Leaving Las Vegas
Now before we leave Vegas behind and see it only in the diluted and disassociated context of our rear view mirrors, I’d like to spend a moment chatting.
First, let me admit I can be as guilty of “lumped in politics” as the next person, and in many ways, CAMP Rehoboth is a perfect lumping ground. Not only are the vast majority of our members gay or allies, with a large portion identifying as Caucasian, but there is also a plurality of liberal political views, urban, and suburban dwellers, above average education, and above average income.
Which means, we often forget, or even worse, neglect (benignly) that there are conservative leaning, Log Cabin Republicans among us, as well as members who are country born and rural raised, immigrants, naturalized citizens, and lower income people. We have parents, married or divorced couples, plural families, military families, and people of diverse ethnicities.
So, even though we sometimes forget, we truly are not all alike.
And it’s a really funny thing. When an LGBTQ person turns out to be a football player (or maybe even their coach—as in Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers—start cheering ladies), we are quick to claim them as our own, to celebrate their very uniqueness.
We take pride in blowing up another stereotype.
But we often assume that person’s uniqueness stops and ends there. That they are otherwise just like “us,” maybe bigger or bolder or hipper, but politically, just like “us.” Not always.
And yet not so very long ago, when the never-ending elections sucked our souls dry, a friend offered up an interesting question. He asked, “Can we leave names out of this and discuss only issues to see where we truly stand and differ?” Now while I’m not certain that made an ultimate difference, it did allow a far more substantive conversation. And you know, on many topics we were not so far apart.
Which is what I am striving for here.
Here, being the world’s longest run up to chatting about gun control. It’s at a tipping point and critically important to find frank honesty and shared ground. And this is only possible if we acknowledge, up front, we do not all have the same needs, wants and life experiences, but I’m pretty sure we all do not want mass killers on the loose. Shared ground.
So let’s set an opening agreement.
I do not need to protest the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. If you want to have a rifle, have a rifle; if you want to have a handgun, have a handgun.
What I need is help understanding why we seem unwilling to find better balance.
So here are some questions:
Congress has the pending SHARE act…why should everyone be able to purchase silencers? If nothing else, hearing gunshots gives a person an opportunity to react. What is the purpose of making silencers available to everyone—other than an additional revenue source for the manufacturer?
What’s wrong with mandatory waiting periods for background checks on the purchaser?
If you want to purchase weapons of a certain type or own more than, let’s say, five guns (or seven or ten), why can’t there be licensing and insurance stages? I’m advocating for gun ownership by class—like a driver’s license.
Class A weapons could be your standard hunting rifle, handgun, etc., available to any adult (whose history does not disqualify them), with valid ID and a forty-eight hour waiting period.
Class B weapons might require a longer wait period, mandatory gun class, specific insurance rider, etc.
Class C could cover restricted guns. In other words, for collectors or people with specific needs to own machine guns and such. Perhaps they must renew their license annually, be registered with bonding, etc.
The NRA spent over three million dollars (that we know of) lobbying in the first six months of this year. I don’t know what the anti-NRA amount is to date. What if both sides spent a fraction of that money to help find a bit of common ground and institute a few policies that de-escalate both the anger and the money involved?
The First Amendment does not allow a person to yell fire in a theatre. The Second Amendment does not say everyone gets their own Weapon of Mass Destruction. We do not let six-year olds drive. Heck, we don’t even let them sit any way they want in any old car seat they want.
We need to build an old school, Venn Diagram, with its intersecting circles and graphs, find a sweet spot, and take the lead on how to get there.
I suggest we start by acknowledging, there may always be a “Vegas Shooter.” But at the current average of nearly one mass shooting per day, there are many lives we can save.
So here’s my question to those in the LGBTQ community who might not be “just like me,” or might not think just like me. How do we come to the table, respect our differences, stop the rhetoric, and find common ground?
Stefani Deoul is the author of the YA mystery novel On a LARP from Bywater Books. Contact Stefani.