then called 911 and claimed self-defense, citing a gun that did not exist that he claimed was in the victim’s possession. By all appearances and based on available information, his victim had been sitting in a car trying to pull up GPS coordinates on his phone in an area with bad cellphone reception. The case goes to pretrial next week in Caldwell County, Texas.

Gun trainers and enthusiasts will tell you that if you plan to own a gun, you’d better be committed to using it. If they trust you, they will also confidentially advise you that if you dispatch your firearm, you’d better aim to kill. This is not only because if you don’t, your now-very-mad opponent may kill you and then legitimately claim self-defense, but also because if you merely maim them, they will sue you for bodily injury, something a dead person cannot do. They will also be alive to tell their side of the story, potentially undermining your own self-defense claim in court.

So, does all of this sound like crazy talk? Yes. But that is what’s been happening in America.

From this week (June 27 – July 1, 2022)

Spiritualism Experienced Its Heyday in 20th-Century Egypt | Read More

Podcast: Turning Russian Oligarchs into London Aristocrats | Listen Here

The American War on Women | Read More

New Film Shows Lebanese Civil War From a Classroom | Read More

Engineering a Drought in Jordan | Read More

How ‘Stand Your Ground’ Erodes a Homicide Probe | Read More

Assad Remakes Syrian Faith to Suit the Regime’s Needs | Read More

Iraq Must Face Up to History of Slavery | Read More

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