Gun control is something generally associated with the political left. So is support for transgender issues. In fact, most trans voters side with Democrats, much like how the vast majority of gun control supporters vote Democrat.
However, many Democrats’ support for gun control–something they believe will really only impact old, white men–is running slam up against a harsh reality.
Of course, as an old white man, they won’t take my word for it, but maybe they’ll take it from a transwoman who lives in the South.
It was the Pulse nightclub shooting for me. I spent hours glued to the news, shaking with anger and fear. That hate crime sent plenty of people in search of more restrictive gun laws, but it sent me and an awful lot of others in the opposite direction. Over the next few years, I started going to shooting ranges more. I took a two-day concealed carry class. Now, like millions of Americans, I’m a gun owner. Importantly, I’m part of what looks like a demographic shift in gun ownership in the US.
I’m a woman in the rural South, and I’m very visibly trans. I unintentionally find myself in the center of a culture war; the way people treat me, in cities or the countryside, has changed dramatically since Trump’s election in 2016. The stares are longer, the sneers more open. Before gender identity became so politicized in the past few years, I was a curiosity. Now, I’m a walking symbol of everything the far-right hates.
Through my activism and my art, I have found myself in the crosshairs of the local far-right. A local news outlet once ran a satanic-panic style story about one of my music videos, and the more overtly fascist groups have sent me pictures of my family alongside my license plate number and home address.
I have always supposed that my safety is something I need to guarantee for myself — that no one else was going to do it for me. Since the people who hate people like me are famously well-armed, I determined I would be as well.
Frankly, that’s something I can agree with. Hell, if anyone feels their life may be in danger, it would be wise to take steps to ensure their own personal protection.
However, the author also points out a few things that are worth remembering:
Frankly, I believe that Biden’s executive orders and proposed legislation will disproportionately affect marginalized groups, both in terms of enforcement and in terms of access to the tools of self-defense. Because the legislation does not understand the gun community, I also believe the proposed laws are a gift to the far-right’s recruitment efforts.
When people talk about “common sense gun laws,” it sure feels like they mean the opposite. Gun owners are very aware of the labyrinthine laws that surround the ownership and use of guns, how they vary state by state, and what will and won’t bring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) down on their heads. Many attempts to make laws more “common sense” end up making them even more confusing and contradictory — and can easily criminalize people who are trying to follow the law.Take the arm brace for example. An arm brace on a pistol allows you to shoot more accurately. In 2014, the ATF ruled that you could stabilize the brace against your shoulder, if you wanted, without the gun being considered a short-barreled rifle, which are more heavily regulated and taxed. Then in 2015, they changed their mind. The exact same legal firearm, owned by millions, would be legal if shot normally, but illegal if shot with the arm brace held against the shoulder — unless the gun owner paid a $200 tax and filed the right paperwork. In 2017, they reversed again. All this because of quibbles over the definition of a rifle, which isn’t legally concealable, whereas a pistol often is.
The arbitrary nature of gun control is, indeed, insane. However, many people simply don’t understand that there’s virtually no version of gun control that isn’t arbitrary.
Take the oft-used response to an assault weapon ban: Define an assault weapon.
Now, it’s not the most helpful debate tactic, but there is a valid point to it. Namely that since there’s no real definition to the term “assault weapon,” then how are you going to ban it? Instead, you ban a handful of features you think define assault weapons and hope for the best. That’s what happened in 1996 and guess what? Sales of AR-15s skyrocketed.
They didn’t really ban much of anything.
What happened was they set up a handful of arbitrarily defined features and gun makes simply made versions of the weapons that didn’t have them. Easy-peasy.
Oh, and who is going to get hit by gun control laws? It won’t be the rich white guys who have the means to comply with every new regulation. It’ll be poorer Americans, many of whom are, indeed, minorities of some kind. They’re the ones getting picked up for having guns without permits and such.
So yeah, while I suspect the author and I may disagree on a whole lot of stuff, on this we’re in complete agreement.
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