A few weeks after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, a group of queer folks met at Town Danceboutique as the first convening of D.C.’s Chapter of Gays Against Guns (GAG DC), an offshoot of the original GAG in New York. The anger, grief, and confusion that we felt after Pulse drove us to coordinate and combat gun violence in the LGBTQ community and beyond.
But how would we do this up against the control that the National Rifle Association and the rest of the gun lobby has had over our government? America’s gun fetish has gone unchecked for far too long. GAG DC believes in advocating for sensible gun policy reform, because we refuse to accept mass shootings as the new normal. We do not believe that the risk of mass shootings is just an unfortunate side effect of living in a free society, as some have stated. No other free society has a similar rate of homicides and suicides caused by guns as the United States.
Addressing our gun violence problem is about getting to the root causes of violence. Guns don’t shoot themselves. We as a society have to ask ourselves how violence has become normalized and glorified, and what that has come at the expense of. For example, why have things that don’t hurt anyone — like same sex couples getting married or trans people using the bathroom — been given so much attention, while the government shrugs at thousands of people being mowed down by guns every year?
We also need to address different types of violence differently. There are differences (and similarities) between what causes different mass shootings, like those that occurred at Pulse, Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, and elsewhere, and other types of preventable violence, such as street violence and hate crimes against trans women. In response to this need, Congress should end the pattern set forth by the 1996 Dickey Amendment and appropriate sufficient funds to the CDC to study gun violence as a public health issue.
Furthermore, there is no reason that semiautomatic weapons and other weapons made for warfare should be readily available. The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, but the Supreme Court has concluded that this right is not unlimited nor does it prohibit the regulation of firearms or similar devices.
We are here to name, shame, and blame the gun lobby, violence profiteers, and their GOP puppets on Capitol Hill. GAG DC leverages its proximity to the national political scene by taking theater tactics to the streets and sending out our message. Since we first met a year ago, we have made viral videos stemming from our performance as the seven Barbara Comstocks in the 17th Street High Heel Race; we’ve hosted an anti-inauguration ball at Cobalt; we’ve volunteered at several events in the LGBTQ community, including Capital Trans Pride; we ranked number 6 out of 384 submissions in a global art exhibit proposal competition through a 205-member jury selection process organized by apexart; we co-hosted a Pulse commemoration with Dicción Queer; and we participated in the DC Pride Parade, where we gave the middle finger to the gun lobby.
We have only begun to make our presence known to gun violence profiteers and fight back against their irrational gun obsession. To keep an eye out for our future action and learn more, or to join GAG DC’s fabulous plans for the coming year, find us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.