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A new report from the gun safety advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety underscores the effects gun violence has on LGBTQ+ lives.
With more than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. each year involving a firearm, a significant number of those crimes are directed at queer people.
LGBTQ+ youth have a greater chance of experiencing bias-motivated violence involving weapons than non-LGBTQ+ youth, the report notes. Research from the Human Rights Campaign cited by Everytown for Gun Safety shows that while 6 percent of non-LGBTQ+ youth have been hurt or threatened by a weapon at school, 17 percent of LGBTQ+ youth have. Of queer youth, 29 percent of trans youth and 30 percent of questioning youth have.
"Our country is in the midst of a gun violence crisis. And this epidemic of violence is deeply impacting members of the LGBTQ+community," Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown, tells The Advocate. "[The] nexus of hate and firearms is very deadly."
Everytown's report was partially inspired by the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016. It notes the effect that the shooting, which killed 49 people, mostly queer and Latinx, had on LGBTQ+ people's sense of protection in previously perceived safe spaces.
Of the continued epidemic of violence against transgender Americans, 73 percent of trans people -- mostly Black trans women -- who were killed during the years 2017-2021 were killed with a gun. The group notes that while the violence against transgender people has continued to increase, states across the country have considered or passed hundreds of anti-trans bills.
"It creates an environment ripe for deadly gun violence fueled by hate. Anti-trans violence, and specifically anti-trans gun violence, is concentrated against the Black community," the report states.
Gun violence also poses a threat to LGBTQ+ people since they are at a higher risk of contemplating or attempting suicide. Research shows that 90 percent of suicide attempts that involve a gun are deadly compared with 4 percent of attempts not involving a gun. The Trevor Project's 2022 survey of LGBTQ+ youth found that 45 percent seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year. Trans youth and LGBTQ+ youth of color report higher rates than cisgender or white youth.
Additionally, the report points to domestic violence and the dangers that access of a firearm can pose.
But what can be done?
Burd-Sharps urges better gun control laws and as well as addressing the increased anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that she says is fueling the violence.
"We need is a combination of stronger gun laws ... but also an understanding that bills like ['don't say gay'] and other hate-fueled actions have a real-life impact on people and on people's lives," Burd-Sharp says.
She explains, "Our existing weak gun laws, combined with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation, they validate a hateful, hateful ideology, and they can increase hate-fueled gun violence."
One example of proposed laws that could help prevent gun violence, specifically violence motivated by hate, is the Disarm Hate Act.
"It would close a really dangerous loophole in federal law," says Burd-Sharps. "Right now, federal law bars pretty much everyone with a felony conviction from having a gun, but many hate crimes are not felonies, they're misdemeanors."
"If you're convicted of a hate crime in 25 U.S. states, you could still legally be armed. And in our view, this is extremely dangerous."
If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.