House GOP says Las Vegas massacre inspired them to crack down on reproductive rights

Instead of gun control, Republicans say the violence prompted a new effort to restrict abortions.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

In the aftermath of two recent acts of gun violence, the House GOP caucus has been inspired not to pursue gun control legislation that could prevent future mass shootings, but instead to crack down on reproductive rights.

“As we mourn the lives lost in Las Vegas this week, and welcome Whip Scalise back to Capitol Hill, we are reminded just how precious life is,” the GOP caucus writes in a blog post about new anti-abortion legislation approved by the House on Tuesday. “This message weighed heavily on the hearts of House Republicans as we spoke of the potential of life — especially lives cut short through abortion.”

The post goes on to discuss Republicans’ motivations for supporting the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protections Act, which, as CNN reports, “would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for instances where the life of the mother is at risk and in cases involving rape or incest.”

The bill was approved by a largely party-line 237-189 vote in the House on Tuesday night. Though it has a harder path forward in the Senate, President Donald Trump has pledged to sign it if the legislation makes it to his desk.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) was among the House Republicans who voted in favor of the national ban on Tuesday. Murphy, a staunchly anti-abortion lawmaker, voted in favor of the bill on the same day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he pressured his mistress to have an abortion earlier this year.

As ThinkProgress has previously detailed, it’s already arguably more difficult to obtain an abortion than it is to buy a gun in a number of places across the country. More states impose a waiting period on patients seeking an abortion than those that impose a waiting period on people seeking to buy guns.

Nonetheless, Republicans have mostly responded to the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history not by considering concrete policy solutions like tighter gun restrictions, but rather by offering “thoughts and prayers” and trying to pivot to other topics. A bill in the House that would ban a firearm modification the Las Vegas shooter used to make his weapons even more deadly doesn’t have a single Republican co-sponsor.

Comments Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) made during an MSNBC appearance on Wednesday morning are representative of this approach. Cole, who has reportedly received more than $20,000 from the National Rifle Association (NRA), made a case that gun control isn’t necessary because trucks can be just as deadly as assault rifles and people already own lots of firearms anyway.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was nearly killed when he was shot at a congressional baseball team practice in June, said during a Fox News interview on Tuesday that being a victim of a mass shooting actually “fortified” his stance that gun control legislation is a bad idea.

“First of all, you’ve got to recognize that when there’s a tragedy like this, the first thing we should be thinking about is praying for the people who were injured and doing whatever we can to help them, to help law enforcement,” Scalise, who reportedly has received nearly $19,000 from the NRA, said. “We shouldn’t first be thinking of promoting our political agenda. I think we see too much of that, where people say, ‘Oh ok, now you have to have gun control.’”

“When there was a shooter, luckily we had Capitol Police there with their own guns,” he added.

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