Murder of David Gunn

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Michael Griffin mug shot.

On March 10, 1993, Michael Frederick Griffin murdered Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida in the United States. This was the first documented murder of an OB-GYN where the murderer's stated intention was to prevent a doctor from performing abortions.[1]

Griffin (at the time 31 years old) waited outside Gunn's clinic and shot him three times in the back. He is reported to have yelled "Don't kill any more babies", just before the shooting.[2] Griffin did not attempt to hide his commission of the murder, telling police, "We need an ambulance."

A jury deliberated three hours before finding him guilty on March 4, 1994. He was sentenced to life in prison, which he is serving at Okaloosa Correctional Institution in Crestview, Florida.[3] The murder was one of the motivating factors in the creation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.[4] Gunn's death also prompted Paul Jennings Hill to issue the First Defensive Action Statement,[5] signed by 30 anti-abortion leaders, which justifies the killing of doctors who perform abortions.

Association with John Burt[edit]

During his trial, Griffin's lead defense attorney, Robert Kerrigan, argued that John Burt "brainwashed" Griffin and drove him to commit murder.[6] At the time, Burt was the Northwest Florida regional director of the national pro-life group Rescue America.[6]

Burt was a retired U.S. Marine and former member of the Ku Klux Klan (though he claims to have "abandoned the group's racist doctrine when he became a born-again Christian[6]") and a self-professed "spiritual adviser" to a group of activists who bombed three abortion clinics in 1984.[6] He ran a "safe-house" for pregnant teenagers who had decided to take their pregnancies to term, called "Our Father's House".

In 2005, Burt was convicted of five counts of lewd or lascivious conduct for improperly touching and propositioning a 15-year-old girl at the house, and sentenced to 18 years in state prison.[7]

Cultural references[edit]

In 1994, Gunn's murder inspired the first official single "Get Your Gunn" by alternative metal band Marilyn Manson. The lead singer, Marilyn Manson, explained in a 1999 Rolling Stone op-ed piece on the Columbine High School Massacre, that to him, Gunn's murder by "pro-life" activists was the ultimate hypocrisy he had witnessed as a young adult.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kushner, Harvey (2003). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: SAGE Publications. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-7619-2408-1. In 1993... Griffin became the first activist to murder an abortion provider, ushering in a new level of terrorism in the abortion wars. 
  2. ^ William Booth (March 11, 1993). "Doctor Killed During Abortion Protest". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  3. ^ Florida DoC Details,; accessed November 6, 2014.
  4. ^ "Griffin trial first test of access laws", Palm Beach Post, October 3, 1994.
  5. ^ First Defensive Action Statement,; accessed November 6, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Larry Rohter (March 5, 1994). "Towering Over the Abortion Foe's Trial: His Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  7. ^ Bill Kaczor (May 13, 2004). "Florida anti-abortion activist gets 18 years for molesting teen". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  8. ^ Marilyn Manson (1999-05-28). "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?". Rolling Stone (op-ed essay). Wenner Media LLC (815).