With the recent rash of hate-crime-type attacks against Gay Utahns—three in the space of less than three weeks—gun advocates like Dave Nelson, a veteran of gay politics, and Janalee Tobias of Women Against Gun Control are calling on Utahns to arm themselves against violent crime.
Recent attacks on gay men in Utah have alarmed the LGBT community. A gay man in American Fork was assaulted only weeks after two other reported attacks against gay men, including one assault in August where a man outside a Salt Lake City club was jumped by four assailants and the victim was “curb checked”—after his attackers placed his open mouth on a curb and stomped on the back of his head. In the aftermath of such shocking violence, some have criticized the weakness of Utah’s hate-crimes law. But for Nelson, whose activism in the '90s helped create the law, there is another means of protection against such violent acts.
“Crime-prevention techniques are great for preventing crime before the fact, and hate-crime laws are great for punishing perpetrators after the fact. But nothing is getting discussed about what you do when [violence] happens immediately,” Nelson says.
That’s why he and Tobias have issued a press release asking Utahns to consider armed self defense as the best recourse against an attack. Nelson, the owner of Stonewall Shooting, says that many attackers would be surprised if the victim brandished a weapon at them, citing a Justice Department-funded study from the early '80s that found that 69 percent of incarcerated felons reported not carrying a gun in conducting robberies and assaults, citing stiffer jail penalties as the main deterrent.
“The victim, by being armed, has the trump card and can stop that thing in a second,” Nelson says. “The [attacker] usually pisses his pants and runs.”
In a press release, Tobias, founder of the Women Against Gun Control group, also asked Utahns to remember their right to protect themselves in dangerous situations. "We all know gay people who we care about," Tobias said in the press release. "We encourage citizens who feel vulnerable to use their non-controversial right to defend themselves. Gun rights are equal rights.”