This fall, Californians will vote on a ballot proposition that would extend the state's gun control laws. The “Safety For All” campaign would not ban guns in California — far from it — but would ban large-capacity magazines, require background checks for anyone purchasing ammunition, and require California's reported 18 million gun owners to immediately notify police if their guns are lost or stolen. Launched last fall, this campaign is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's main political effort this year.
If measures like that were in effect in Florida, Omar Mateen may have had a harder time killing 49 people, as he did early Sunday morning at Pulse, a gay nightclub. But even before Mateen's massacre, LGBT people were front-and-center in this debate in California — as a reason not to extend gun control.
As you can see in the ad above, one of several paid for by the California Rifle and Pistol Association-sponsored Coalition for Civil Liberties, pro-gun groups are arguing that gun control makes LGBT people unsafe, because they will not have guns with which to defend themselves from hate crimes.
That's a specious argument even before a military-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine was used to murder a club full of LGBT people. But rather than back off on it, the pro-gun set is doubling down — and arguing further that LGBT people need guns.
[jump] Above is a campaign image used by the Coalition on Civil Liberties on Facebook. The image is of Nicki Stallard, leader of a pro-gun LGBT group called The Pink Pistols. Here's a documentary about Stallard, who has become one of the faces of the anti-gun control camp. Here again is the same argument: because LGBT people are frequent targets of hate crimes, they need guns to keep them safe.
There's truth there, of course. LGBT people ARE targets of hate crimes, and should be allowed to defend themselves. Of the 758 hate crimes documented in California in 2014 by the Attorney General, more than 25 percent were motivated by homophobia.
And in California, they are — and, if they are legally eligible, buy a pistol or other firearm and load it (though they could not have it in their purse, as in the video above, unless they received a concealed carry permit from their local sheriff).
However, all of those things would still be true even if Newsom's measure passed. The only extra prohibition would be barring the LGBT person — or any other person — from buying ammunition if they were convicted of a felony crime or a violent misdemeanor. You could still own a pistol, and you could still bring it along with you places if you proved to police your safety was threatened enough to justify a concealed-carry permit.
You can see what Newsom, well-liked in the LGBT community for his early adoption of gay marriage, thinks of it: it's gross.
But all of that happened before Orlando. Today, Republican operative Richard Grenell, the co-chair of the pro-gun campaign, released this statement, which reads in part:
It is devastating news for all Americans to hear, but especially for those of us in the LGBT community who know all too well that we are constant targets of hate and violence.
Today's horrific terrorist attack in Orlando shows that terrorism is rising in the U.S.
We have seen ISIS-inspired Islamists attack government workers in San Bernardino, and an Islamic radical kill gays and lesbians in Florida. We are all vulnerable. Who's next?
The LGBT community, women, minorities, other high risk groups, and all Americans should be allowed to access the protection they need to defend themselves and their families.
But Gavin Newsom's initiative proposal and other proposed gun control laws take away the rights of LGBT Americans, and all Americans, and depriving everyone of the choice to select a means of protecting themselves from attack.
SF Weekly reached out to the Coalition campaign and to the Rifle and Pistol Association to ask about how many hate crimes were prevented or stopped thanks to a firearm. We have not yet heard back, and there is no data readily available speaking to this.
Which is to say: a gun just killed a lot of gay people, which means gay people should carry guns. This is America.