The Pink Pistols, a national organization dedicated to educating sexual minorities about proper gun usage and safety, has released a statement regarding the recent mass shooting in Orlando. First Speaker of the Pink Pistols, Gwendolyn Patton, made a public plea to the LGBT community urging them to avoid hastily jumping into the swath of anti-gun rhetoric made popular by mass shootings:
“The Pink Pistols gives condolences to all family and friends of those killed and injured at Pulse. 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.”
This statement comes as a direct response to a mass shooting incident in Orlando’s Pulse, the self-described “hottest gay bar in the city.” The suspect behind the crime was identified as Omar Mateen by the Orlando Police. The shooting, which took place at around 2:00 AM Eastern Time, killed 50 and injured more than 50 others. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.
The Pink Pistols have over 45 chapters in the United States. Chapters meet monthly to practice shooting, and offer their educational service to all individuals. Per the organization’s official FAQ editorial, The Pink Pistols are dedicated to “(teaching) queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.”
“A human being did this,” Gwendolyn continued. “The human being’s tools are unimportant when compared to the bleakness of that person’s soul. I say again, GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being.”
Violence is an epidemic, but guns are not the problem. The Pink Pistols realize this, and are coordinating efforts to end hate crimes directed towards the LGBT community. Taking adequate measures to protect oneself is not a radical objective, and it certainly isn’t unrealistic. While emotions are still stirring in the wake of a tragedy that claimed more than 50 lives, it should be noted with importance that gun violence is actually far lower now than his has been in previous years, and still decreasing. Educational efforts put forth by groups like the Pink Pistols will help raise public awareness of the violence the LGBT community still faces, and also create a more defensible environment for the LGBT community as a whole.