Many LGBTQ groups are calling for "more stringent checks to keep guns out of dangerous hands"
Some doubt when gun laws will move activists the way marriage equality or HIV/AIDS did
The National Rifle Association, often thought of as a powerful, unbeatable special interest group, may have finally met its match.
After the attack this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando – the deadliest modern mass shooting in the United States – dozens of LGBTQ groups joined with other organizations in calling for “more stringent checks to keep guns out of dangerous hands.”
These groups have quite a good track record: They’ve fought cohesively and successfully for the right for same-sex couples to marry and for more funding and support for HIV and AIDS research and treatment.
“There’s a sense that our community is one that people don’t want to mess with because we know how to organize politically and we don’t take no for an answer,” said Marc Solomon, a political strategist and former national campaign director of the group Freedom to Marry.
The fight for tighter gun control laws has been an uphill battle, as evidenced by the sit-in at the House and the vote in the Senate against measures intended to strengthen background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons.
Heather Thompson, an expert on the history of U.S. social movements, said she thinks it will make a difference if LGBTQ groups become galvanized on gun issues.
“It’s one of the country’s most successful social movements of the 20th century,” said Thompson, a professor at the University of Michigan.. “By deciding this is going to be their next political issue, an incredible amount of resources, not just financial but human capital, will be going into it.”
She said that for this reason, she thinks history will remember the Orlando shootings as a watershed event in the battle over gun rights.
“I think this is a new moment, and I don’t say that in a Pollyanna-ish way,” Thompson said.
’Armed queers don’t get bashed’
Gregory Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay conservative group, disagrees.
“I don’t know that this is going to be any grand watershed moment,” he said. “Rather than marriage equality being a case study in how to achieve the entire litany of progressive ends, it might well bear out in history to have been a one-off.”
He also pointed out that while members of the LGBTQ community unilaterally supported marriage equality and joined together to fight for it, the community has a wide variety of views on gun control.
For example, a group called the Pink Pistols states on its website that “everyone has the individual right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment.”