Gay Atlanta interested in guns after Orlando

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Gay gun enthusiasts are rallying in the wake of the Orlando gay bar massacre, restocking the membership ranks of an LGBT gun group in Atlanta, meeting inside a Buford Highway shooting range and explaining how gays can like guns so much.

Ten days after the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Atlanta chapter of Pink Pistols – national group with the slogan “Pick On Someone Your Own Caliber” – organized a meeting to revive the dormant group. They met June 22 in a classroom of Quickshot Buckhead – just a short distance from Club Rush, which hosts a long-standing LGBT Latin night on Fridays.

The Atlanta group had less than 50 members in its Facebook group before the June 12 massacre. Now, it counts 315 members. Via Reporter Newspapers:

Zak Koffler who lives in Decatur and works in Buckhead, frequents Quickshot Buckhead because of its location near his office. He’s been a member of the Atlanta Facebook group for the Pink Pistols for many years – but after the massacre in Orlando on June 12, the number of people joining the group has jumped significantly.

“After something like this [mass shooting] there is a need for people to band together, to defend themselves,” Koffler said. “It was shocking.”

Pink Pistols said its work is to help prevent tragedies like the one in Orlando from happening again. Via Reporter Newspapers:

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the international Pink Pistols, said the organization’s members grieve with the victims and their families.

“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,” she said in a statement.

“A human being did this. The human being’s tools are unimportant when compared to the bleakness of that person’s soul. Our job now is not to demonize the man’s tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future,” Patton said.

Ames Simmons, a former police officer and transgender member of HRC's board of directors, told WABE that it's not as curious as some might think that LGBT people embrace the Second Amendment and their right to bear arms.

There is a kind of natural fit between an interest in the Second Amendment and an almost libertarian streak for some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to Ames Simmons with Human Rights Campaign.

“Our whole history as a movement has been built upon rioting against civil authorities and asserting our right to be independent to what any government authority says we're entitled to or not,” Simmons said.

Dylan West (photo), who helped organize the Pink Pistols meeting last week, said the issue boils down to this: self-defense. Via WABE:

“There is no shortage of attacks against the LGBT community in history. We look decades back there have been arson attacks at bars down to one-on-one attacks constantly,” West said.  

At the meeting in Atlanta, when asked questions about gun-control demands floating in the cultural ether, West was wary of politicizing the group. It’s not a lobbying group, he told TV news cameras.

“However, as an organization, we are fully in favor of the Second Amendment, and we don’t want to see legislation put through that makes it harder for people to take advantage of their Second Amendment rights when it comes to self-defense and legal safe carry,” said West.


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