On Thursday evening, anti-gun violence organizations—Brady United Against Gun Violence, Gays Against Guns, Rise and Resist, March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—held a rally and press conference in Union Square in response to the New York Supreme Court decision to allow civilians to carry firearms.
In a matter of moments a mote of reporters, video cameras and photographers surrounded the grassroots protesters. The organizers were quick to denounce the government, and the press, for only taking action when our country’s laws fail America.
“Do your job!” One protester yelled from the pond of anti-gun signs. Some posters read “Ban Assault Weapons Now”; another read, “Political puppets of the NRA we will vote you out”.
People rallied in condemnation—with fight in their bodies.
“I think the mission today is to show that there’s still a united front against this disgusting decision,” said Shannon VanEsley, a Brady United Against Gun Violence activist. VanEsley believes that the Supreme Court had “their ducks in a row” to make this decision, and she’s not the only one.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Thursday that Americans have the right to carry firearms to defend themselves in public. This ruling dismantles New York’s safe laws on carrying a firearm outside of a person’s household unless special need is demonstrated. Now people can carry concealed firearms without reasonable cause to public events.
Due to the decision New Jersey, Hawaii, California, Maryland and Massachusetts will be forced to change their gun laws.
“In this case, petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” said Justice Clarence Thomas’ in the opinion of the Court.
The decision comes with years of lobbying, millions of dollars, and the consequence of increasing—the already mounting—physical attacks on LGBTQ+ people.
Ten days ago in Alameda, CA members of Proud Boys, neo-fascist, alt-right group, stormed Drag Queen Story Hour at San Lorenzo Library to harass patrons, including children; on May 31, Paighten Harkins, reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, reported that LGBTQ hate crimes in Utah have nearly doubled; on June 11, 31 members of Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, were busted in Idaho for conspiracy to riot against Coeur d’Alene’s Pride event.
GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis says anti-LGBTQ laws and false propaganda messaging are also to blame for this increased lifethreatening harm on the community.
Lawmakers and Governors like DeSantis and Abbott, along with their co-conspirators at Fox News, better pause today and recognize that their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and the nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year are responsible for this dangerous climate. https://t.co/FzUwpmMj4W
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) June 12, 2022
Now white nationalists can carry concealed weapons to one of the largest Pride parades in the country, New York City Pride.
In the last 12 years hate crimes have reached an all time high, according to the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Statistics, and they disproportionately affect BIPOC LGBTQ communities. Additionally, overhwhelming amount of LGBTQ+ people (70%) said they experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identityin 2022 compared to 2020 (46%) and 2021 (59%), according to GLAAD’s 2022 Accelerating Acceptance report. In the same report, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are about 91% more likely to experience discrimination.
Upper West Side (District 67) Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal joined activists to consider how gun safety deviation will impact diverse communities. Lawmakers must come up with solutions, she says
“I’m thinking of the intersection of [the Supreme Court’s] upcoming abortion decision and this decision, so anyone can take a gun and stand outside an abortion clinic in New York State,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal at the rally. “What we are permitted to do after this decision is to designate areas where someone cannot bring their gun, and I’m thinking the whole city.”
In 2021 Assemblymember Rosenthal passed the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, which bans all ghost guns, by mandating they be serialized, but she says much more needs to be done.
For Rise and Resist activist Sean Stefanic the only way he sees a safer America is to abolish the Second Amendment altogether. The Second Amendment language granted slaveowners the right to use guns to crush rebellions against slavery, and that should be enough, said the former Oklahomian (where there are virtually no gun laws). He’s lived in New York City for 10 years.
“This is an atrocity. It is an abomination. Guns have no place in society,” said Stefanic shaking as he spoke.
Activists also demanded the expansion of the Supreme Court. Advocates screamed, “expand the courts!” as Asemblymember Rosenthal walked off the steps of Union Square.
Unlike any country around the world 117,345 people are shot in the United States annually. Of those people 40,620 die from gun violence, and of those killed 54% are suicides and 43% are murders, according to the Brady United website. These numbers are rising.