Gay Rights and Gun Rights

Writing in the New York Daily News, Akhil Reed Amar, who teaches constitutional law at Yale, argues that “gun lovers should invoke a landmark gay-rights case where the court’s liberals won out,” namely Lawrence vs. Texas. Writing at the Reason magazine blog, Damon W. Root comments on Amar’s column and points to the relevance of a Cato Institute amicus brief filed in Lawrence that states: “America’s founding generation established our government to protect rather than invade fundamental liberties, including personal security, the sanctity of the home, and interpersonal relations.”

Root adds that Lawrence and the Supreme Court’s ruling supporting gun ownership in District of Columbia v. Heller “each represent a major victory for the libertarian approach, with individual liberty triumphing over intrusive government in both cases.”

More. “Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds blogs: “Over the years I’ve often said that in my ideal world, happily married gay couples would have closets full of assault weapons.” The first part hasn’t gone over so well with social conservatives.

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20 Comments for “Gay Rights and Gun Rights”

  1. posted by Doug on

    No one that I know is trying to take away your right to own a gun. The second amendment does say something about ‘well regulated’ and even Scalia has said that Congress can make reasonable regulations.

  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Writing in the New York Daily News, Akhil Reed Amar, who teaches constitutional law at Yale, argues that “gun lovers should invoke a landmark gay-rights case where the court’s liberals won out,” namely Lawrence vs. Texas.

    I wonder if pro-equality conservatives could turn the argument, using the “happiness is a warm gun” logic to convince social conservatives that the rights of gays and lesbians is as important as the right to own a sniper rifle capable of blowing an infidel’s head off at a mile and a half. If we could convince them that our relationships with our life partners are as close and loving as the relationship of social conservatives with their assault weapons, “equal means equal” might get some traction in the Republican Party.

  3. posted by Jorge on

    I read that article, and it was true to its word in having two fascinating arguments that I could find no fault with.

    Amar also wrote that people who want gun control should use the Supreme Court’s landmark 2nd Amendment ruling to support their goal of passing more gun regulations, secure both on the legal merits (as Doug said) and on the political reality that with the Supreme Court decision in place, there is no longer a slippery slope that may lead to guns being banned.

    I hope the slippery slope argument against gay rights gets destroyed, too.

  4. posted by Houndentenor on

    Why does it seem so impossible to have a reasonable discussion in this country these days about any topic. Yes, there are some on the fringe who would ban all weapons. Not only does that idea not have enough support to get out of committee much less pass through Congress, it’s also impossible. There are over 300 million guns in this country. No one is going to confiscate all of them. It’s not even worth discussing as an idea since it’s just not doable. What the vast majority of people mean by gun control is eliminating weapons and ammunition that were designed only to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible. No one needs those to defend their home or to hunt. There are a lot of options and a law could be negotiated that doesn’t intrude on anyone’s right to have weapons that protect their own safety while reducing the risk of school children being gunned down with legal weapons. The arguments being thrown about are ridiculous and extreme and I’m sick of it. We aren’t going to do anything about it and we can’t even have a rational discussion on this topic and in a month or two there will be another mass shooting (there have been 20 in the last 2 years) and we’ll go through this all over again. Reasonable people should be able to pass reasonable laws and have reasonable discussions. Unfortunately our political parties and our media love catering to the far extremes on every issue and the result is paralysis on important issues. We just saw it with the so-called “fiscal cliff”. Unless we can put rational people in charge and allow rational people to head up the discussions we are f***ed as a country.

  5. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The arguments of the gun lobby are identical in kind with the arguments of the anti-gay lobby. Both hold that there can be no middle ground.

    The gun lobby argues that any restrictions on gun ownership, however reasonable, will lead, inevitably and inexorably, to a total ban on gun ownership. The anti-gay lobby argues that marriage equality, however reasonable that may seem to the majority of Americans, will lead, inevitably and inexorably, to a total breakdown of the family, and, in the words of Pope Benedict, destruction of the “essence of the human creature”.

    It is all nonsense. None of it is rational. But it is what it is.

    In each case, we are dealing with fear and fear-mongering, and with a powerful, institutional, well-funded lobbying effort that is highly profitable to those involved, both the gun lobby and the anti-gay lobby.

    The gun lobby is funded by the firearms industry, which depends on the sale of high-profit assault weapons for a substantial chunk of its income. The anti-gay lobby is funded by conservative churches, which depend on their opposition to “equal means equal”, among other things, to keep the faithful tied to the collection plates and tithes.

