Republican members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives are facing backlash for their decision to wear pearls during a hearing on gun control legislation sparking accusations that they were being sexist and using the “clutching their pearls” imagery to mock the testimony of mothers of gun violence victims.
The controversy erupted Tuesday afternoon during debate over a bill that would restrict access to firearms from people deemed to pose an “immediate risk to themselves or others.”
The measure, known as House Bill 687-FN, would allow authorities and family members to obtain court orders that would restrict access to guns for potentially dangerous people.
Photos shared to social media show several male Republican legislators wearing the necklaces as lawmakers weighed arguments on the bill.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 5, 2019
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action who shared photos of the hearing online, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that she felt the lawmakers “clearly did not come to this hearing with open minds or compassion for their constituents.”
“It really is shameful to behave that way when your constituents are being brave enough to share their stories,” she said.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) condemned the legislators over the demonstration.
“Moms who want to keep their kids safe from gun violence don’t deserve this,” Booker wrote in a tweet.
Moms who want to keep their kids safe from gun violence don’t deserve this. https://t.co/oQnQatlx4x
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) March 5, 2019
“These moms are fighting to confront gun violence and protect our children,” Harris tweeted. “They don’t deserve to be mocked.”
Too many guns are falling into the hands of dangerous people, threatening kids' lives and making our communities less safe. These moms are fighting to confront gun violence and protect our children. They don't deserve to be mocked. We stand with you, @momsdemand. https://t.co/qizaz7a8vi
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 5, 2019
State conservatives, however, say the lawmakers were supporting women’s rights to arm themselves for defense.
Kimberly Morin, president of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, said on Twitter, “The PEARLS are in support of the Women’s Defense League. Women who ACTUALLY PROMOTE GUN SAFETY and WOMEN’S RIGHTS.”