Our Opinion: Guns, abortion politics, are a uniquely American story


America's latest mass shooting again raises the familiar issue of too easy access to weapons, and returns the spotlight to the possible consequences of political hysteria over women's health clinics.

Robert L. Dear Jr., who is accused of killing three people, including a Massachusetts native, Friday at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center, fits the traditional angry loner profile. His long history of violence should have precluded him from getting guns but US gun laws are riddled with loopholes and make it easy.

President Obama again advocated tougher gun laws Saturday as he does after every periodic gun-related mass murder. Sadly, this incident is likely to fade into history soon enough, like its predecessors.

This is not the first time, of course, that Planned Parenthood or another abortion clinic has been shot up with a loss of innocent lives. CNN has reported that Mr. Dear made a reference to "no more body parts" to investigators and also expressed anti-abortion and anti-government views to them. If this was indeed Mr. Dear's motivation for the deadly assault he will be the latest "pro-lifer" to take lives in the name of his cause.

Friday's assault comes in the context of overwrought Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood and attempts in Congress to deprive the organization, which provides cancer-screenings and other health services to women, of federal funding. The attacks were triggered by secret videos made of Planned Parenthood doctors that were edited before their release and were said to prove that fetal parts were sold for a profit by the organization, which is not the case. The organization seeks to collect operating expenses in selling fetal tissue that is instrumental in the research for treatment of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates have piled on Planned Parenthood with misleading information to appeal to right-wing primary voters, but no one has behaved more shamefully than Carly Fiorina. Ms. Fiorina claimed to have seen a video of "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." No one else has seen this video or made the claim that it actually exists, and when called on the accuracy of her story, Ms. Fiorini criticized the "left-wing media" for challenging her.

When asked if anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric could possibly have precipitated Friday's attack, Ms. Fiorina again ducked the question, dismissing such concerns as a "left-wing tactic." Republicans will be understandably defensive about the possible repercussions of their politically motivated anti-Planned Parenthood hysteria, but the media should absolutely call them on it. Republicans should also answer to their refusal to support any serious legislative action addressing our uniquely American gun sickness.


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