After a weekend of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, an organization, Gays Against Guns, held a rally with some 300 members for gun control in Times Square.
The group, formed in the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, does not only work against mass shootings but all gun-related violence, mainly targeting the NRA and GOP. After 30 lives were lost and countless more injured this weekend, in one event that could be prosecuted as a hate crime, and after Donald Trump confused Dayton for Toledo in a speech, the LGBTQ-plus community, oft a group victim to violence, is letting its voice be heard.
In Virginia, outside NRA headquarters, gun control groups like March for Our Lives — created by students, including Emma Gonzalez, from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — held vigil for victims of gun violence and chanted the names of those lost including the 13 Black transgender women killed so far this year. Tameka “Michelle” Washington of Philadelphia was one of those names.
Simultaneously, State Rep. Candice Keller, a Republican from Ohio blamed the shooting on the LGBTQ community, among other liberal ideals.
She said on Facebook: “The breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage and drag queen advocates); fatherlessness, a subject no one discusses or believes is relevant; the ignoring of violent video games; the relaxing of laws against criminals (open borders); the acceptance of recreational marijuana; failed school policies (hello, parents who defend misbehaving students): disrespect to law enforcement (thank you, Obama).”
Even more unsettling than her scapegoating of the LGBTQ community and other elements with no factual link to mass gun violence was her mention of “criminals” in relation to “open borders” just a day after the El Paso shooting, which investigators quickly suspected was motivated by racial animus: Alleged shooter Patrick Crusius, 21, posted about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and his intent to kill “hispanics” on a notorious white-supremacy forum some 20 minutes before he opened fire in a Walmart.
According to data from nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), 255 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. this year, making 2019 the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting per day.
The pain of Pulse, even three years later, is still acute in the community. Every subsequent massacre has ripped open that scar, allowing no reprieve
for healing. It’s why organizations like Gays Against Guns show up — and why they
won’t be shutting up, at least until this nation stops averaging more than one mass shooting a day. n