Rep. John Burt, a Republican who sits on the New Hampshire House Committee on Public Safety, had dismissive words for the Moms Demand Action volunteers who were insulted Tuesday by his peers’ decision to don pearls during a hearing on a gun safety measure.
“The anti-gun out-of-state lady and the other anti-gun folks need to get over themselves,” Burt told TPM in an email, referring to Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts. “This had nothing to do with them. It is to support the Women’s Defense League and the good they do to train women to protect their children.”
The Women’s Defense League, according to its Twitter page, is a group that “provides women opportunities to learn practical self-defense skills and defends Second Amendment rights.”
“Who does not want to protect their children?” Burt continued. “O ya, some anti-gun folks do not.”
Burt said that he was not wearing the pearls Tuesday because he forgot his, but that he’s “worn them in the past” and “would have had them on” had he remembered.
“They are to support the WDL. That is it,” he added. “The anti-gunners need to get over themselves. Sorry they were not the reason we had them on.”
Watts, who was present at the hearing, was told that the pearls symbolized either “pearl-clutching” or a callback to an old story about a fight between a gun-control activist and a pearl-wearing NRA member.
“Many of our volunteers were disgusted,” Watts told TPM on Tuesday. “Some of them are gun violence survivors who were giving testimony.”
Identifiable in pictures as wearing the pearls are Republican Reps. Daryl Abbas, Scott Wallace and David Welch. None of the three responded to requests for comment.
The stunt drew the ire of state Rep. Debra Altschiller (D), the sponsor of the legislation that was being discussed at the meeting. The bill would establish a process for emergency risk protection orders, known as “red flag laws,” that suspend gun rights if a person is deemed to be a risk.
Disappointed in the pearl clutching by @NHGOP. There are families who have lost loved ones here & this mocking prop shows how little they empathize with suicide. @MomsDemand @Everytown @ProgressNH @GiffordsCourage #ERPO #NHPolitics https://t.co/opkixiS1N6
— Debra Altschiller (@DebrasATeam) March 5, 2019
The episode also garnered attention from some 2020 Democratic contenders.
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
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