Long's argument is not backed up by the data.
Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) said Wednesday that he believes he knows why mass shootings are so common in the United States: It's abortion rights.
In an interview on the program "Wake Up Columbia" broadcast on Fayette, Missouri, radio station KSSZ-FM first flagged by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century, Long, who is running for the Republican nomination for the open Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blount, was asked whether the recent mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school might spur lawmakers to introduce legislation to address gun violence.
Long, an auctioneer and former right-wing talk radio host who has been a U.S. representative since 2011, suggested that despite efforts by some to "blame an inanimate object" — namely the assault rifle used in the killing of 19 kids and two adults in Uvalde — he foresees no imminent gun legislation, and instead told listeners what he thinks is behind gun violence:
It's a systemic problem. When I was growing up in Springfield, you had one or two murders a year. Now we have two, three, four a week, in Springfield, Missouri. So something has happened to our society. And I go back to abortion, when we decided it was okay to murder kids in their mothers' wombs. Life has no value to a lot of these folks.
In a section called "Preserving the Second Amendment" on his campaign website, Long says: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. I am a proven supporter of your right to keep and bear arms and will fight gun-grabbing politicians from infringing on that right. As your Senator I will work tirelessly to defend your 2nd Amendment rights and I won't back down in protecting this fundamental right."
He also says: "I am 100 percent pro-life. I will support Supreme Court nominees who support ending abortions in the United States. I will continue to advocate for the rights of the unborn and will actively fight against legislation that allows taxpayer dollars to fund abortions."
Long's argument is not backed up by the data. In 1973, the year the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution guarantees the right to choose whether have an abortion before fetal viability, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics there were 19,640 homicides recorded in the United States.
While it has fluctuated somewhat in the intervening years, the annual number of homicides has never gotten much higher than that total. In 2020, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, there were about 21,500 homicides in the country.
But Long is not the first Republican politician to try to use a mass shooting as an argument for opposing legal abortion.
In 2018, after 10 people were killed at a Santa Fe, Texas, school in a mass shooting, the state's Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blamed both video games and abortion for the problem. “We have 50 million abortions," he said at a press conference. "We have families that are broken apart, no fathers at home. We have incredible heinous violence as a game, two hours a day in front of their eyes. And we stand here and we wonder why this happens to certain students."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.