Saturday, June 18, 2016

Last Call For Locked And Loaded

I've seen a number of stories about this phenomenon, invariably after a mass shooting, people feel the need to protect themselves in this country and gun sales spike.  It's no different after Orlando, where LGBTQ groups are getting armed in the wake of the worst mass shooting in decades.

The Pink Pistols, a national gun club for gays and lesbians, wants their community to take up arms in self defense in the wake of a deadly shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Spokesperson Gwendolyn Patton, who argues that the LGBT community needs to exercise their Second Amendment rights in order to defend themselves, says the group saw membership soar from about 1,500 members before the Orlando shooting on Sunday to 3,500 on Monday.

The spike in interest comes after at least 49 people were killed and at least 53 were wounded when gunman, Omar Mateen opened fire and took hostages at a LGBT-friendly nightclub in Orlando last weekend. The massacre was the worst mass shooting in American history and Patton says the interest in LGBT gun rights is at an all-time high.

The Pink Pistols says they have gained 1,000 more members over the course of the week, putting their total membership at approximately 4,500. The group continues to see dozens of new chapters pop up across the country.

"We've had the greatest response in three areas, our Facebook page, which has tripled in size, our chapters, we have so many requests for information on starting new chapters I've lost count, and the sheer number of people offering services such as training to our members," Patton said.

The group claims 45 active chapters across 33 states in the U.S. and three more in other countries. Patton says that in addition to that there are many inactive chapters that may be reopening soon.

The Pink Pistols describes itself as "an international LGBT self-defense organization" that advocates for gay people to acquire concealed carry permits. Group activities include bringing in NRA-certified instructors to help train members at shooting ranges and engaging in political activism. Pink Pistols is generally made up of gun-loving LGBT individuals, but also includes straight ally members.

This isn't new in America or in history, people forget that the Black Panthers were very much advocates of black men arming themselves under the Second Amendment, and that thought certainly did not sit well with white America in the sixties.  California became one of the first states in the nation to pass gun control legislation specifically to stop them, as Huey Newton and Bobby Seale wanted an armed community watch in Oakland in order to stand as a counter racist police officers.

Fifty years later and frankly, that idea hasn't changed very much, so no, I don't begrudge people going through background checks and getting armed for protection.  I grew up in western NC, I understand people do that for a reason.

But let's be honest, the reason background checks for guns exist is because it was seen as a way to keep guns out of the hands of black men, like many regulations in US history, they were based on race.

You can't separate the two.

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