Gays with Guns: A Growing Subculture?

by Shaun Knittel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday May 25, 2013

Gays and guns seem as likely to go together as Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. As a culture, even under attack, we are a peaceful lot -- you catch more bees with honey, right?

"Wrong," says Gwendolyn Patton of Pink Pistols, a group that advocates gun ownership for the LGBT community. With taglines like "pick on someone your own caliber," and "armed gays don't get bashed," Patton says Pink Pistols changes the perception that gay people are easy victims.

"We teach queers to shoot, and then we teach the rest of the world we've done it," Patton told WBEZ91.5, a public radio station in Chicago. "Because then they may think twice about using (LGBT people) as a target."

Doug Krick, a libertarian activist from Illinois founded the Pink Pistols in July 2000 while living in Massachusetts. The organization now has 60 chapters in 33 states and three countries. The group's activities include firing range visits, political activism and will occasionally produce report cards on politicians; rating them on their position on issues of interest to members. Other than that, little is known about the organization and it's even difficult to know just how big the Pink Pistols movement is because the organization doesn't keep a national count.

While some might roll their eyes, advocates like Chuck Michel, a spokesman for the California Rifle and Pistol Association and a lawyer for the National Rifle Association, does not. In fact, in 2005, at the height of the Proposition H ordinance debate, which gained national attention for seeking to ban the otherwise legal ownership and sales of firearms in San Francisco, Michel said Pink Pistols played a critical role in the gun owner rights fight.

"They have a great deal of legitimacy because they recognize they are at great odds of becoming victims because of their sexual preference ... I think people will understand that they should not be deprived of their rights," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Despite Pink Pistols' efforts to convince voters that Proposition H was unconstitutional, the measure was passed in 2005 and banned the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco. But the group saw victory when the measure was brought up before the Supreme Court and the justices ruled that Proposition H as unlawful.

Wins like that can galvanize a movement and the Pink Pistols are not shy about the direction their movement is headed.

"Thirty-one states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons," Pink Pistols officials say in a post on their website, "In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces; sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible."

Another aggressive pro-gun/pro-gay group, appropriately named, offers a free downloadable flyer with a picture of Matthew Shepard on it, which reads, "The notion that Matthew Shepard tied to a fence post in the middle of a freezing Wyoming night, tortured and beaten to death, is morally superior to Matthew Shepard explaining to the local sheriff how his attackers got all those bullet holes."

"If Matthew Shepard carried a concealed gun and had basic safety training the outcome would likely been very different," continues the statement on the Gay with Guns flyer. "With the alarming number of Gay/LBT hate crimes owning a gun and learning how to use it right may just save a life. Maybe even YOURS! The right to self-defense is a basic human right."

According to the Pink Pistols' site, the group gets "together at least once a month at local firing ranges to practice shooting, and to acquaint people new to firearms with them. We will help you select a firearm, acquire a permit, and receive proper training in its safe and legal use for self-defense. The more people know that members of our community may be armed, the less likely they will be to single us out for attack."

There is no evidence to back up these claims, however. Gun ownership used to protect against hate crimes is rare and gay gun ownership used to protect against hate crimes is even more rare.

Gays with Guns website, however, links to a subreddit page called the Defensive Gun Use (DGU), which is dedicated to cataloging incidents in the U.S. where legally-owned guns are used to deter or stop violent crimes. DGU posts at least one news article per day, which adds some validity to their claims. A recent article titled, "Man, 64, Dies in Shootout With Mom" told the story of an 84-year-old woman who allegedly shot her son in self-defense.

It is important to note, however, DGU did not suggest that any of the reports they detailed involved members of the LGBT community. Nevertheless, the message is resonating with some LGBT people who feel they need to protect themselves and Pink Pistols and Gays With Guns have partnered with the National Association for Gun Rights, Firearms Policy Coalition, The Liberal Gun Club and more.

Though Pink Pistols and Gays With Guns may be the biggest and most vocal pro-gay/pro-gun groups, they aren't the only LGBT gun advocacy groups out there., which hosts Big Gay Al's Big Gay (Gun) Blog and is linked to the coordinator of the Michigan Pink Pistols group, states the Michigan Pink Pistols are a "GLBT and kink friendly, shooting sports group."

