March 10, 1993
Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider, was murdered by Michael Griffin, an anti-choice protestor associated with Rescue America, during a clinic protest.
The protesters scream, chant, and wave signs declaring, “David Gunn Kills Babies.” Griffin steps forward from a group of protesters, yells, “Don’t kill any more babies!” and fires three shots into Gunn’s back as he is exiting his car. Gunn dies during surgery at a nearby hospital.
Griffin informs police that he shot Gunn with a .38 revolver he is carrying, and surrenders to police officers without incident. Steve Powell, an employee at the office park which houses the clinic, later tells reporters that the Rescue America protesters seemed “just happy” after the shooting.
Gunn had just opened the clinic a month before, and commuted to work from his home in Eufaula, Alabama. Gunn’s is one of two clinics providing abortions in Pensacola; the city also houses three “abortion counseling” facilities, operated by anti-abortion groups whose objective is to convince women not to have abortions. Gunn has received threats for several years, but in recent months the threats have become more dire.
Recently, anti-abortion group Operation Rescue (OR—see 1986) featured Gunn in a “Wanted” poster (see 1995 and After) distributed in Montgomery, Alabama; the poster included Gunn’s photo, home phone number, and other identifying information. OR spokeswoman Margeaux Farrar says the organization knows nothing about the posters and did not print them. The Reverend Joseph Foreman, one of the group’s founders, says Gunn’s murder is just the beginning if the government continues to try to “silence” anti-abortion protesters. Foreman tells reporters, “I’ve been saying for years that if the government insists on suppressing normal and time-honored dissent through injunctions, it turns the field over to the rock-throwers, the bombers, and the assassins.”
Anyone who supports Operation Rescue supports domestic terrorists. Call them out. Anyone who supports clinic protesting supports harassment and violence. Call them out. Anti-choice violence needs to end.
Dr. Gunn’s commitment to reproductive healthcare will not be forgotten.
"Jane’s voice was almost monotone, her words slow. ‘Sue,’ she said, ‘they’ve shot and killed an abortion doctor in Florida. Dr. Gunn. He’s dead. Murdered.’
I felt my knees buckle, and I sank to the floor, holding the phone, cord stretched, my jaw angled up to the receiver. My mouth was open, but no words came out. I was slumped in that awkward position, shaking, my tears starting to flow when Dad walked in. He turned and looked down at me, startled.
'Shooting us, Dad. Abortion doctor. Gunned down. Dead. Oh no. No. No. No.'”
-Susan Wicklund, This Common Secret