ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Local chapters of the Pink Pistols organization can be found all over North Carolina, in Asheville, the Triad and the Triangle. The guiding philosophy of the group is to teach LGBTQ people to defend themselves against “those who hate and fear gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or polyamorous persons to use us as targets for their rage,” according to their website. But this ideal clashes with another group, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, although both organizations formed as a reaction to the Pulse massacre in Orlando.
After the attack that cost 49 LGBTQ people and allies their lives and injured 53 more, the traumatized masses had to react somehow. The Pride Fund began to try “turning the frustration and anger of our community into action by focusing on achieving sensible gun reforms to make America safer for all.” It is a political action committee (PAC) that supports political candidates who advocate for gun reform and LGBTQ rights.
“The LGBTQ community suffers more hate crimes than any other protected group, which makes our voice critical in the fight to disarm hate,” the PAC contends. “When a hate-filled individual can easily purchase a weapon of war without a background check, we are not safe.”
The Pride Fund did endorse Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidential race, but despite this loss, some of the PAC’s candidates did succeed. New Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) was just one of the Pride Fund’s victorious endorsements.
In contrast, the Pink Pistols are not a PAC and don’t want to be. The group defines itself as “a shooting group that honors diversity and is open to all shooters … We work to build bridges between the shooting community and other communities, such as those based on alternative sexualities.” These alternative sexualities are not limited to the LGBTQ community, but rather the Pistols welcome those who are polyamorous or involved in BDSM as well.
The Pistols identify as a grassroots organization, and have 45 chapters nationwide. More than self-defense, the Pink Pistols aim to change the perception of LGBTQ people as easy victims.
“Armed queers don’t get bashed,” the organization’s website asserts. “We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts — beatings, assaults, rapes, murders — will realize that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms.”
The groups’ contrasting strategies have a common goal: to reduce the risk of hate crimes against LGBTQ people. According to The New York Times, LGBTQ people are the most likely group to fall victim to hate crimes. Whatever your stance on guns, these resources provide a vehicle for taking action.