The blog is scarcely updated, sometimes months pass without a single post, but when Blogger Big Gay Al does update the site, his posts have the same rhetoric as the other groups. Big Gay Al says his website is, "mostly about guns and gun rights, open and concealed carry, and sometimes about other things, and it's so GAY!"

In a post titled, "A plea to Scouts: Don't let the 'bad guys' win," Big Gay Al laments about the people who give conservatives a bad name and then advises, "Take my advice, you're a known member of your local LGBT community, legally arm yourself. Start a Pink Pistols Chapter in your area. Learn how to use your weapon of choice. Get a license to carry if required where you live, and make sure you keep on living."

Although most of these sites aren't regularly managed, it would seem that the number of gays owning guns and being vocal about their Second Amendment rights is growing. On, officials promote recruitment: "It is highly recommended that individuals find a couple of friends to assist them before they start the process of opening a chapter." Pink Pistols goes on to explain that while one person can start a new chapter, "it is far more difficult than starting one with the help of two or three others." The site also notes that you don't even have to be gay to join.

"We include members from the GLBT, Polyamarous, and BDSM communities, but you don't need to be gay or have an alternative sexuality to join and shoot with us," Pink Pistols says. "We like to say that we are FOR the sexual minority community, but not exclusively OF it. We welcome anybody."

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.


  • gdhamf, 2013-05-25 06:17:37


  • , 2013-05-25 08:46:10

    A point of clarification: The Michigan Pink Pistols is a chapter of the National Pink Pistols organization.

  • WayGay, 2013-05-25 11:51:58

    And if the NRA can make money on this they will be all over it.

  • , 2013-05-25 20:25:37

    Well. Guns exist, ain’t going away. Responsible people deserve rights, period.

  • , 2013-05-25 20:34:48

    As much as I detest the gay lifestyle, they deserve the right to protect themselves like any one else....Right on!

  • Louis William Rose, 2013-05-25 21:01:53

    Hear Hear! As a right wing libertarian Christian who things homosexuality is both a choice and a sin, I hope everyone in the LGBT community arms themself to the teeth! I support their civil rights to be who they want to be, even if they are wrong, and to be secure in their persons and their rights to life, liberty, and property.

  • Joe in N. Calif., 2013-05-25 21:40:47

    Got news for Anonymous, 2013-05-25 11:51:58 - many NRA Members Councils support Pink Pistols and help provide training. Constitutionally protected civil rights belong to everyone, not just a political elite. What I find somewhat ironic is that some of the gays I have trained to use firearms were more afraid of letting their gay friends know that they were gun owners than they were of letting those evil, bigoted, knuckle-dragging, redneck gun owners know they were gay.

  • , 2013-05-25 21:58:37

    If they value their gun rights they need to stop voting for Demoncraps. Demoncraps = Loss of Second Amendment Rights

  • , 2013-05-25 23:58:21

    We’re not all folk music-loving cliches! I may be considered a "gun nut" by a lot of my peers, but I’d rather be alive and misunderstood than a dead political pawn. Self-defense is a beautiful thing.

  • , 2013-05-26 00:50:50

    It would be great to see the gay community use their excellent political action skills to begin to cause a paradigm shift in the gun debate. The way it is now, the Left has done an excellent job at painting all gun owners as...well you know the image.

  • , 2013-05-26 00:52:48

    I’m a heterosexual conservative man and firmly believe that law abiding citizens of any orientation... race or other group should be armed and trained in the use of their firearm. Law abiding gay people have the same rights and responsibilities of gun ownership as all should have. That’s only common sense.

  • , 2013-05-26 02:43:26

    So, if you’re gay, communist, and like guns, you can join the Gay Communist Gun Club. The late great, much lamented Phil Hartman....

