When a group of Republican lawmakers wore fake pearls in solidarity with a pro-gun women’s group, opponents ran with it. As the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on controversial gun seizure legislation, a number of male GOP committee members sported long strands of pearls. This sparked a quick pronouncement from Shannon Watts, the Indiana-based leader of Moms Demand Acton, who tweeted the action was meant to make a mockery of the gun control advocates at the hearing.
“Of the 13 person ERPO hearing committee, 10 of the lawmakers are men; half of them are wearing pearls to mock @MomsDemand volunteers,” said Watts, whose tweet was picked up and amplified by big-name Democrats on the national scene to include U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who backs a ban on many popular semiautomatic rifles, called the pearl-wearing “the lowest of the low.” Meanwhile, Emily’s List branded it a “cheap, sexist stereotype” in a tweet linking back to a recruitment site for pro-choice candidates.
However, as local media reports, the pearls are a long-time facet of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, a Granite State group that supports the Second Amendment and gun law reform. They distributed the necklaces to both legislators and supporters in advance of the hearing as a symbol of solidarity to the WDL’s position on the seizure bill.
The Leauge, with more than 2,500 followers on Facebook — more than the local state Moms Demand Action chapter — has long argued against the “red flag” bill debated this week. The group argues the state already has existing laws on the books that “allow Involuntary Admissions to get mental health treatment if it is believed a person may harm themselves or others,” and that the primary purpose of the proposed red flag law is gun confiscation.
As for the controversy, they say they gave out over 200 strands of pearls at the hearing and will have more at an upcoming rally this weekend — in addition to pink hats complete with an AR-15 silhouette.
WDL members wear pearls both at legislative hearings and in meetings with lawmakers. At a 2017 bill signing with Gov. Chris Sununu to bring constitutional carry to the state, pearls abounded.
The group argues that “gun control turns women into victims, while enabling criminals,” and it is one of the “most important women’s rights issues in modern history.”