The "legislative violence" of gun control

(Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

While Everytown for Gun Safety is nominally a single-issue organization, it has a tendency to follow progressive orthodoxy in general; latching on to the leftist cause of the moment in order to build credibility and show solidarity with the broader Left. The problem for the gun control lobby is that they’re not progressive at all. They’re inherently regressive and repressive in their ideology. Everytown says that “police violence is gun violence“, for instance, without ever acknowledging that each and every one of the non-violent, possessory crimes they create out of our right to keep and bear arms is enforced by armed agents of local, state, and federal governments.

Now the anti-gun group is taking aim at Republican lawmakers, who they say are committing “legislative violence” against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals that can lead to acts of “gun violence”.

I’ll be honest with you; I have my own issues with some of the bills that are being introduced in red states, which in some cases seem just as authoritarian in their own way as the gun bans being pushed in places like Washington and Colorado. I don’t think a bill banning drag shows is going to tell someone to go shoot up a gay bar any more than listening to Judas Priest backwards is going to get you to murder your family pet, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that Everytown is right and these bills or laws will inspire some weirdo to commit violence against the LGBT community. We then have to talk about the fact that Everytown wants to make it as hard as possible for that lunatic or bigot’s intended victims to protect themselves from that violence? That, in fact, they want to give police the power to approve or deny them the right to keep and bear arms based on entirely subjective criteria?

We’ve seen just how ineffective the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation are at stopping violent attacks. We’ve seen how failures of the criminal justice system can allow individuals who were facing serious felony charges to instead walk free, only to go on to allegedly target the patrons of a popular LGBT bar. As the pro-2A, pro-LGBT group Operation Blazing Sword recently argued in support of an injunction against Oregon’s newly imposed magazine ban and “permit-to-purchase” mandate (along with the National African American Gun Association, Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association, and the D.C. Project), “LGBTQ people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBTQ people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault,” yet the mandates of Measure 114 would make it much more difficult for them to exercise their right to armed self-defense.

In 2017, The National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs (NCAVP) recorded reports of 52 hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ people, the highest number ever recorded by NCAVP.
This number represents an 86% increase in single incident reports from 2016. In 2017, there was the equivalent of one homicide of an LGBTQ person in the U.S. each week. “Of the total number of homicides in 2017, 71% (n=37) of the victims were people of color, 31 (60%) of the victims were Black, 4 (8%) were Latinx, 2 (4%)were Asian, and 1 (2%) was Native. Additionally, 12 (23%) of the victims were white and 2 victims’ racial and ethnic identity is unknown to NCAVP at this time.”
Oregon is not a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ community. Oregon“ranked at No. 8 for the most anti-LGBT hate crimes in the nation, showing that these hate crimes increased by more than a third since 1996.”
It is no wonder that some LGBTQ people are worried about being able to defend themselves with the passage of Measure 114.

The brief also provides a link to an NPR story about opposition to Measure 114 from some LGBT people in Oregon, who say giving police broad latitude to issue permits-to-purchase could result in progressives being iced out of their Second Amendment rights.

Activist Ross Eliot shares the desire for community defense and opposition to Measure 114. Rose and Eliot worry the law will disproportionately inhibit outspoken marginalized groups from purchasing guns, while doing little to prevent domestic terrorism. This is due to a confluence of factors, from the rise of 3D printed ‘ghost-guns’ to reports of ties by some Oregon law enforcement officials to right-wing groups like Patriot Prayer and the Oath Keepers.

“Given abuses widely documented among law enforcement, [Measure 114] would create an environment ripe for further corruption,” Eliot says. “Police could easily restrict permits to preferred individuals and deny others without oversight to determine if people from particular racial or ethnic groups, religious backgrounds, LGBTQ status or political affiliations were being screened out.”

Give authorities the discretion to decide who gets to exercise a fundamental right and some of them will inevitably end up abusing their power. It might be money that drives them or their own hostility towards one group or another, but abuses will take place, and it’s not an unreasonable concern for these activists to have.

I still struggle to define “legislative violence”, but if Everytown wants to apply that label to anti-LGBT legislation I think it more than applies to their own gun control bills, which not only trample over a fundamental right, but put members of vulnerable communities in an even more precarious position by making it difficult and legally dangerous to exercise their right to armed self-defense. Everytown can complain that these Republican bills will inspire violence, but there’s no doubt that their own anti-2A ideology only makes it harder for LGBT people to shoot back if some twisted individual tries to carry out an attack. If they want to complain about legislative violence, they should take a long, hard look in the mirror.