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Senate Gun Control Bill is ‘Denying Rights to Gays Act’?

Senate Gun Control Bill is ‘Denying Rights to Gays Act’?

A gay pro-gun group is claiming that Senate gun control legislation is anti-gay. Is it?

The Pink Pistols, which bills itself as “the largest organization in the world dedicated to the idea of lawful, armed self-defense of the sexual minority community,” issued a statement last month opining that a Senate bill aiming to tighten gun ownership and transfer laws is really the “Denying Rights to Gays Act.”

Reads the Pink Pistols statement:

Upon reading certain key phrases in the Senate’s bill S. 374, entitled in short the “Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013″, Pink Pistols National finds that this bill would function to deny members of the sexual-minority community their natural right to keep and bear arms in an unjust and unconstitutional fashion.

“The United States Government,” says First Speaker Gwendolyn S. Patton, “continues to deny married members of the GLBT community via the Defense of Marriage Act. Regardless of the fact that President Obama has instructed the Justice Department not to enforce DOMA directly, indirectly, this law will prevent GLBT persons from protections enjoyed by Federally-recognized spouses.”

Does it?  Well, it is true that the bill reflects discrimination already written into federal law, but in order to understand why, we need to take a look at some specifics in the bill.

The bill was originally introduced as SB 374 or the “Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013″ by Senator Chuck Schumer. That amendment bill struck out this week before it even reached the floor, but much of its language is incorporated in Senator Reid’s wider legislation, SB 649 or the Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and so remains relevant.

A controversial provision present in both SB 374 and now in SB 649 requires that if a licensed gun owner is going out of town and leaves their gun with someone else, say a friend, there is a seven day grace period. Should that term of care extend beyond seven days, the recipient must have had a federal background check or felony charges could apply — though there is some dispute as to what circumstances would provoke federal charges.

There are exemptions to this, and the exemptions are where our argument is to be found.

A ”gift” exemption means that “spouses,” parents and their children, siblings, and grandparents, could transfer firearms between each other without a background check. Yes, our old friend “spouse” shows its teeth again and here is where it gets tricky for married same-sex couples.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act bans the federal government from recognizing married same-sex couples as “spouses” even if the state in which they reside does recognize such marriages. As the bill currently relies on the existing federal definition of spouse, the legislation would appear to technically define same-sex couples out of such an easy transfer. But, again, the language in no way targets the gay community, it merely follows current law.

Pink Pistols almost immediately undercuts its incredibly disingenuous line of argument when in its statement it betrays its true aims:

“DOMA must go,” says Patton. “That is undeniable. It is not the business of the Federal government to be dictating who may and may not marry, much less what actually constitutes a marriage. But neither is this background-check law a good idea. It is little more than a scheme to convert law-abiding citizens into criminals for the purpose of confiscating their guns and destroying their rights. S.374 should be defeated soundly for the tyranny it represents.”

This shrill bleating seeks to opportunistically hijack support for marriage equality and gay rights as a whole with an anti-gun reform agenda that ignores all sensible debate.

This transparent attempt to stir up unwarranted attacks against the legislation is so lame it might provoke indifference, but certain conservative websites including Fox Nation are picking up on the story and so it becomes important, amid the continued frenzy of misinformation in this debate, to make clear that the bill does not in any way specifically aim to deny any rights to same-sex couples or gay individuals who carry firearms.

Efforts to pass meaningful, though watered-down, gun control legislation are floundering and, as of Thursday 18, President Obama along with Senate Democratic legislators have agreed to “pause” the effort and pull Reid’s wider bill. While some heavily compromised legislation could conceivably pass the Senate, the Republican-dominated House looks set to reject most any attempts at reform as a matter of procedural defiance.

The irony is, were the gun control legislation actually anti-gay, it might just stand a better chance in the House which has time and again proved its appetite for attacking LGBT rights.


Related Reading:

5 Things You Need To Know About Biden’s Gun Control Plan

Colorado is Winning at Gun Control

Gun Control Is Totally Racist Against Guns, Says Former NRA President

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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9:37AM PDT on May 6, 2013

Weird. I can see no anti-gay provisions in this law. Background checks would apply to everyone, gays aswell as straights. If I were proned to conspiracy theories I would think Fox where behind it all...

3:58PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

thanks for the article - seems crazy

7:58AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

Thanks Steve for the excellent article. As a member of the GLBTQ community I oppose the stance Pink Pistols takes and support comprehensive commonsense gun legislation. They are on the wrong side regarding this issue, in my opinion. Thanks also to David K. for posting the link to the petition.

3:19PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Sorry but I think "The Gays" are wrong this time and need to worry about something else.

3:18PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013


7:17PM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

The issue seems quite clear. Either the GLBT people are included in the "gift" clause (to spouses) of the right to own and/or carry a weapon or it is blatanly discriminatory. In Puerto Rico there have been a number of deaths and near deaths in the last few years due( in my opinion) to the escalating and inflammatory rethoric of the newer church groups, so I can see they need all the self defense they can get hold of.

6:40PM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

Is the above article an editorial? Is it an opinion column? It certainly isn't objective journalism.

12:54PM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

Mike C ........ I disagree with you on the picture ID matter .... have you never heard of ID theft ? Have you never heard of someone's wallet being stolen ? Or, again, the situation of people having the same name and one being mistakenly identified as being another? How can ID be truly verifiable if a photo is not included ? It has nothing to do with racism nor discrimination - to think so is, frankly, to be paranoïd.

12:15PM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

Please define ",shall not be infringed.". As to Photo ID's try to enter the Federal Elections Center in DC without one... And since when is a photo of oneself "racist"?

Y'all need to learn to read and get lives. Then ask how those gun free zone things are working out and why Chicago had more deaths last week than all the other tragedies combined.... They have the toughest gun laws...

9:25AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

This article is about gay rights, not gun rights and makes some very good points.

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