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.”
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.
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