The Pink Pistols is a US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender gun club, where members of the LGBT community can practise the safe, and legal use of firearms used for self-defence. Describing themselves as "a shooting group that honours diversity" Pink Pistols has more than 45 chapters nationwide, with more starting up every day. Members meet at local firing ranges at least once a month to practise shooting. Those who are not familiar with weapons, or are new to the group can select and buy guns and ammunition.

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Participants work on proper gun handling during a firearms training class attended by members of the Pink PistolsJim Urquhart/ Reuters

Matt Schlentz, who is president of Pink Pistols' Salt Lake City chapter, and also a professional body piercer, explained that members of the LGBT community feel more at risk of being a victim of a hate crime or violent assault, with the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, confirming their concerns. "Every gay person, every lesbian, every transgender, everybody in-between and every street person, we all know someone who has been the victim of a crime, a hate crime or some type of violent assault," he said.

Gun violence has remained in the forefront of national conversation since the Orlando shootings. Last week alone, two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were killed by police.

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Damien Chee (L) and Skylar Simon practise drawing their weapons during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters

One day after the Orlando shootings, the number of Pink Pistols members more than doubled, from 1,500 to more than 4,000. The club now has more than 8,000 members. "Orlando, being the largest mass shooting in American history and pointed at gays, I think it was a huge eye-opener for people," Schlentz told Reuters. "The world is not a perfect place, and we need to take safety into our own hands."

Pink Pistols
Participants prepare to shoot at targets during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters

Using the motto "Pick On Someone Your Own Calibre" the Pink Pistols strive to change the public perception of the sexual minorities. The website explains that many people in the past have seen them as easy targets, but that they will "realise that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms". Schlentz expects membership of Pink Pistols to keep growing and hopes an incident like Orlando will not happen again. "With a community of LGBT people who are arming themselves," he said, "I think people are going to think twice, at least a little bit more."

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Skylar Simon shoots at targets during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Instructors work with participants on proper gun handling during a firearms training class attended by members of the Pink PistolsJim Urquhart/ Reuters
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Mallory Washburn shoots at targets during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Participants shoot at targets during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
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Salt Lake City Pink Pistols chapter president Matt Schlentz loads a magazine of ammunition during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
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Firearms instructor Dan Hood demonstrates gun handling during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
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Firearms instructor Dan Hood (L) discusses weapons handling during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
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Skylar Simon and his partner, Salt Lake City Pink Pistols chapter president Matt Schlentz, walk down a range together duringJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Salt Lake City Pink Pistols chapter president Matt Schlentz (L) and his partner Skylar Simon look at a targetJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Salt Lake City Pink Pistols chapter president Matt Schlentz (L) is followed by firearms instructor Dan Hood during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Participants shoot at targets during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Salt Lake City Pink Pistols chapter president Matt Schlentz practises his draw during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters
Pink Pistols
Participants practise weapon handling during a firearms training classJim Urquhart/ Reuters