Rifle wielding right-to-lifers hell bent on violence. Sounds like an oxymoron. But as illustrated in a powerful new documentary, The Armor of Light, a directorial debut for Abigail Disney, guns and God can make strange bedfellows. This week at a luncheon at 21, the movie's key figures, an evangelical reverend and anti-abortion activist Rob Schenck, and a remarkable grieving mother turned anti-gun activist Lucy McBath, spoke on a panel, raising the film's issue: can you be both pro-gun and pro-life?
McBath, the spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action, considers herself an accidental activist fighting gun violence. Her son, Jordan Davis, was shot dead at a gas station, when the driver of another car found the music coming from his car too loud. The man, white, thought he would get off with this murder, claiming Stand your Ground. As McBath ruefully points out, the laws enable this killing of unarmed black teens.
The NRA looms large in the film, the rhetoric on self-defense shocking. McBath pointed out that people of color die because of the laws, and the economic boon to the gun industry. Disagreeing, Abigail Disney said it is the NRA telling the gun industry what it wants, a fact even more scary.
Dropping by at 21 for cocktails, Nancy Pelosi was on her way to protecting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Anti-abortion activists are threatening to shut down the government over this issue. Planned Parenthood is not about the right to abortion, she said, it is about family planning. I had 5 kids in 6 years, said the devout Catholic using herself as an example. No one should have the right to tell me or anyone else how to plan our families. And young women, who have taken their freedoms for granted, don't get how much they have to lose if Planned Parenthood goes under.
The documentary The Armor of Light is joined in the discourse about guns in America by another powerful film, Peace Officer, directed by Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber. "Dub" Lawrence, a Utah sheriff who brought SWAT teams to his police force, discovers that this seemingly practical approach to law enforcement actually brings undue military tactics to the job, resulting in outsized violent deaths in dramatic hails of gunfire. His own son-in-law died in one such incident, causing the extraordinarily affable Lawrence to conduct his own investigations into police sanctioned gun violence. Of course, no one wants to address a truth: guns in American homes, rather than protect, invite violence. The vicious cycle is nowhere near an end.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.