Lax gun regulations fueled Club Q violence

Lax+gun+regulations+fueled+Club+Q+violence

Isabella Ciriello, Staff writer

On Saturday, November 19, a deadly shooting occurred at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. The shooter murdered 5 and injured over 18.

The Club Q shooting shocked most of the country, but for me, it felt oddly ordinary. After skimming the New York Times article on the attack, I went back to my homework, completely unfazed. Over the next few days, as the shooting garnered more media attention, I realized how desensitized I have become to the gun violence in our country. I started to pay more attention to conversations about gun control, anti-LGBTQ sentiments, and the intersection of the two. While it is important to focus on the gun side of the issue, we must recognize how also certain ideologies lead to attacks like these.

The United States has a gun problem. According to the Center for Disease Control, 2020 recorded the highest number of firearm-related deaths: 45,222 Americans, a 14% increase from 2019. That translates to 124 Americans dying every day from an injury caused by a gun. The U.S. has the highest global ratio of guns to citizens. In 2018, there were 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents. The country with the second highest ratio has less than half this ratio.  Additionally, organizations such as the National Rifle Association use their power and money to create considerable sway in politics.  

A mass shooting is defined as an attack in which three or more people are victims of gun violence. As of November 22, the Gun Violence Archive reported 607 mass shootings and predicted this year will surpass the 690 mass shootings of 2021 with just a month left in 2022.

It is no coincidence the Club Q attack occurred the day before Transgender Day of Remembrance and a scheduled family-friendly, all-ages drag brunch Club Q planned to host. There has been a massive wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the past few years, from Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education,” or so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans discussions about gender and sexuality in the state’s public schools until the age of 10, to Alabama’s Senate Bill 184, which allows for the prosecution of parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for transgender youth. These sentiments — many of which are promoted by politicians like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis  — have a direct link to the Club Q shooting.

Recently, the far right has fixated on the increasing number of teenagers who identify as LGBTQ. As of February 2022, 7.1% of 12,000 adult Americans surveyed identified as LGBTQ, nearly double the percentage from 2012. This number is even higher amongst Gen Z Americans — 21%. While conservatives may attribute this to false narratives about LGBTQ people pushing an “agenda” on young people, the reality is younger generations have the language and resources to self-identify in a more nuanced manner. DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted in support of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, writing, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.”

Politicians spreading these dangerous claims normalizes the behavior that leads to widespread violence against LGBTQ people. With social media platforms, politicians can share their opinions to a large audience and easily influence people, no matter how incorrect or dangerous it may be. We’ve seen the dangers of misinformation with Donald Trump’s tweets about the election being stolen fueling the January 6th riots. Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker ran anti-trans ads and delivered a speech with transphobic remarks days before the Club Q shooting. He further condemned his opponent, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, about using proper pronouns for military members, saying, “Pronouns. What the heck is a pronoun? I can tell you right now, grenades don’t know nothing about no pronouns.” 

Malicious intentions and sentiments have led to the idea that pro-LGBTQ educators are indoctrinating students, and the criminalization of healthcare for members of the LGBTQ community, and once again, horrendous violence against the LGBTQ community. To curb these attacks, our government should enact stricter gun control laws. But, as citizens, we must refuse to become complacent and condemn prejudiced politicians and their hate-fueled sentiments before they cause further damage.