The nation’s first pro-gay, pro-gun group, Pink Pistols, joined forces with Operation Blazing Sword, a program dedicated to firearm education, training and support for the LGBTQ community, at the Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago.

Pink Pistols was founded in 2000 with a simple mission, to “[T]each queer people to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.” Since their inception, their ranks have swelled to 30,000 across North America. In addition to training, the organization has also successfully filed numerous amicus briefs in high profile cases.

Operation Blazing Sword is much newer, founded after the Pulse Nightclub Massacre of June 12, 2016. The group also provides access to education in safe firearms handling as well as encouragement to obtain Concealed Carry Weapon permits where legal. Despite only being around for a couple of years, Operation Blazing Sword has 1,600 volunteer instructors.

The two organizations announced the partnership at the 33rd Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC 2018), held September 21st through the 23rd in Chicago. This merger results in the creation of the single largest queer pro-gun group in history.

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of Pink Pistols, has been succeeded by Erin Palette, founder of Operation Blazing Sword, to serve as Coordinator for both factions of the newly formed LGBTQ Super Group.

Addressing the crowd after accepting her new role as leader, Palette spoke of the early days of Pink Pistols, when being outed as queer often resulted in loss of one’s job or worse. Palette explained that national member lists were not maintained to protect the privacy of its members. But keeping Pink Pistol factions regional limited the scope of their community outreach. Palette stated “the ability to connect…is crucial.”

Operation Blazing Sword is a 501c3 tax-deductible charity, so funds can now be raised at a national level to help chapters in need, whether that is to rent a booth at a Pride Festival, buy ammunition for a range day, or hold a community seminar. “After all,” reminded Palette, “the most powerful sword is the one wielded by two hands.”