The Pink Pistols’ homepage states it succinctly: “We teach queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.”
Their motto: “Pick on someone your own caliber.”
The group, which advocates for gay Americans to carry firearms, just won a major victory on Tuesday: a federal judge in Washington halted enforcement of a portion of the city’s strict gun law, ordering Washington DC police to stop requiring residents to demonstrate they have “a good reason to fear injury,” which he ruled places “an unconstitutional burden” on citizens’ right to bear arms.
The Pink Pistols challenged the city’s requirement that a person who wants to carry a concealed handgun outside the home show he or she has a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or another “proper reason” for carrying the weapon.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon characterized the city’s law as an “understandable, but overly zealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible” citizens.
Charles Cooper, an attorney representing the shooting group, said Tuesday he was “really gratified” by the ruling.
On their website, The Pink Pistols write:
Armed queers don’t get bashed. 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. Those arms are also concealed, so they do not know which ones are safe to attack, and which are not…which they can harm as they have in the past, and which may draw a weapon and fight back.
Speaking to US News, Pink Pistols leader Gwen Patton explains her philosophy: “It’s been almost an automatic assumption that gay people won’t fight back, that they’re passive, they’re weak. We’re putting it out there that you don’t know which of the gay people out there are armed. … Don’t attack gay people because that could be a really bad decision.”
As it says on the website’s FAQ: “The Pink Pistols are the ones who have decided to no longer be safe targets. They have teeth. They will use them.”
So what exactly does the legal decision mean for gay people? Jimmy LaSalvia, a communications strategist, seems ambivalent in an interview with US News. LaSalvia was punched off his bicycle in 2011 from a teen who called him “faggot.” The group of thugs ran away when LaSalvia reached into his bag: “Does he have a gun…”
“I didn’t have a gun,” he admits. “But the kids who punched me weren’t sure if I did or not, and that was enough to disperse them and to stop the situation from escalating. There is a deterrence factor in there.”
After the attack, he did consider carrying a gun, but chose to carry pepper spray instead after carefully weighing the potential scenarios that could unfold if he chose to pack heat.
“I detemined having a loaded weapon wiht me all the time was too dangerous,” he says. “There are many things that are legal and should be legal in a free society, but it doesn’t mean you should do them. I certainly defend the rights of others to do so, I just don’t think it’s smart.”
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