By Ben Garrett
Gun rights advocates have an unlikely ally in the Pink Pistols.
The Pink Pistols is a gun advocacy group for gay, lesbian, and transgender persons. With more than 40 chapters across the United States and expansion planned to Canada, the Pink Pistols represent a growing number of LGBT gun owners who are speaking out for the right to defend themselves.
A Cause Rooted in Self-Defense
The Pink Pistols is an unlikely ally for the Second Amendment for one very specific reason: Gun rights is generally considered a stallworth of the conservative movement while the LGBT rights movement is generally considered to be anything but.
That has not stopped LGBT gun owners and firearms enthusiasts from stepping to the plate to join forces with a group with whom they are typically at odds when it comes to politics. Their motive is direct and simple: self-defense.
“We no longer believe it is the right of those who hate and fear gay, lesbian, bi, trans or polyamorous persons to use us as targets for their rage. Self-defense is our right,” the Pink Pistols’ website states.
The group’s logo includes a message for those who might consider violence against LGBTs: “Pick on someone your own caliber.” Their website includes another slogan: “Armed gays don’t get bashed.”
A 2000 Salon.com article that inspired the formation of the Pink Pistols stated, “If it became widely known that homosexuals carry guns and know how to use them, not many bullets would need to be fired. In fact, not all that many gay people would need to carry guns, as long as gay-bashers couldn’t tell which ones did. Suddenly, what is now an almost risk-free sport for testosterone-drenched teenagers would become a great deal less attractive.”
“The more people know that members of our community may be armed, the less likely they will be to single us out for attack,” the group’s website states.
Inspiration for a Cause
That Salon.com article, written by National Journal columnist and Independent Gay Forum vice president Jonathan Rauch, inspired Doug Krick to organize a call to arms of sorts for gays interested in protecting themselves from violence.
Krick, a Libertarian who unsuccessfully ran for the state house of representatives in Massachusetts in 2004, had been gathering with friends at a shooting range on a regular basis and when he read Rauch’s article, the name for their small group was a no-brainer.
“[Homosexuals] should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry,” Rauch wrote. Taking the cue, Krick founded the Pink Pistols in 2000.
Before long, interest in Krick’s group was growing and some within the LGBT community were expressing a desire to form their own groups. “I said, ‘What the hell, let’s have some fun,’” Krick told the Philadelphia Gay News in 2001.
Within 18 months, there were 23 chapters of the Pink Pistols. By the close of 2010, there were 60 chapters across the United States and the group had just formed its first chapter in Canada.
Bridging the Gap
While gun rights and homosexuality might seem a strange marriage, the Pink Pistols are working on closing the gap between the gay and shooting communities. On its website, the group focuses specifically on a course of action to help Pink Pistols gain a foothold within the shooting community.
From building professional relationships to developing good karma through community activism, the Pink Pistols encourages its members to find ways to interact with the community as a whole and other shooters in particular.
“Stay cool, have fun, and treat people fairly, and even when you lose, you will win people’s respect,” the website states. “In the long run, you can change people’s minds about guns and alternative sexuality, one mind at a time.”
Membership Requirements and Benefits
While most members of the Pink Pistols are members of the LGBT community, heterosexual gun owners are invited to join, and some do.
“You don’t have to be gay to join us any more than you have to be black to support civil rights,” the group’s website states.
The group also doesn’t require that members be gun owners. Members wishing to take part in trips to shooting ranges can rent guns, “or club members will bring extra for you,” according to its website.
Pink Pistols groups get together monthly at local firing ranges to practice shooting. The group helps its members select firearms appropriate for them, acquire permits and receive training to properly use their guns.
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