Grace Carney, Staff Writer
On Friday, November 27 in Colorado Springs, suspect Robert Lewis Dear conducted a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in order to express his anti-abortion beliefs in a radical manner. Dear, 57, is responsible for the deaths of two civilians and one police officer, as well as the wounding of nine more. In addition to the rifle Dear used to murder his victims, authorities who have investigated the shooting found evidence of propane tanks in Dear’s car. The tanks were kept in the parking lot of the clinic during the shooting, suggesting Dear had been plotting to set off an explosion, hoping to create damage on an even larger scale.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider. The shooting occurred subsequent to a significant conflict involving Planned Parenthood, who was accused by anti-abortion groups of distastefully using fetal organs for research several months prior to the incident. It is clear, however, that Dear’s attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was a violent advance geared towards women who sought the right to receive an abortion and other health care services. Several anti-abortion groups have denied any knowledge of or association with Dear. Dear’s attack leads to questions regarding the broader, more pertinent issues of gun control and women’s rights.
A rural South Carolina native, Dear was charged for voyeurism in 2002 and animal cruelty in 2003. In 1997, his wife accused him of domestic violence, although no charges were pressed against him. Former neighbors of Dear report that they saw him acting strangely, such as living in a cabin in the woods with no electricity, or offering them unsolicited, random advice, but did not think he would become a homicidal killer. They also described him as incapable of speaking fluently and clearly, suggesting he had mental health problems. A witness who had visited the clinic for an ultrasound the day of the shooting says Dear showed no remorse after pulling the trigger and murdering several victims. As he was brought into custody, Dear mumbled “no more baby parts.”
The real question is, was Dear motivated purely by his own anti-abortion beliefs, or was his act of violence arbitrary and more so a result of his poor mental health? Dear is currently being held in a Colorado Springs prison without bail, while judges try to decipher whether or not he can be defined as a domestic terrorist.
In response to the heinous act, President Obama has offered condolences for families of the victims of the shooting, and used the attack as another example of gun violence. Vice President Biden has also noted how this shooting is evidence of why we need stronger gun violence prevention legislation. Biden explains how new legislation would prohibit individuals who are not mentally stable from having easy access to fatal weapons. Such regulations would also decrease the rate of malevolent felonies, deaths of innocents, and thereby reduce the heartache of the families and friends of victims of gun violence.