    And, in each case, we are dealing with a highly motivated political operation that has influence on politicians far greater than rationality would dictate. In most areas of the country, it is almost impossible for a Republican candidate for statewide or national office to survive the Republican primary process without an “A” rating from the NRA and the support of the anti-gay lobby. In “swing” districts, the NRA and the anti-gay lobby can (and often do) tip the balance against Democrats in general elections. Both sides of the political aisle live with that reality.

    There is one big difference, though, between the gun lobby and the anti-gay lobby.

    The anti-gay lobby is losing its influence, slowly but surely, as Americans come to know more about the lives of their gay and lesbian family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. We’ve broken the political back of the anti-gay lobby in a number of states, and we are doing so across the country.

    That has not happened with respect to the gun lobby. But I think that it is possible to make it happen. In the aftermath of the latest mass killing, I heard a friend quip that “What we need is to get Mothers Against Drunk Driving” involved.” I think that there is more truth to that than you might think at first glance.

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving argued, rationally and in simple terms, for reasonable OWI/DWI laws. The liquor lobby (in Wisconsin, the beer industry and the tavern owners lobby), who had been keeping penalties for OWI/DWI so minimal as to have no impact on behavior, slowly but surely won the argument, one mom at a time, just as we are doing on the side of equality.

    We can do that with guns. It won’t happen overnight, but we can change the culture.

    I am a gun owner and talk with other gun owners. A lot of us think that the NRA is full of shit. Almost all of us think that the idea of hunting with assault weapons is just plain nuts. Most of us want reasonable restrictions on cop-killing and kid-killing weaponry, and there is no reason why the restrictions cannot differentiate between the interests of urban and rural citizens.. National polls, including polls of NRA members, indicate that we are not alone in our thinking.

    A rational discussion is possible. But it will take something like Mothers Against Drunk Driving to make it happen. Right now the discussion is dominated by the fringes. We need to get the middle involved.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      This sentence needs to be clarified: “ The liquor lobby (in Wisconsin, the beer industry and the tavern owners lobby), who had been keeping penalties for OWI/DWI so minimal as to have no impact on behavior, slowly but surely won the argument, one mom at a time, just as we are doing on the side of equality.

      Here’s the clarification: “The liquor lobby (in Wisconsin, the beer industry and the tavern owners lobby), who had been keeping penalties for OWI/DWI so minimal as to have no impact on behavior. Mothers Against Drunk Driving slowly but surely won the argument, one mom at a time, just as we are doing on the side of equality.

  6. posted by Jorge on

    Why does it seem so impossible to have a reasonable discussion in this country these days about any topic.

    The arguments being thrown about are ridiculous and extreme and I’m sick of it.

    I think when you adopt an attitude that what someone else has to say is worthless, you lose your ability to have any influence on him. When you have sabotaged your ability to reason, the only option you have left is to fight. It is also the only option you have given to your opposition.

    Reasonable people should be able to pass reasonable laws and have reasonable discussions.

    We should. But:

    1) Like you said, it is difficult to have a reasonable discussion in this country on just about any topic.

    2) Given that, I have a limited set of issues that command my attention to the point that I will engage in rational discourse and advocacy in spite of difficult people who are inclined to automatically dismiss what I have to say out of partisan narrow-mindedness. Gun rights and gun control is not one of them.

    Go have your fun, Houndentenor. I’m just going to vote. I don’t even think I’m going to open my checkbook for this one. I already wrote my letter to the government. It is enough.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Those comments weren’t specifically directed toward SM. He hardly represents the extremism that I am encountering on both ends of the gun control topic. But it is frustrating when on topic after topic the media present the two extremes, let them yell at each other and then act as if this is the best that we can do. It might be good for ratings, but it’s a disaster for our country. I am also not naive enough to think that I can reason with people on the fringe. I encounter too many people who are adamant that the world is 6,000 years old, evolution is “just a theory” and that global warming is a conspiracy to allow the UN to take over the world government. I wish I were exaggerating. There’s no point in debating such people. But on issues where the vast majority of people are not on the extremes, it is frustrating to only see the extremes represented in any public debate.

      • posted by Jorge on

        Those comments weren’t specifically directed toward SM. He hardly represents the extremism that I am encountering on both ends of the gun control topic.

        Yes, I know.

        But he is an extremist on other matters. Most of us are. I suppose since I mention that I probably shouldn’t talk.

        But it is frustrating when on topic after topic the media present the two extremes, let them yell at each other and then act as if this is the best that we can do.

        True.

        I am also not naive enough to think that I can reason with people on the fringe. I encounter too many people who are adamant that the world is 6,000 years old, evolution is “just a theory” and that global warming is a conspiracy to allow the UN to take over the world government. . . . There’s no point in debating such people.

