As reported by Ema O’Connor of BuzzFeed News, some LGBT students at the University of Houston feel unsafe now that concealed carry of handguns by their licensed fellow citizens is legal. One student who wished to remain anonymous said, “Anyone you get into a philosophical argument with in class might have his hand on his gun while you’re talking. I already feel it affecting my education.”
The concerns of LGBT people aren’t paranoia. They are all too often the target of violent bigoted attacks here in America and around the world. The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an extreme example of something that often goes on outside of general awareness. Both perception and reality make it rational for people whose orientation or gender identity doesn’t fit with the majority’s pattern to believe themselves to face a unique danger.
The question, then, is what do we do about this. It would be easy for those of us in the gun community to suggest joining the Pink Pistols. That would be a good choice, but not everyone wants to be a gun owner, and not every gun owner wants to carry.
As gun owners, we may believe that we’re not responsible for the feelings of people we don’t know and have never interacted with, but we do have to recognize that many voters will make choices on the basis of those feelings. In a close election, the cause of gun rights can’t afford to throw away any group.
If we care about the protections of gun rights in U.S. law from local regulations all the way up to the Constitution, we have to win battle after battle in public opinion. This has to include standing up for groups that aren’t often thought of as groups on the side of gun rights. Gays Against Guns may spout the slogan, “NRA Stay Away”, but I can’t help wondering how many times the NRA or other gun-rights organizations would have to ask to march in a pride parade with LGBT gun owners or their allies before they would be accepted.
The fact that this sounds like fantasy is one of the problems that we have to overcome. Defenders of one right don’t have the luxury of letting attacks against other rights to pass without comment. If we expect people who don’t own guns to support the right that we exercise, we have to be perceived as supporting the rights of others—and we have to mean it.
As someone who teaches and cares about English, the attempts to use they as a singular pronoun are irritating, but I’ve never felt the need to shoot someone as a result. And while ignorant assertions can be frustrating to address, using a gun to silence such things would be the essence of the argumentum ad baculum fallacy. But gun owners are seen by enough in this country as someone who would employ violence against others who disagree or who live a different life means that we have work to do.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.