Gun rights groups harm LGBT groups despite show of support

G. Elliott Morris

During Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) marathon Senate gun violence filibuster last week, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said “We don’t have to be heroes, we just have to not be bystanders.” A similar sentiment echoed across party lines the day before when C.J. Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas (OCT), offered an armed escort to Pink Pistols, an organization for LGBT Texans who have an interest in firearms. OCT seems as though it is now in the business of protecting the LGBT community.

Setting aside the obvious criticism that OCT is exclusively interested in protecting like-minded (gun-owning) members of the LGBT community, Texans should take additional issue with the organization's action. Primarily, OCT is not interested in pursuing legislation that is beneficial to and supported by the LGBT community.

Grisham has constantly spoken out about the need for Texas to further expand gun accessibility. During Texas’ 84th legislative session, in which campus carry and open carry passed, Grisham wrote that OCT would next pursue so-called “Constitutional Carry” legislation that would allow any Texan to carry a concealed handgun without any required license.

There is a lack of substantive research on the effects of “Constitutional Carry” — Congressional Republicans have refused to allow the Center for Disease Control to study causes of gun deaths. However, we do know that of the nine states with constitutional carry legislation implemented, eight have above average gun deaths per 100,000 citizens and three are in the top five. It is fair to suspect that constitutional carry would not decrease violence against members of marginalized, ostracized and otherwise attacked communities.

It doesn't seem reasonable to suggest that less LGBT Texans would die from hate crimes if hateful persons were legally allowed to carry a handgun around a nightclub or into an urban coffee shop.

It is also reasonable to extrapolate from the massacre in Orlando (among other tragedies) that assault weapons accessibility gives way to gun violence. More plausible still is the idea that loopholes allowing suspected terrorists to buy assault weapons online or at gun shows are dangerous and will continue to pose a threat to marginalized Americans. While the LGBT community agrees with just that, OCT does not.

On June 17th, the organization released a statement that categorically objected to an array of common sense gun legislation, including expanding universal background checks to gun shows, the aforementioned denying of suspected terrorists from buying firearms and closing the so-called “Charleston Loophole” that allows gun-seekers to purchase firearms if a background check is not completed in 72 hours. Although many LGBT Texans support these gun safety measures, their voices are ostensibly silenced from OCT.

Evidently, Open Carry Texas is categorically opposed to any legislation that could decrease firearm availability, even for terrorists, and even if the laws are backed by the very LGBT community that OCT offers protection.

Simply, and justifiably, LGBT Texans do not feel safer as a result of Open Carry Texas. They do not need heroes, but need people to not be bystanders, and they need organizations like Open Carry Texas to get out of their way.

Morris is a government junior from Port Aransas. Follow him on Twitter @gelliottmorris.