Firearms sales and membership in the Pink Pistols, a group advocating for LGBT self defense, are surging since the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this month.
PP announced last week a tripling in acknowledged members in the five days since the massacre on June 12. The club is predominantly for LGBT members and their supporters, according to this story from The Guardian, and it promotes “legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self defense of the sexual minority community.”
Gwen Patton, a spokesperson for PP, said things may have gone differently if any of the patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando were armed.
“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,” Patton said in the story.
Patton told The Guardian that the group’s Facebook page has tripled its followers from 1,500 to 4,500 since the attack. There is no formal registration system or membership fees to be part of PP, so accurate membership numbers aren’t available.
The story says there has been a proliferation of posters and flags in several locations, including streets in Los Angeles’ gay neighborhood West Hollywood and outside a controversial event in Orlando, depicting a rainbow version of the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden Flag, some with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me” beneath the traditional image of a snake poised to strike.
Others have taken to social media with the hashtag #ShootBack and rainbow-striped backgrounds.
The story says that gun dealers and firearms trainers in Colorado report an increase in sales to LGBT customers locally since the Orlando attack.
“I was appalled by the killing in Orlando. I was enraged, hurt, and saddened, but I know this is not going to be the last (attack),” Patton said.
“The Pink Pistols promotes gun-carrying for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as ‘an act of individual responsibility and as the best tool for getting out of a criminal encounter unharmed’, she said.
“The group’s slogan is ‘Pick on someone your own caliber,’ and it issued a statement in the aftermath of the massacre that said the event was ‘exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies the existence’ of Pink Pistols.”
Write Jonathan Rausch, who influenced the founding of the Pink Pistols, said in the story that “Being able to rely on ourselves for self-defense is an important part of standing up for ourselves.”
PP has 45 chapters across the country that meet about once a month, with members and supporters in Canada and other countries, the story says.