        Hmm…

        We used to see on this site every few weeks news about John Corvino’s public debates with Focus on the Family and other gay marriage opponents. And while he wrote on that his main motivation was to reach out to everyone else, he did like to think he was having some impact on his opponent.

        Most political “debates” are emotional rather than intellectual discussions. Even there there is a small chance a real discussion will reach a deadlock instead of a circular firing squad. It’s usually not worth the time to talk to people who are probably going to insist on trying to break that deadlock.

        Usually. But that’s a measure of personality, not ideology.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          I would never discourage anyone from attempting to have a rational discussion on any topic. I posted while I was home for Christmas during which time I was often surrounded by hard core right wingers who think snopes.com is a liberal propaganda tool funded by George Soros. I wish I had made that up, but it’s true. Sometimes you have to choose your battles. On the other hand, I turned a right-winger that I used to debate regularly online for about a year. Okay it wasn’t me so much because eventually it would have happened but forcing her to defend some rather ridiculous religious, pseudo-scientific and cultural beliefs and attitudes helped her look for more fact-based rational answers. So it can happen.

      • posted by Jorge on

        Here, let me give you another example.

        I recently posted on an online thread that I think it is probably a good thing the Violence Against Women Act wasn’t renewed. My reasoning is that VAWA is essentially federal aid toward a specific goal that, having achieved progress has now become a permanant item on the federal budget in the name of that success, when it probably makes just as much sense to say that program (alongside many similar programs) has met its goals, and let states and localities consolidate their gains.

        I’m sure you can imagine it is all but impossible to have a rational conversation on this, but you don’t seriously imagine most of the people who will refuse to have such a discussion are extremists, do you?

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          I think you can see the mine-field ahead of you. I’m not sure exactly what the bill does and I’d need to educate myself. Many bills are named in such a way that voting against it makes you sound like a monster. Obviously neither of us are in favor of violence against women. That doesn’t mean that the bill as presented is the best way to prevent violence against women. Perhaps some changes need to be made. This is a good point and I’m glad you made it. You would have to make a very carefully worded argument, have facts that are from neutral sources (if they track back to an organization that tends to be a bit misogynistic then you’re toast), and be patient in answering questions. You might also want to wear a flame-retardant suit. LOL

          • posted by Jorge on

            Oh, there’s a way to do that. Ask a bizarre question instead of making a bold statement. It’s not something I often do on the internet.

            In person, I have a habit of asking questions that cause other people to take the topic in a totally different directions. Like once during a training when I more or less asked how an antidiscrimination policy applies to families that want to send their children to reparative therapy.

            Anyway, the only part I noted from the story about what VAWA does was that it provides funds to law enforcement organizations like DA offices. That’s pretty much what it would have to be, since the states already have criminal laws. When I first thought about the story I figured this is a pretty important exercise of throwing money at a problem. But then I did a complete 180. And I could do one again.

            Speaking of minefields, the *reason* it wasn’t passed (aside from the current political environment) is because there was some kind of proposal to expand the act to cover LGBT victims or services (or something) in some way, and Republicans balked.

            Now, I’m just going blindly off on a tangent, because this is definitely a fairly new issue, but I have become suspicious of attempts to tie in GLBT rights with more popularly appreciated concepts and social problems (oh, dear, this probably puts me at odds with GOProud). I think it might be a good thing in this case to have a separate drawing board. Get people prepared and invested in what the government is going to ask them to do instead of having them scratch their heads over a footnote.

  7. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    I am convinced that when they wrote the Second Amendment the founding fathers saw into the future and they really meant Star Wars light sabers and laser guns when they talked about the right to keep and bear arms ;0)

  8. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    Lawrence v. Texas did not say that the government could not regulate adult sexual conduct. Thus, if we compare that case to a theory on gun control, it would not hold that the government could not regulate guns.

    The theoretical question becomes whether or not a particular regulation or rule is fair and reasonable.

    Personally, I think that gun rights should come with an equal amount of gun responsibility. If you want to own guns, great and I will support your right. However, is it too much to ask that you demonstrate that you know how to be responsible with your guns?

    Assault weapons, for example, are not used for hunting (unless you do not want hunting to be taken seriously as a sport) and they seem a bit overkill for your ‘average’ Joe or Jane-gaypack looking for some self-defense.

    • posted by Doug on

      Yes, you are asking too much if you expect gun owners to be responsible. Just witness the spectacle of that talk show gun nut on Miers Morgan the other night.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/piers-morgan-alex-jones-gun-control_n_2438963.html

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Yes, you are asking too much if you expect gun owners to be responsible.

