Jeff Soyer describes himself as a “gay gun nut” and has turned that into a franchise via his blog Alphecca.com. Shunned by all but a handful of “gay” bloggers, he has found acceptance within the pro-2nd Amendment community as one of the tireless defenders of the right to keep and bear arms. His “Weekly Check on the Bias” of media regarding firearm issues has been a weekly feature at Alphecca for nearly four years and he does the report live every Tuesday on the NRA’s NRA News radio broadcast with the host of the show, Cam Edwards, heard by thousands on Sirius Satellite Radio and streamed on the web. At 51-years-old, Jeff lives in a rural part of Vermont, shuns travel except within Vermont and New Hampshire, and works for a medium sized, gay owned furniture manufacturer. On Thursday evenings, a goodly number of the company’s employees (including several officers of the company) gather at a local range to make a lot of noise. Jeff thinks he’s in heaven.
Simon Owens: Since you describe yourself as a gay gun nut, we’re going to start with a few obvious questions. Obviously, as a gun nut, you probably come into contact with many other gun nuts, and since many gun nuts are socially conservative, how has their reactions been to you? Have they rejected you because of your gay status, or have you seen a kind of “Hmm, maybe gay people aren’t so bad after all if they like guns” kind of response?
Jeff Soyer: At the gun stores I frequent, at all the ranges I’ve gone to — all the firearm enthusiasts I’ve met in person or via Alphecca, I’ve never ever had anyone distance themselves from me, make any sort of comment about me (at least that I’ve heard or heard about) and darn-near all of them read my site. Now, do they all “approve” of my “lifestyle”? I certainly doubt it but in Northern New England, you don’t diss someone to their face. Yet they all call me, “Want to go to the range this weekend?”, and so on. One thing about living rurally — there are too few people around to get into hating any of them. I’ve heard plenty of anti-gay remarks and worse when I lived in urban areas. I’ve never heard it — to my face, anyway — in this area.
Further, there IS a fraternity feeling about firearm enthusiasts. We’re all into it. We like plinking and blasting at targets and discussing and trying out new guns, cartridges, grips, and so on. When you hang out at ranges — and for six months a year I’m there 1-2 times a week — everyone is into helping everyone else, trying each other’s firearms, discussing stance, technique, and so on.
Here’s something else. As the result of occassional, stupid comments by a very rare few, people have the idea that the NRA is homophobic. That’s absolute bullshit. As an organization, they have only one concern; protecting our 2nd Amendment rights. Are there some members who don’t like gays? Sure. There are some members of the NAACP and the ACLU and the Democratic Party who don’t like gays. So what? I know for a fact that one of the lawyers employed by the NRA in it’s ILA (Institute of Legislative Affairs) is openly gay. I know for a real fact that the NRA links to Alphecca (meaning me) and allows me to do a segment every Tuesday on their national radio show. They even have my picture up for the 21 hours before the Tuesday show starts. In fact, they pay me for my segment. Does that sound like a homophobic organization?
Simon Owens: Many special interest groups that deal with controversial issues oppose any legislation that limits their cause, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it completely. For instance, in terms of partial-birth abortion (and I label it this grudgingly, since “partial-birth abortion” was a term made up by conservatives, and is incredibly misleading), many pro-choice people might not agree that it’s a good thing, yet they fight the incremental approach because they recognize that pro-life groups are trying to chip away at a woman’s choice to have an abortion. The same goes for gun legislation. But if it weren’t for the incremental approach, would you agree that at least *some* gun control is necessary?
Jeff Soyer: The fact is that there IS a “slippery slope” and we’ve seen it time and again. Outside the U.S. we’ve seen England, Australia, and others who have, through the years, enact more and more restrictions, regulations, and outright bans of firearms. Not coincidentally, their crime rate increases as criminals become emboldened because they face victims who are prohibited from defending themselves.
I believe that if someone has not been convicted of a violent crime, that is — they are “law abiding”, then they should be allowed to own whatever guns they would like.
I actually think the national instant background check conducted by gun dealers is fine. The FBI looks you up to see if you are a convicted felon or have restraining orders against you and gives the dealer a Yes or No for the sale. That’s pretty much all the gun control I think is necessary. I think it is obscene that some few states and municipalities think you need to “show cause” for why you want a handgun, or to carry a handgun, and by the way, most of them do not accept “for personal defense” as a valid reason. In some states, such as New Jersey and Delaware, you can be turned down at the whim of a police chief or judge if they don’t like you or consider you a “moral” person. Gay people were routinely turned down for such permits in many states not that long ago.