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Until recently, among the issues which formed the core of modern American conservatism, as articulated by Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and their ideoligical heirs, I found myself most at odds with my philosophical confrÃ¨res on the issue of guns. Here, it didn’t seem that freedom would work. I used to believe that the proliferation of guns fostered increased violence in our society.
But, then, I started listening to the various arguments for gun control. I found that those with whom I once agreed refrained from argument and indulged in innuendo, while writing off the argument that guns could be used for self-defense. Opponents of gun control made better arguments, noting increased crime rates in jurisdictions with the toughest gun control laws and demonstrating how law-abiding citizens used firearms for self-defense.
And while I do favor more limitations on gun ownership than do most of my fellow conservatives, I am no longer an advocate of gun control as I once was. In a recent piece on District of Columbia v. Heller, a case challenging the District’s strict gun control now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Dale Carpenter addresses some of the issues which caused me to reconsider my position. He makes the cases why gun control laws could make it more difficult for gay people to protect ourselves against hate violence.
A law professor at the University of Minnesota, Dale helped Gays & Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL–a gay libertarian group of which yours truly is a member) and Pink Pistols, “an international group . . . advocating gun ownership and training in the proper use of firearms by gay people.”
With nearly “one-third of anti-gay bias crimes [occurring] in the home,” the D.C. gun ban is particularly pernicioius as it “forbids the effective possession of firearms for self-protection.” Dale concludes:
. . . for many other gay people, especially the ones living on the margins of life in crime-prone or anti-gay areas, owning a gun is one important part of a comprehensive plan for protecting life and property.
Gun ownership might at the very least give [gay people] peace of mind. And widespread knowledge that many gays are packing might give their would-be attackers second thoughts Gun rights are gay rights.
Given the lower crime rates in states with concealed weapons laws and the persistence of hate crimes even in states with Hate Crime statutes on the books, I wonder if opposition to gun control may be a more effective means of stopping hate crimes that such statutes.
A topic for serious discussion. If Log Cabin had some guts, at their convention in April, it might offer a panel considering this very issue.
Whatever the case, Dale Carpenter makes a strong argument on why gun control is bad for gay people, so I suggest you read the whole thing.