Following last week’s tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, tens of thousands of Americans have signed their names to a petition calling on the White House to “produce legislation that limits access to guns.” Some lifelong gun advocates have even begun to reconsider their stances and call for “common sense” gun safety policies.
Indeed, since gun regulations vary across states, some states currently impose harsher restrictions on getting a driver’s license, qualifying for food stamp assistance, accessing medical services, or even buying a pet than they do for purchasing a gun. In fact, as states passed dozens of new abortion restrictions over the past year, these are just five states where it’s significantly harder to get an abortion than a gun:
1) ARIZONA: When it comes to gun regulations and restrictions, Arizona is one of the most lenient states in the country. In fact, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg hired undercover agents last year to demonstrate just how easy it is to purchase firearms in Arizona without being subjected to a background check. But Arizona also passed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, requiring women seeking abortions to undergo a 24-hour waiting period, an in-person “counseling session,” and a mandatory ultrasound. The Arizona government also recently launched a misleading website dedicated to educating women about the dangerous decision to have an abortion, even though it is a safe medical procedure.
2) MISSOURI: After state lawmakers loosened regulations for purchasing firearms in 2007, there is no longer any waiting period for gun ownership in Missouri. There’s also no limit to the number of firearms that residents can purchase at one time, and gun owners don’t have to obtain a license or register their firearms. On the other hand, women seeking abortions in Missouri have several hurdles to overcome. Women are required to wait 24 hours before they can have an abortion, make an additional visit to the clinic to receive “in-person counseling,” and confirm that they have not been coerced into the procedure. And if Missouri lawmakers have their way, it could soon be more difficult for women to obtain affordable contraception than it is for them to obtain a gun.
3) MISSISSIPPI: There’s no license or permit required to purchase a firearm in Mississippi. The state also doesn’t require any kind of firearm safety training as a prerequisite to buying or carrying a gun, and does not require handguns to meet safety standards. But while lawmakers in Mississippi may not be particularly concerned about gun safety legislation, they are worried about women’s health clinics. After state legislators passed a restrictive regulation to hold abortion clinics to unnecessary standards — an indirect method of limiting women’s reproductive freedom by targeting abortion providers — the state’s clinics were forced to stop performing the medical procedure. There’s only one abortion clinic left in the entire state of Mississippi, and it may be forced to close in January.
4) TEXAS: Texas does not require a waiting period to buy guns, but it does impose a 24-hour waiting period on women who seek abortions. Texans also don’t need a license or registration for their firearm — but women who are looking for health services rather than a gun could be out of luck, since Texas legislators have been on a crusade to defund the women’s health organizations that provide abortion services. Preventing low-income women from having access to health services at clinics that also perform abortions isn’t enough for Texas Republicans, though — they also want to prevent doctors from even talking about abortion with their patients, although discussing guns would probably be considered fair game.
5) UTAH: Utah imposes one of the harshest restrictions on women who seek abortions, requiring them to wait a full 72 hours before undergoing the procedure. The same isn’t true for purchasing guns, since there’s no waiting period whatsoever for buying a firearm. Utah lawmakers may hope that women end up changing their mind about getting abortion if they’re required to wait several days and attend an in-person “counseling session,” but studies have shown that imposing those hurdles don’t actually impact women’s decisions. On the other hand, there’s evidence to suggest that imposing waiting periods for gun ownership can be an effective safeguard mechanism to provide enough time for background checks to go through, as well as allow for a “cooling off period” in the cases where an emotional altercation may have encouraged one of the participants to obtain a weapon.