The L.G.B.T. Case for Guns

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/opinion/the-lgbt-case-for-guns.html

San Jose, Calif. — I’LL never forget the first piece of safety advice I got when I began my transition from the male body in which I was born to the female body I now occupy: Carry a whistle. If I was attacked, I was supposed to blow it in hopes it would alert some do-gooder to dash into a dark alley to break up a brutal hate crime.

The idea was not only preposterous, it was also insulting. The implication was that I, being transgender, wouldn’t be able to save myself. But I didn’t need a whistle; I had a gun.

Since the attack in Orlando, Fla., many L.G.B.T. groups have been calling loudly for laws restricting gun ownership. But if anyone should be concerned about protecting the individual right to bear arms, it’s L.G.B.T. people. We need to stop preaching nonviolence and voting for politicians who don’t protect us.

Violence toward L.G.B.T. people is real. We are victimized at far greater rates than other minority groups. We often face multiple assailants. The attacks are frenzied and quickly escalate from harassment, to fists, to something altogether different. People die.

If you find yourself in a violent encounter, you’re lucky if you get three seconds to react. If you want to save yourself, you have to go on the offensive. And a whistle isn’t going to cut it.

I’m not the only one who thinks the L.G.B.T. movement is making a mistake by lining up behind gun control measures. In the days since Orlando, Facebook membership in my pro-gun L.G.B.T. group, Pink Pistols, has quadrupled, from around 1,500 to more than 6,500, and new chapters are starting across the country. Gun stores are reporting a spike in sales to L.G.B.T. buyers, and gun trainers are reaching out, offering free training or discounts.

These are people who understand that if you’re gay or transgender, you can’t simply hope that laws will protect you. They won’t. And you can’t rely on the police. Orlando is proof you could bleed to death in the time it takes for them to stop the shooter.

What happened in Orlando was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on L.G.B.T. people. While America at large debates what laws could have prevented this, what role Islam plays, and which political party is to blame, we need to get practical: If you don’t defend yourself, no one else will.

Most would agree — as do I — that violence is rarely the answer, and it’s never a first line of defense. But when my friends tell me they’d rather die than resort to violence, I tell them fine, I’ll light a candle at your vigil. It’s your choice. But those are the stakes. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

I used to have reservations about people carrying guns in bars. But 12 states allow concealed carry in bars, and I haven’t heard any reports of increased violence in those places. Now I can’t help wondering how many victims in Orlando might have been saved if a few people inside the nightclub had had concealed carry permits, and been able to fight back.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/opinion/the-lgbt-case-for-guns.html

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