On May 11, three weeks before the first day of Pride month, the Department of Homeland Security circulated a briefing to government and law enforcement agencies warning that threats of violence against the queer community are increasing and intensifying. The notice wasn’t exactly surprising — armed right-wing extremists have been leading anti-LGBTQ+ protests at an alarming pace, trans rights are under attack across the country, and even the FBI’s limited data documented a 70 percent increase in hate crimes against queer people from 2020 to 2021, the most recent year with available data. In the leadup to Pride 2023, businesses were threatened and boycotted for marketing campaigns involving trans people or supporting gay rights.

There’s a backdrop to all of this: Before the contemporary war on queerness reached its current height, LGBTQ+ people were already disproportionately victimized in violent crime, particularly gun violence. An analysis of the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey found that queer people were more than two times as likely to be victims of gun violence than straight or cisgender people; guns were involved in three out of five known hate-based homicides of LGBTQ+ people that year. Black transgender women are especially vulnerable, representing two-thirds of all known victims of fatal violence against trans and gender nonconforming people since 2013, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Most of those killings involved guns.

For many activists, though, this June feels particularly dangerous. The Proud Boys, one of the extremist groups leading the surge in anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations, have declared it “Proud” month, Insider reports, and are planning nationwide protests designed to incite violence. Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, is also expected to have an increased presence at this year’s Pride events. Anti-queer rhetoric has also been ramping up in online hate forums.

But their efforts to terrify Pride celebrations out of existence might not pan out. The New Republic reports that as extremist groups have targeted queer communities over the past year, activists have been honing tactics to get them to retreat. And for some Pride organizers, Rolling Stone reports, the current rash of anti-LGBTQ+ hate is nothing new. The recent attacks might actually be emboldening more people to get involved in Pride events. 

“Anyone who spends enough time online and monitoring it is aware of the risks,” one organizer told Rolling Stone. “But for us it’s important to provide a sense of community, a space where folks can heal.”

From Our Team

What Went Wrong With New Jersey’s Smart Gun Law?: After a 20-year wait, it’s unclear if a controversial state law requiring gun stores to carry smart guns will finally take effect.

In America, Accidental Shootings Among Kids Occur Nearly Every Other Day: Over the past year, 162 children under 13 shot themselves or another child with an unsecured gun.

What to Know This Week

As President Joe Biden calls on Congress to strengthen gun regulations, his son Hunter is on his way to becoming a poster child for the Second Amendment. Lawyers for the younger Biden say that if he’s charged with a gun crime — stemming from his purchase of a gun in 2018, a time he’s said he was regularly using crack cocaine — they’ll challenge the federal law banning firearm possession by drug users. [POLITICO]

The killing of Najee Seabrooks — a violence intervention worker who was experiencing a mental health episode when he was shot — prompted New Jersey’s attorney general to take control of the Paterson Police Department. But can a state takeover fix a department with a yearslong pattern of brutality? [The New York Times]

The country’s largest ghost gun manufacturer, Polymer80, reached a settlement in a civil lawsuit with Los Angeles, the City Attorney’s Office announced, agreeing to pay $5 million in penalties and adhering to regulations that prohibit the company from selling “buy, build, shoot” kits in California without first conducting a background check and adding serial numbers to its products. [Courthouse News]

Scot Peterson was working as a campus police officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a gunman killed 17 people in 2018. He never confronted the shooter — and now, his alleged inaction is the subject of a trial believed to be the first of its kind. [The Washington Post]

A lawyer for Zackey Rahimi, the plaintiff behind the 5th Circuit ruling that overturned a federal ban on gun possession by people subject to domestic violence restraining orders, urged the Supreme Court to let the lower court’s decision stand. The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to reverse the 5th Circuit ruling. [CNN]

In communities across the country, parents are fighting for gun reform at an extremely local level: They’re pushing for changes to municipal zoning ordinances, in order to ban firearm stores from operating near schools. [Reckon]

The head of the Rod of Iron Ministries, a controversial religious sect that worships with AR-15s and imagines Jesus Christ as a manufacturer of assault weapons, has a new side gig: turning his sermons into “MAGA rap” to spread far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories. [VICE]

Last month in San Francisco, a Walgreens security guard shot and killed Banko Brown, a 24-year-old Black, trans man with an insecure housing situation. Video shows that Brown was retreating from the store when he was shot, but the city’s DA declined to press charges. The story of Brown’s killing not only reveals the true nature of San Francisco’s supposed crime crisis, writes Toshio Meronek, but also shows a tragic convergence of the American crises of gun violence, racism, homelessness, and transphobia. Why aren’t more people paying attention? [The Nation]

It’s been three years since a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd. While the protests have quieted, Black people are still disproportionately killed by police — and the pain of indirect exposure to these killings endures. [The New York Times]

Ralph Yarl, the Kansas City, Missouri, teenager who was shot in the head after ringing the wrong doorbell in April, participated in a Memorial Day walk and run to raise money for traumatic brain injury victims. Since he was wounded, the 17-year-old has been experiencing migraines, his aunt said, making it difficult for him to play music. [The Guardian]

In Memoriam

Mike “Tomlinese” Tomlin, 32, was a musical “jack of all trades” — a talented rapper, singer, sound engineer, DJ, and producer, and a well-respected figure in Pittsburgh’s music scene. Tomlin was shot and killed last weekend in the city’s Wilkinsburg borough. He was sought out for his production skills: “If you are part of the music scene in this city, you have worked with him, and he probably made the best song you have,” a loved one told the local ABC affiliate. He created opportunities for artists; when he worked as a DJ at an R&B station, Tomlin would organize shows and help people launch their careers. “He was a beam of light,” said a friend. “He was witty. He was creative. He could make a beat out of pencils and a can, and it would be dope.” Tomlin had a unique energy that “will never be seen again in this city,” another friend added. “He was truly a gift.”

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Pull Quote

“Believe it or not, I think all the nasty politics and laws are encouraging more people who have been thinking about hosting an event to say, ‘We have to do it, we have to fight back.’ That’s the way we will fight back, with visibility, with celebration.”

— Susan Steinburg, a Pride organizer in Mahwah, New Jersey, on the increase in involvement with Pride in her community, to Rolling Stone