The Pink Pistols, which promotes ‘legal, safe and responsible’ use of guns for self defense, helps explain the surge in interest in guns from the LGBT community
Joanna Walters in New York
Thursday 23 June 2016
Weapons sales and membership in a group calling on gays and lesbians to arm themselves in self-defense against homophobic attacks have surged since the massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida last weekend.
The group, the Pink Pistols, announced last week a tripling in acknowledged members in the five days since a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 in an attack on Pulse in Orlando in the early hours of 12 June.
The Pink Pistols, a gun club predominantly for LGBT members and their supporters, promotes “legal, safe and responsible use of firearms for self defense of the sexual minority community” according to its website.
A senior Pink Pistols member said that if patrons had been armed at the Orlando nightclub they might have prevented the shooting or minimized loss of life.
“I think there is a possibility that it could have prevented it … or helped to make the death toll less. If we could have sent one more person home to their family alive instead of in a body bag that would have been something,” said Gwen Patton, a spokeswoman for the Pink Pistols.
Patton said that membership of the group’s Facebook page had tripled from 1,500 before the Orlando massacre to 4,500 by Thursday. But with no formal registration system or fees for joining the Pink Pistols, there were no reliable membership numbers available for the group itself, she said.
The apparent surge in interest in guns from the LGBT community comes as posters and flags have been reported at a number of locations, including streets in Los Angeles’s gay neighborhood West Hollywood and outside a controversial event in Orlando, depicting a rainbow version of the revolutionary war-era Gadsden Flag – a flag more usually associated with Tea Party conservatives than with gay rights activism.
Some of the Gadsden symbols seen deploy the anti-government slogan “Don’t tread on me” beneath the traditional image of a snake poised to strike, while others have substituted a seeming call to arms via social media, “#ShootBack”, on a rainbow-striped background, the color scheme long ago adopted by the gay equality movement.