        Nonsense, Doug. It is probably unreasonable to expect that all gun owners will be responsible all of the time — few human beings act responsibly 24x7x365 — but it is not unreasonable to demand that all gun owners act responsibly and be liable for the consequences resulting from use of their guns.

        In fact, the law now does so. As our local police chief put it one time when we were discussing Wisconsin’s recent concealed carry law and the dangers that it poses, “Anyone firing a bullet is responsible for the bullet until it comes to rest.” You pull the trigger and you are legally on the hook for any and all foreseeable consequences.

        • posted by Doug on

          That was meant as a sarcastic remark, Tom. But for the NRA there is no such thing as reasonable gun laws. They are even against checking to see if a gun purchaser is on the Terrorist Watch list. Fortunately according to polls well over 50% of gun owners disagree with the NRA but they will have to elect new leadership before anything good comes out of the NRA.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            But for the NRA there is no such thing as reasonable gun laws. They are even against checking to see if a gun purchaser is on the Terrorist Watch list.

            The NRA is well off on the fringes of rationality.

            Among other things, the NRA backs laws that would make it illegal for a doctor to talk with patients about basic firearm safety, like keeping the guns in a locked cabinet when not in use.

            The NRA succeeded in getting a “muzzle the doctors” law passed in Florida in 2011. A federal judge banned it as an unconstitutional infringement on the right of free speech in July 2012. Maybe that will put a stop to that nonsense, but I’m not holding my breath on that or any other issue involving the NRA.

            Wisconsin’s Republican legislature made removing Wisconsin’s firearms safety laws a high priority since the Tea Party election of 2010, and at one point had designed a concealed carry law that had police officers all over the state up in arms. The law got modified somewhat before it passed, but it is not a well-designed law.

            If anyone has any doubt about how fringe the NRA is, I recommend that you spend a few hours on the NRA-ILA website, reading with an open mind. And if that isn’t enough, read the NRA publications, the materials sent to members. I get read them, and at times the rants in the editorial sections are downright frightening.

            But you really don’t need to do all of that. Just listen to Wayne LaPierre for a while. We should give him a megaphone. He is a walking, talking advertisement for reasonable regulation of firearms.

            Fortunately according to polls well over 50% of gun owners disagree with the NRA but they will have to elect new leadership before anything good comes out of the NRA.

            The NRA has become a captive of the firearms industry. NRA membership — which is miniscule compared to the number of gun owners, by the way, has no control over, and precious little to say about, the NRA’s leadership or the positions it takes.

            The NRA isn’t going to change from the inside. That’s why we need a grassroots organization like MADD to get out and get organized.

            Firearms regulation is not a hot-button issue for most people. But I’m probably not atypical for rural folks in this country. I’m a gun owner, and I use the guns I own appropriately, but I also knew about a dozen who were killed by firearms, accidentally or intentionally. We need to cut those numbers down, and we can.

            State legislatures, in particular, have become increasingly reckless and negligent in recent years with respect to gun safety and firearms regulation, and it is time that sensible people, including sensible gun owners, started to demand better of them.

            The NRA, like the hard-core anti-gay right, is contributing to the Republican Party’s slide off into the fringes. I don’t like it, not one bit. We need two parties, both at least somewhat anchored to the rational middle. We are losing that …

  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    “Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds blogs: “Over the years I’ve often said that in my ideal world, happily married gay couples would have closets full of assault weapons.” The first part hasn’t gone over so well with social conservatives.

    Some years ago, Jon Rauch proposed that gays and lesbians should arm themselves to protect themselves against gay bashing — the “Pink Pistols“.

    I’ve never carried, concealed or open, except on my own property, and don’t want to begin. But I had enough personal experience with threats of violence during my very public role in fighting Wisconsin’s anti-marriage amendment in 2006 to understand and appreciate the value of Rauch’s views.

    As far as I know, Wisconsin doesn’t have a chapter of the Pink Pistols at present (our concealed carry law is less than 18 months old) and I’ll be curious to see whether a chapter is formed, as chapters have been formed in other states.

    Although gay-bashing is a serious matter, I’ve often joked with friends that we don’t really need to form a chapter of the Pink Pistols to put the fear of Jesus into potential gay bashers — all we would have to do is participate in every small-town parade in the area, passing out invitations to join a Pink Pistols chapter to every single person watching the parade. I can guarantee you that 5,000 half-sheets suggesting that gays and lesbians were armed and dangerous, handed out in Reedsburg or Portage, would set the dogs to barking.

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