CINCINNATI – Why look at guns when you could look at boobs?
That’s the idea behind a group of people who are unhappy about open carry activists planning to bring guns to this year’s Cincinnati Pride Parade.
The gun group is planning to bring their weapons to the parade June 25 in an effort to convince the LGBT community that guns would help prevent another massacre like the one in a Florida that left 49 victims dead when a gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub.
As a response, some local LGBT advocates have made the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that women attending Pride bear their breasts in order to mock and draw attention from the “boobs” with guns, according to Michele Hobbs, who had the idea to make the counter-event on Facebook.
“It made us sick to our stomachs,” Hobbs said of learning about the open carry plans. “It’s like: we’ve been through enough, guys. This is not necessary. It’s the wrong time. It’s the wrong place.”
Hobbs described herself as a concealed-carry weapon permit holder who believes in the second amendment, but said that she didn’t think it was right to bring the issue to Pride, when the LGBT community celebrates its efforts to be recognized as individuals with the same rights as anyone else.
She questioned why the open carry activists hadn’t come out to defend the LGBT community at times like when Westboro Baptist Church members were protesting them.
“You have a group that comes in and takes advantage of something tragic … with their idea of what guns should and shouldn’t be,” she said. “We don’t want this murder to be only about guns.”
Hobbs said she didn’t actually plan to go topless at the parade and didn’t advocate for anyone else to for the same reason she believed guns don’t belong there: it’s a family event.
“It was really about making fun of the boobs,” Hobbs said. “And the guys with the guns, those are the boobs.”
Jeffry Smith, the open carry activist who is organizing the demonstration, declined to comment.
Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders said it’s legal for the open carry activists to bring their guns, just as it’s legal for any parade-goers to go topless.
“People have the right to express themselves,” he said.
And while it doesn’t happen too often, it is legal for women to publicly bear their breasts in Ohio. About 20 years ago, several women were arrested for going topless at a gay pride parade in Columbus. They sued the city and won when courts ruled that breasts do not count as “private parts.”
Saunders said police were ready to handle the large event, as they do numerous times each year. They will keep an eye out for any “threatening” or “menacing” behavior anyone attending Pride events, he said.
And while the open carry activists are planning to attend the Cincinnati Pride Parade, LGBT activists across the country have been calling for increased gun control. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT-rights group in the U.S., called for new measures to curb gun violence, the Associated Press reported Friday.
The HRC wants steps to limit access to assault-style rifles, expand background checks and limit access to firearms for suspected terrorists and people with a history of domestic abuse, according to the AP report.
“This community is not going to be weakened by some coward with an assault rifle,” Hobbs said.