LGBTQ+ gun group takes aim at the far-right’s violent threats

LGBTQ+ gun group takes aim at the far-right’s violent threats
Photo: screenshot youtube

“Gun rights are for everyone.”

So says Fin Smith, a trans gun rights advocate and gun enthusiast who sees the right to bear arms as a last defense against authoritarianism aimed at the queer community.

“Any law that would disarm anyone no matter how reasonable can be used unreasonably against us,” says Smith, who goes by the Twitter handle Queer Armorer. “Because they are coming to make just existing as us the problem.”

Smith runs Rainbow Reload, an LGBTQ+ gun club based in New Hampshire, where they produce firearms instruction videos, news, and gaming streams, living by an amended state motto, “Live Free or F**king Die.”  

On a recent gun club outing to Pawtuckaway State Park, Smith told New Hampshire Public Radio, “If the world is dangerous, then you have to be dangerous back,” adding, “and that very much has pushed me to where I am now.”

Proud Boys, neo-Nazis, and other armed vigilantes have emerged as a clear and present danger in the far-right’s culture war on drag queens, trans people, and others in the queer community. In 2022 alone, these groups targeted at least 124 drag shows for protests and harassment, many times appearing with weapons. For Smith and members of other LGBTQ+ gun clubs like the Pink Pistols — which has 45 chapters across the U.S. — guns are not a partisan issue.

“I mean, if you go far enough left, you get your guns back,” said Guardian, a Rainbow Reload member whose own slogan is “Make Racists Afraid Again.”

“I want people to feel safe, to be safe, to be who they are,” he said on the makeshift gun range in the snow that Smith had set up. “It’s not a matter of politics. It’s a matter of whether or not you think certain people should get to live, and be their genuine selves.”

A UCLA study from 2020 indicated 21.5 percent of LGBTQ+ households maintained a firearm, compared to 36 percent of their straight counterparts. About the same number of Democrats as LGBTQ+ people own a gun — 20 percent — while almost half of Republicans do, according to the Rand Corporation.

“I went from concealed carry every once in a while when I was feeling it to every single day,” said Navy vet Sharon, who transitioned last year. “There are people that just looking at me will want to hurt me.”

“There’s been an uptick in hate crimes, there’s been an uptick in groups that have been protesting drag story times and drag shows, and it felt like I needed to learn how to protect myself,” said Jamie, a self-described left-leaning trans woman who chose Rainbow Reload over other local rod and gun clubs for the like-minded company.

“Having to hide your identity when you are shooting with a group of people isn’t really a great time,” she says.

LGBTQ+ gun groups stand in contrast to Gays Against Guns (GAG), a direct-action protest group advocating for a multi-pronged approach to gun safety in order to “Thwart the life-threatening convergence of homophobia and flawed gun policy.”

Last June, GAG held a rally in remembrance of the Pulse Massacre & every mass shooting since 2016. GAG’s co-founder also spoke out after the 2022 Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs.

Among GAG’s goals are legislation “to ban access to high-capacity magazine guns and assault weapons, create stricter background checks for gun owners, close the loophole that allows sales of weapons at gun shows without background checks, ban gun sales via the internet, and block people on the FBI watch-list from purchasing guns.”

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