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Imagine a world where it’s as hard to get a gun as it is an abortion

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In the wake of the devastating Las Vegas massacre, a post comparing gun laws to anti-abortion laws has gone viral on Twitter – and it’s alarmingly spot on.

Initially shared in this instance by Russian band Pussy Riot, the tweet features a quote of unknown origin (although the feminist protest-punk group has ascribed it to Gloria Steinem) and often pops up in the aftermath of violent, gun-related events in America.

Imagining a world where those seeking to buy a gun are forced to go through the same process as young women seeking an abortion, it begins powerfully: “I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion.”

The quote continues: “Think about it – a mandatory 48-hour waiting period, written permission from a parent or judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, travelling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protesters holding photos of loved ones killed by guns… protesters who call him a murderer.”

The quote, and versions of it, has appeared online for a few years.

Whatever the origins of the post, it has clearly touched a nerve with the general populace this time round: at the time of publication, it had been retweeted almost 2,000 times and ‘liked’ by over 3,500 people on social media.

And it’s not hard to see why: considering the online debate raging about gun control, and the fact that Donald Trump’s White House is at this very moment backing a bill that would criminalise abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, it couldn’t be more timely.


Read more: Trump administration backs abortion ban past 20 weeks


In the early hours of Monday 2 October, Stephen Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured a further 527 when he fired on a Las Vegas crowd of 22,000. Reportedly armed with as many as 23 weapons (including semi-automatic rifles), Paddock used one of the guns in his possession to commit suicide before police could apprehend him.

And yet, despite the immense scale of the attack (it has been declared the deadliest shooting in modern US history), Trump has avoided broaching the topic of gun control in his subsequent speeches. Instead, he offered his condolences and prayers in an apparently heartfelt and emotional speech.

“We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace,” said the POTUS. “And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.”

It is, perhaps, understandable why Trump has refused to comment on gun control at this time: his administration has said that now is a time for reflection and mourning, not policy – and Trump, of course, was famously pro-gun rights during his presidential campaign, even going so far as to accuse his opponent, Hillary Clinton, of subverting the Second Amendment with her promises of better gun control.


Read more: How it feels to be a woman in America right now


Since then, Trump has been incredibly vocal on the subject of gun rights: earlier this year, he spoke at a National Rifle Association (NRA) gathering, promising them his support while in office, saying that the ”assault” on the Second Amendment was over.

He also signed a bill revoking an Obama-era policy that placed mental illness checks on prospective gun buyers.

Addressing the current administration’s stance on gun control, Clinton insisted on Twitter that the Las Vegas massacre could have been far worse if the NRA’s demands for easier access to gun silencers was made a reality.

Urging the Republicans and Democrats to “put politics aside” and “work together to try and stop this from happening again”, on a Centre for American Progress podcast Clinton also said: “Until we change the political calculation for a lot of elected officials and get a much more vigorous campaign... we are still just going to be fighting rear-guard actions.”


Read more: Real-life handmaids protest anti-abortion bill in Ohio


Trump previously expressed support for a ban on assault weapons in the Nineties and early Noughties.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve.

Whether he will be persuaded to come back around to his initial way of thinking and address gun control laws remains to be seen. What has been made abundantly clear, however, is his stance on abortion: he is currently backing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is going to a Senate vote on Tuesday (3 October).

If successful, the new bill will allow abortion past 20 weeks only in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake.

And this isn’t the only example of Trump’s anti-abortion stance affecting his policies: just days after being sworn in as president, Donald Trump reinstated a global gag order that bans US-funded groups around the world from providing – or even talking to women about – safe abortions.

His administration, likewise, is currently doing its best to defund Planned Parenthood.

Gun laws in Nevada are relatively lax – residents don't need to have permits to buy and do not have to register rifles, shotguns and handguns, according to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. People only need permits in order to carry handguns, and machine gun silencers are legal if they're in compliance with federal regulations.

On the flipside, Nevada’s abortion laws are relatively strict. As of 1 April 2017:

  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • An abortion may be performed at 24 or more weeks post-fertilization (26 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period) only if the woman's life or health is endangered.
  • Girls younger than 18 must tell at least one of their parents before getting an abortion (although this law has never been enforced after a successful legal challenge).

Considering that the Las Vegas shooter legally purchased weapons in the last year and passed all the required background checks (according to two different gun shops in Nevada), perhaps it’s time that Trump stopped focusing on what women should be allowed to do with their own bodies and turn his attention to more important matters.

Images: Rex Features

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