Gays Against Guns: LGBTQ Activists Take a Stand Against Gun Violence

A group of LGBTQ activists are taking a stand against gun violence, with hundreds participating in direct actions against gun companies and their allies around the country.

Gays Against Guns (GAG) formed following the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando this past June, in which a gunman murdered 49 people at the popular gay bar. The activist collective has chapters in 9 cities and boasts more than 300 members in New York City. The group plans to target gun manufacturers including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co – the two largest in the United States – as well as the National Rifle Association.

The group’s Facebook page states: “Queer complacency is over. We call for a ban on assault weapons and sensible gun regulation. We will not let our 49 siblings’ death be in vain.”

The direct actions – slated to kick off Monday – are partly inspired by older activists in the group who participated in the Act Up gay rights campaign of the 1980s, which offered advocacy for people in the gay community affected by AIDS and broadcasted their plight. Act Up’s direct action approach is credited with successfully bringing AIDS into the public spotlight.

GAG seeks to not only elevate the discussion around gun violence and rail against the cynical lobbying of the NRA that persistently blocks meaningful gun laws, but to target companies and individuals with financial stakes in weapons manufacturing.

On Monday, activists staged a “die in” outside of BlackRock, an investment firm with large investments in Smith & Wesson.

Cathy Marino-Thomas – a campaigner for GAG – discussed the rationale for protesting BlackRock:

Here is a company whose CEO, Laurence Fink, prides himself on their socially conscious investment yet comes right out and tells clients that mass shootings worked to their financial advantage,” said campaigner Cathy Marino-Thomas. “They’re smart enough to acknowledge they profit from massacres but can’t find a way to unload those stocks? That’s amoral.

GAG also looks to call attention to firms that vie benefits to NRA members, including car rental companies and Visa.

The nascent organization may just be getting off the ground, but its moral vision and willingness to act are inspiring qualities. With more organizations representing a greater diversity of US citizens forming a loose coalition fighting for sensible gun laws, the tide may slowly turn in favor of sanity in a political arena dominated by Second Amendment extremists.

Making Sense of Dallas: Violence, Racism, and Guns

This week, three separate incidents have monopolized the headlines. Two separate police shootings of non-threatening black men in Louisiana and Minnesota brought activists out across the country, decrying the disproportionately violent and harsh treatment directed by police at people of color.

Then, last night in Dallas, at one of scores of marches against police brutality happening across the nation, at least one gunman ambushed police officers who were on scene to direct the march. The shooter killed five officers and injured 7 people, including both police and protestors. The primary gunman was killed by a bomb detonated remotely by the police, while another three suspects – with as of now unknown affiliation to the incident – remain in custody.

During the lengthy negotiations with police that led up to the detonation, the 25 year-old gunman identified as Micah Johnson expressed anger at the recent shootings, his frustration with the Black Lives Matter movement, and his desire to kill white officers in retaliation for recent events.

This week’s events – both delicate and difficult, dealing with some of the most heated debates of our times – have already stirred the pot, heightening tensions over guns and race during an already fraught political season.

The former House Representative Joe Walsh posted an ominous threat to Obama and Black Lives Matter activists, tweeting: “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

By murdering officers as they helped facilitate the expression of protesters’ first amendment rights, Johnson and whoever else was involved in the heinous shooting in Dallas deserve unequivocal condemnation, and any surviving participates in the attack should be prosecuted.

The victims in Dallas deserve justice. So, too, do Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, the men shot to death in Louisiana and Minnesota respectively.

But understanding the complexity of this issue is difficult for many Americans. Consider the pandering of public figures like Walsh, whose vicious tweet itself deserves condemnation. The former congressman has leant his voice to a false narrative – just as the New York Post did with its cover this morning – that there is an unsealable divide in our country that will necessarily result in violent conflict. His pandering is reckless and, yes, racist. What exactly is “real America?” Are people who are outraged over senseless police violence directed at black people somehow outside of that classification?

As for rhetorical excess, it is worth mentioning the dehumanization that anti-police jargon generates. While police forces as institutions are flawed and some officers possess prejudice, police departments are run by many well-meaning people from all backgrounds and ethnicities who have families and aspirations. “Fuck the police” may be a cathartic chant, but it is reductive.

While politicians work to fit this week’s events into their narratives, it’s worth acknowledging the objective horror and injustice of violence generally, and gun violence specifically. It’s possible to both adamantly oppose racist violence against black citizens, and to also wholeheartedly oppose the exercise of violence against police officers, many of whom have provided countless hours of civic service for communities across the country.

At the heart of all of this rests that specter of American violence – the gun. As yet another week yields more gun deaths, the United States government cannot bring itself to define the issue in terms of public health. By granting adequate resources to studying and weeding out violence in our communities, we can look at the variegated factors that contribute to this persistent menace, instead of pitting Americans against each other and ignoring institutional flaws that perpetuate injustice.

Dems. Take Over Senate Floor in Push for Gun Control

In breaking news, Democrats have taken control of the Senate floor in a filibuster-style move designed to push the chamber to do something about the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

You can watch the takeover live here.

Spearheaded by Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, this bold strategy emerges just days after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. At the Pulse nightclub – a popular gay bar in Orlando, Florida – a lone gunman killed 49 people using an AR-15. This particular assault rifle was also used in the Newtown shooting, which occurred in Senator Murphy’s home state in 2012, claiming the lives of 6 adults and 20 children.

Upon embarking on the floor takeover, Murphy remarked:

This is a different moment today than it was at the end of last week. There is a newfound imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action, to try to do our part to stem this epidemic of gun violence and in particular this epidemic of mass shootings. There is a fundamental disconnect with the American people when these tragedies continue to occur and we just move forward with business as usual. So I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful bipartisan way.

As we discussed on The Tap earlier this week, congress had an opportunity to prevent this week’s massacre last year when a measure to ban weapon sales to suspected terrorists went before the legislature. Republicans tied the measure to legislation designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a deliberate torpedoing of even this moderate, widely supported gun control measure.

Corey Booker, Senator from New Jersey, has also taken the floor today in support of Murphy’s filibuster. “What we’re seeking is not radical,” Booker said this afternoon, “What we’re seeking is not something that is partisan. What we’re seeking is common sense.”

The Tap will continue to provide coverage on the fallout following the anti-LGBTQ massacre in Orlando and the ongoing debate on gun violence that is sweeping the nation.

PricingPrivacy PolicyRefund Policy