Lambda Legal Files Brief On Behalf of LGBTQ+ Rights Organizations Urging Supreme Court to Uphold New York Gun Regulations, Citing Disproportionate Impact Gun Violence Has on LGBTQ+ People, Communities of Color

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September 21, 2021
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Today, Lambda Legal and the law firm Williams & Connolly LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights organizations urging the Supreme Court to uphold a New York gun regulation that would require individuals carrying guns to show proper cause for doing so, arguing that LGBTQ+ people — and especially transgender and LGBTQ+ people of Color — are disproportionately impacted by gun violence, and that sweeping away regulations entirely would further endanger the lives of LGBTQ+ people who have been targeted with deadly hate crimes. 

Joining Lambda Legal in the brief filed today in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen are the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, Gays Against Guns, National LGBTQ Task Force, Equality California, Equality Florida, and Equality New York.

“Gun violence disproportionately affects and harms the LGBTQ+ community,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal. “Too often we hear of the tragic murders of trans women of color, usually with a gun, and of the bias-motivated violence targeting our community. After the Pulse massacre five years ago, we declared, ‘We can no longer be silent about gun violence as an LGBT issue.’ In filing today’s brief, we want to share with the Supreme Court how the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately harmed by gun violence and why we believe that sensible gun safety regulations save LGBTQ+ lives.”



In the brief, Lambda Legal and other amici urged the justices to affirm the previous decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which upheld the gun regulations at issue. 

“History and the tragedies that continue to this day demonstrate that the ready availability of guns disproportionately harms gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. LGBTQ+ people, per capita, are more likely to be targeted for a hate crime than any other group. And, as one organization put it, ‘Hate is far more deadly when armed with a gun.’ All this leads to one conclusion: Reasonable gun regulations will save LGBTQ+ lives,” amici asserted in the brief filed with the court today.

The amicus brief underscores the especially devastating impact gun violence has had on LGBTQ+ people, citing that members of the community are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than other minority groups, and more often than not the deadliest crimes against the LGBTQ+ community involve guns — with one study showing that guns were used in almost 60% of bias-motivated homicides against LGBTQ+ people. 

“Unfortunately, anti-LGBTQ+ attacks are becoming more common. The number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation has increased every year from 2014 to 2019. The numbers hit an all-time high in 2020—anti-LGBTQ+ offenses were up 16% from 2019,” the brief states.

The brief underscores how sweeping away regulations would especially endanger transgender people and LGBTQ+ people of color, arguing that “For almost a decade, guns have been the leading cause of death in murders of transgender people in the United States. Three out of four transgender people killed in 2020 alone died from gun violence.” 

“LGBTQ+ people of color face especially heightened risk of hate crime violence. 90% of the victims of the Pulse shooting were Latinx. And across multiple years and many tragedies, LGBTQ+ people of color — particularly black and Latinx members of the community — face disproportionate levels of violence, including gun violence.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen on November 3, 2021. The full amicus brief filed today can be accessed on Lambda Legal’s website here

Lambda Legal’s Omar Gonzalez-Pagan (Senior Attorney and Health Care Strategist) and Richard Saez (Senior Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Program Strategist) worked on the brief for Lambda Legal, along with Ana C. Reyes and Michael J. Mestitz of Williams & Connolly, LLP.

For more information on Lambda Legal, or to arrange a media interview, please contact Sanjali De Silva at sanjali@precisionstrategies.com.