On Tuesday, four high school students — ages 14, 16 and 17 — were fatally shot in Oxford, Mich., by a 15-year-old classmate firing a 9mm pistol with 15-round magazines.

Less than 24 hours later, a Supreme Court majority that seems on the verge of weakening the nation’s gun laws heard arguments in a case that could lead to tougher restrictions on abortion.

Please tell me: What can the words “pro-life” possibly mean when the same people who want to constrain abortion are eager to make it easier for Americans to obtain and carry deadly weapons?

How is it “pro-life” for a nation to accept school shootings as a routine part of our daily news feeds? Can it possibly be “pro-life” to pretend that because no law will ever end all such shootings, it’s not worth trying to pass anything that might at least make them less likely?

We take for granted a conservative ideology rooted not in intellectual consistency but in the politics of culture wars that hold abortion rights as an abomination but gun rights as inviolable. And we wonder why the shootings continue.

Let me stipulate: I know people opposed to abortion rights who are, in fact, consistently “pro-life.” They fight for tougher gun laws, oppose the death penalty and support far more help for poor women when they bring children into the world. Even if you disagree with them on abortion, you should bless them for their witness and their moral consistency.

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But this group is a small minority of the political movement trying to outlaw abortion. The conservatives on the Supreme Court — judging from oral arguments last month on a New York law restricting handguns and the arguments Wednesday on a Mississippi abortion ban — seem quite comfortable with being pro-gun and antiabortion. Against all the evidence from countries with stricter gun laws and far lower gun homicide rates, the pro-gun, antiabortion crowd insists that a massively armed citizenry protects life.

Yes, a few of the court’s conservatives expressed qualms during the November argument about guns at Yankee Stadium or in Times Square. But the core conservative commitment to a gunfight-at-the-O.K.-Corral approach to public safety was outlined with great clarity by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. lamented during oral arguments in a N.Y. gun control case on Nov. 1 that "hardworking, law abiding people" can't have guns. (Reuters)

“There are a lot of armed people on the streets of New York and in the subways late at night right now. Aren’t there?” Alito asked at oral argument. “All these people with illegal guns, they’re on the subway, they’re walking around the streets. But the ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people I mentioned, no, they can’t be armed.”

Have at it, everybody.

In her recent Opinions Essay on the dangers posed by a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, my Post colleague Ruth Marcus pointed out archly that justices who tout their devotion to a theory they call “originalism” were happy to ignore many decades of state laws, upheld by the courts, regulating weapons.

“The court’s originalists,” she wrote, “seemed not at all troubled by abundant historical evidence of states restricting guns in public places.”

The disconnect between warm, life-embracing rhetoric about abortion and indifference toward the loss of innocent life furthered by our nation’s uniquely permissive gun laws moved Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to call out this moral scandal on Tuesday night.

“I listened to my Republican colleagues come down here one after another today and talk about the sanctity of life at the very moment that moms and dads in Michigan were being told that their kids weren’t coming home because they were shot at school, due to a country that has accepted gun violence, due to Republicans’ fealty to the gun lobby,” Murphy declared on the Senate floor. “Do not lecture us about the sanctity, the importance of life when 100 people every single day are losing their lives to guns, when kids go to school fearful that they won’t return home because a classmate will turn a gun on them.”

Murphy’s point is amply justified by Republican blockades in the Senate against even modest gun laws, including bills on background checks passed by the House in March. But let’s not ignore Democrats who counsel caution on gun legislation for fear of losing further ground in rural areas.

The Michigan shootings are another reminder of the lethality of our political deadlock on guns — a powerlessness the Supreme Court majority seems eager to aggravate.

Here’s what we’re facing: conservative jurists ready to expand states’ rights when it comes to limiting or banning abortion but equally prepared to block states from enacting gun laws aimed at protecting the right of their people to live beyond their teenage years.