I didn’t think the National Rifle Association could get any more out of touch. I was so very wrong.
But let’s back up for a second. Apparently, there is a loophole in federal law that allows convicted stalkers and people who abuse their partners but don’t live together or have children together to buy guns. This is clearly something that has to be corrected since 3.4 million people are victims of stalking in the Unites States every year and domestic violence continues to be a top killer among women.
Luckily, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has introduced legislation that would make it harder for abusers of these types to get their hands on weapons. Yay! The NRA, predictably, has a problem with this. The legislation, known as S.1290, includes language that refers to “dating relationships” and people “similarly situated to a spouse,” which the NRA thinks is a little too gay. According to Think Progress:
Under S. 1290, for example, two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate “social relationship,” could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple “assault” arising from a single shoving match.
The e-mail also questions the need for including stalkers in federal restrictions, since stalking offenses “do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior.”
First thing, NRA, you’re a day late and a dollar short with the whole anti-gay tact. A majority of Americans are accepting of gay and lesbian relationships. Besides that, I don’t think you know what it means to be in an abusive relationship.
I imagine that when NRA-types think about an abusive relationship, they think of a big sweaty guy in a white, sleeveless shirt using his overwhelming power to beat his petite girlfriend/wife into submission. That’s certainly the prevailing image of an abusive relationship, but it’s not the only model. There is emotional manipulation, or the threat of violence may only be implicit, but very much there. Just because a relationship has two men who have roughly the same strength doesn’t mean that one does not regularly hurt the other. In fact, according to a 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control, 26 percent of gay men, 37 percent of bisexual men, 44 percent of lesbians, and 61 percent of bisexual women have been the victim of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Gay men and lesbians need these protections just as much as heterosexual women do.
And let’s get one thing straight right now. To say that stalking doesn’t “necessarily include violence or even threatening behavior” is to wilfully ignore what stalking is and why anti-stalking laws are important. Stalking is just following a person around (although that’s bad in and of itself). Some behaviors that typify stalking are: repeated and unwanted contact by the stalker to the victim; threats to the victim’s family or the victim him or herself; following or lying in wait for the victim; or basically any other behavior that is used to harass, track or threaten the victim. Stalking is threatening behavior.
People in same-sex relationships aren’t a different species. We know the dynamics of an abusive relationship. We know that stalking is used to harass and intimidate whoever the victim happens to be. It’s shameful that loopholes allowing stalkers and certain types of domestic abusers to buy guns have existed for so long. It’s even more shameful to use cultural misunderstandings to keep those loopholes in place.
Photo Credit: Charles Knowles via Flickr