In the wake of the deadly shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, the LGBTQ community has been encouraged to defend themselves. The Pink Pistols, a shooting group which teaches folks from all walks of life how to shoot and gun safety, is encouraging sexual minorities even more to defend themselves via firearms, within legal means. As quoted in the Washington Examiner, the organization’s spokesperson Gwendolyn Patton says “This is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence. At such a time of tragedy, let us not reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the killer’s guns. Let us stay focused on the fact that someone hated gay people so much they were ready to kill or injure so many.” Patton also emphasized that the human assailant is to be blamed rather than the tools used for such actions.
With over 45 chapters nationwide, the Pink Pistols are dedicated to the “legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community”, according to their website, pinkpistols.org. Though the Pink Pistols are a strong advocate for legal self-defense for the LGBT community, they allow people from all walks of life to join the group.
Patrons of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, fell victim to an armed assailant with an assault-like rifle and a hand gun around 2am Sunday, which left 49 dead and over 50 injured. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed by police during the incident. The club is popular among the gay community in Orlando, who were celebrating pride month. It was later determined that Mateen had targeted the club because of the sexual orientation of the clientele.
With the country’s mass shootings in recent years, from San Bernardino, CA, to Newtown, CT, to Aurora, CO, doesn’t this open up the discussion on gun safety and regulation in general? Changing federal legislation either now or with the new president in 2017 may not do much as each state has its own gun laws and regulations. For example, New York has the strictest and most complex firearms legislation in the US, with specific regulation within New York City itself. Florida seems to be on the other end of the spectrum, in comparison to New York, as one can easily purchase a firearm from a state-licensed gun store if s/he is over 18 (21+ for a handgun), a legal US resident, without a criminal background and the state doesn’t require a specialized permit for such a purchase. Would this incident have turned out differently if it occurred in any of the prominent LGBT communities in New York State?