What I mean when I say I'm pro-gun; Or, an angry Queer comes to terms

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Image by SGN Staff
Image by SGN Staff

I think I started to accept violent crime as a fact of life in 2014, two years after Sandy Hook, when a man I considered a friend was set on fire in his car for being an outspoken, intelligent Black activist in the wrong — predominantly white — California city. Marc Thompson died in Chico, and the part of my brain that processes tragedy calcified into a thing that produces cold, calculated rage.

That part of my brain works overtime. Violence, especially gun violence, is constantly in the news, and all any of us can do is watch, grieve, seethe, rinse, repeat.

Since 2014, there have been 3,605 mass shootings in the United States. Every time it happens, the news cycle gets shorter, some politician makes an impassioned plea for gun control — and nothing happens.

This time around, the deaths of 19 children caused a furious Connecticut senator to beg his colleagues for compromise. Not gun control, not new laws. Compromise.

We're all so exhausted that his desperation is being mistaken for heroism.

We've all noticed that whenever a mass shooting makes national news — increasingly rare these days — the response is that it's not the time to be political, but a time to mourn and reflect. There's a simple reason that the Republicans don't respond to these tragedies and the Democrats do nothing but share thoughts and prayers.

They don't care about us more than they care about their bank accounts.

If they cared, we'd have had gun licensing, universal background checks, and stricter control on gun show loopholes after Columbine. Instead, even the strictest states, like my home state of California, have laws that barely come close to the restrictions governments across the world have placed on weapons.

A government that would sell out its own people to arms manufacturing lobbyists cannot be trusted, and we must be prepared to defend ourselves, if not from them, then from the fallout of their decisions.

We saw in 2020 that mass protests over police brutality and racial inequality did nothing but harm our buildings and damage our lungs. The cops were better armed and better protected than we were, and once calm returned, our politicians ensured that nothing changed.

We've seen the people we voted into power strip the rights of women and Trans people in the last year, and they're running full speed toward the death of our ecosystem for a few extra bucks from big oil. They don't care about our quality of life, and they're taking steps toward outlawing people like you, me, and our loved ones.

If your response to this is to trust that entity with taking away forms of self-defense that might function easily and reliably on a mass scale, i.e., a full ban on private ownership of guns, I believe you likely come from a place of privilege, where your rights are not under constant assault.

Armed Queers don't get bashed.

If our government cared about us, we would have the type of gun laws that slightly more sensible countries have. Look at Australia. In 1996, 35 died and 23 were wounded in a mass shooting, leading the conservative government there to put into effect laws that have decreased gun violence and homicide rates, despite private gun ownership being perfectly legal. These laws included mandatory 30-day cool-off periods after a purchase, different licenses and requirements for different categories of firearms, and mandatory firearms safety courses.

If these very basic measures had been put in place by the US after Columbine in 1998, this would be a very different essay. While I believe these steps are the right ones for the US to take as a whole, I no longer have faith in our government to enact or enforce similar laws without abusing its power.

It's hard to reconcile my mistrust of the powers that be with my hope for a better world. Believe me, it's just as depressing to have these opinions as it is to read them. So, I have an addendum to my earlier statement:

Armed Queers don't get bashed — but we all need stricter gun laws.

And that's only the first step.

I don't have to tell our readers that this is the only country in the world where mass shootings happen so regularly that the average American stops caring after a few days. Gov. Abbot said the Uvalde massacre "could've been worse." The worst mass shooting in his state's history, and his response is, "Meh."

There are proven ways to prevent this without violating our right to protect ourselves. In addition to following Australia's example when it comes to gun laws at the federal level, we — meaning you and me and our loved ones — need to start performing acts of mutual aid. Acts of trust that give back to the community and strengthen it from within.

If you can't trust your government, govern yourself. When they stop caring, we care harder.

If you want to stop senseless violence — like I know you do — you have to support programs that support the poor, the unhoused, and the underprivileged, and you have to speak out at every turn.

Act now. Speak up, but not just to your friends and family on social media so you feel like a good person. Call your congressmembers, sure, but working within your community and helping your neighbors is an immediate way to make everyone safer.

Stricter gun control stops the mass shootings. Organizing ourselves protects our kids, too.

I'll end with this divulgence: I don't own a gun.

I think it would be reckless for me, a person who loses their keys every morning and is prone to doomsday overthinking, to keep a gun in my apartment. I don't feel powerful at the shooting range, and honestly, I don't think they're sleek or sexy like some gun lovers do.

To me, a gun is a tool. I grew up with guns, I know how to use and maintain one, and I've decided it's a tool I don't have use for. But I do think it's important to recognize that in a country actively reversing decisions that protect our rights to bodily autonomy, we've got to hold on, at least in part, to what we do have. And the unfortunate truth is that we've got more than enough guns.