We Must Protect LGBTQ+ Communities from Gun Violence
As attacks against the queer community rise, our leaders must act to curb hate-motivated gun violence.
I am a proud queer, non-binary person. Celebrating my identity shouldn’t scare me, but it does.
In November 2022, a gunman stormed into an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five and injuring 25 more. This attack took place two months before I turned 21. When my friends suggested we celebrate my birthday at Rain, a similar queer nightclub in my college town, I hesitated.
Maybe it could happen to us too.
There have already been more than 356 hate-motivated incidents against LGBTQ+ people within the past year, according to a June 2023 report from GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League. And, due to underreporting, the actual number is likely significantly higher.
Easy access to guns often emboldens hateful extremists and offers them a lethal outlet.
More than 28 hate crimes involving a firearm occur daily in the US. Racially motivated hate crimes are the most common and most significantly affect Black Americans. Perpetrators also aim many attacks at religious and queer communities. One in five hate crimes targets LGBTQ+ individuals.
In June, cities and towns across the country commemorated Pride Month with parades, marches, and rainbow-themed merch. But celebrating the LGBTQ+ community also requires protecting the people in it from this increasing threat—and ensuring that everyone can express their identity without fear of gun violence. Stronger gun safety measures offer queer people a greater opportunity to thrive, and we must prioritize laws that will keep guns away from violent extremists.
The gun safety movement is on the march: Americans from different background are united in standing up for safer schools and communities. Join us to make your voice heard and power our next wave of victories.GET INVOLVED
The Queer Community Is Under Attack Every Month of the Year
While the LGBTQ+ community receives a welcome spotlight in June, the fight for equality continues year-round—as do the risks. In America, LGBTQ+ people are nearly three times more likely as straight, cisgender people to be victims of violent crime. Three out of four trans people who are murdered are killed with guns. Because guns are the weapon of choice in violence against LGBTQ+ people, increasing rates of hate are even more lethal.
I see myself in these statistics and fear for my future as a gender non-conforming person in this country.
As we celebrate our pride the loudest, hate crimes reach their highest levels. June 2022—Pride Month—saw one of the highest number of reported anti-LGBTQ+ hate incidents in the GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League study, and 2023 is sure to be no different.
GET THE FACTS
Gun violence is a complex problem, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we must act. Our reports bring you the latest cutting-edge research and analysis about strategies to end our country’s gun violence crisis at every level.Learn More
Stronger Gun Laws Will Save LGBTQ+ Lives
America experiences more than one mass shooting each day on average, many of these motivated by hate against marginalized communities. The second-deadliest mass shooting in modern history targeted the LGBTQ+ community at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman stole 49 lives, injuring 53 more.
“Hate Crimes,” Crime Data Explorer, Federal Bureau of Investigation, last accessed May 10, 2023, https://cde.ucr.cjis.gov/LATEST/webapp/#/pages/explorer/crime/hate-crime.
Federal law allows some people convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime offense to purchase a firearm, leaving the door open for hate-motivated gun violence. But there’s a simple solution on the books—“Disarm Hate” laws, which already exist in states like Florida, California, and New York.
Passing the federal Disarm Hate Act, most recently introduced in 2021, would codify protections for LGBTQ+ people and help save lives. But, there’s so much more we can do to safeguard marginalized communities, including enacting policies like:
- Universal background checks
- Assault weapon and large-capacity magazine restrictions
- Open and concealed carry requirements
- Extreme risk protection order laws
Hate Shapes How LGBTQ+ Youth See the World
Each day I wake up in Texas, I navigate a culture of hate and harassment, where minors cannot access gender-affirming care and school libraries lack anything ultra-conservative politicians label “queer literature.”
Firearms are the most lethal method of suicide, accounting for half of all suicide deaths and only five percent of attempts. If queer teens are already struggling with suicidal thoughts, adding easy access to guns to the mix makes for an incredibly dangerous combination.
We can protect the LGBTQ+ community from gun suicide by enacting mandatory waiting periods, which require a period of time between when first-time buyers can legally purchase a firearm and then possess it. We can also require gun owners to safely store their firearms, which has the potential to prevent youth suicide.
By now many businesses have taken down their pride flags and merchandise. But just because America moves on from Pride Month doesn’t mean we can leave the LGBTQ+ community behind when it comes to safety.
When I return to campus this fall, I want to visit Rain without fear. I want to get gas without the possibility of being shot. I want to feel safe just being myself in my community. Congress must act to protect American citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We deserve to celebrate without fear during Pride Month—and every other month after that.
If you or a loved one are contemplating suicide, please call the free and confidential free and confidential national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or access help through their website at 988lifeline.org.
POLICIES TO DISARM HATE
Hate crimes are on the rise, and guns make it far too easy for a bias-motivated attack to turn deadly. Yet our gun laws suffer from major limitations that allow too many people convicted of hate crimes to obtain firearms. Our report, How America’s Gun Laws Fuel Armed Hate, examines how we can better protect communities from armed extremists.Read More