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.
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.
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."
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."