  • , 2013-05-26 03:02:21

    I neither support or agree in anyway with the LGBT. I think its a choice and I am quite frankly sick of being told that I have to accept it as normal. That said.. I don’t like how they get picked on and targeted by violence. I have a family member that is gay and I would be upset to see him picked on or beat up because of his choice. Its your choice to be gay (I support that one should have the choice - I just think its the wrong choice) and I really support anyone (to include LGBT) in their choice to arm themselves!

  • Unbreakable1, 2013-05-26 08:08:57

    Thank you for support on the gun issue but why are so many of you anti gay individuals on this website? Secondly for those of you who think its a choice, when did you make a conscious decision to be straight? I think perhaps you didn’t. You were just attracted to someone of the opposite sex. We did not chose to be gay, we were born with an attraction for the same sex. It’s not rocket science, but plain common sense.

  • , 2013-05-26 08:39:25

    I have to question the blatant use of Matthew Shepherd in gun promotion. Matthew was martyred by unscrupulous people with nothing more than hate and misunderstanding, much like Jesus Christ was during the passion. So my question here is, that after the crucification, did the early faithful of Gods teachings use Jesus’s death as a promo to start packing knives and weaponry to protect themselves?

  • , 2013-05-26 08:51:46

    Unbreakable1, the answer is the link from Drudge Report. As a conservative, straight father of 6 (including one gay son), I agree with every word of your comment. Please welcome straight conservatives because, as THINKING individuals, they will soon conclude that your comments about not "choosing" to be gay are spot on. Hard-wired sexual attraction is NOT chosen (surely not MINE), only our actions in response to it. Remember how the Democrat-founded KKK worked to disarm southern blacks back in the bad-old-days? Here’s hoping the liberals don’t succeed in disarming today’s GLBT community, denying them the self-protection that is their right!

  • , 2013-05-26 09:09:40

    There is something deeply sinister afoot with the disarming of Americans, or the desire to do so by the elite. Push back every chance you get. Also, you non straights have a lot in common with true conservatives: we keep our mouths shut at union hall meetings, universities, theater groups... Safer and quieter in the closet. Don’t get your truck smashed, tools thrown in the river: vote democrat! Thugs abound. Good on ya for protecting yourself.

  • , 2013-05-26 09:54:15

    I shoot guns with some gay folks. Good people. Aunt nobody "gay bashing" these dudes. They should be welcomed with open arms in the shooting community. Keep reaching for that rainbow brothers as sisters! We support you!

  • , 2013-05-26 10:35:34

    ALL people should be permitted (with appropriate background check to weed out crazies and criminals) to carry a weapon. It is good that the gay community, which tends generally to be liberal, realizes the wisdom of protecting onesself against violent thugs. Guaranteed, the first of second time a gay person uses a gun to ptotect themselves, the number of gay attacks will plummet. Bigots are not totally stupid. Any attempt to politicize this common sense approach to a real problem should be shunned. If the Pink Pistols can put their efforts into persuading their fellow gays, they do not need to care about what "others" may think. Just DO IT! NOTE: Straight conservative NRA member. One gay daughter.

  • , 2013-05-26 10:41:34

    don’t believe gay lifestyle is morally right , never will. having said that , i believe ever gay man or women should be pro active in there self defense . there being trageted for verbal , or physical abuse of any kind is wrong . had that poor kid in wyoming had a gun and the lives of what i considered a waste of good air been ended , then two thumbs up.

  • , 2013-05-26 11:38:55

    Gay since about five years old (if my memories are chronologically accurate), Eagle Scout, 12 years military service, now own four pistols, two shotguns (including a Saiga 12) and eight rifles (four of which qualify as cosmetic assault rifles). Two things I will never be is a weak, compliant victim or a Democrat.

  • WayGay, 2013-05-26 11:41:22

    OMG how funny- look how the gun nuts have jumped all over this thread. They are so freaking predictable they have no idea what a punch line they are. I’d love to see the 2nd amendment go away. I’d live to see a HUGE registry of gun owners and I’d LOVE every single bullet to be taxed, and be very very expensive. I’d love to see a tracking device on every weapon. How funny the NRA skulks about even a gay website to forward their demented views. And so tactful- we hate the ’gay lifestyle’ and bla bla bla but defend our right to have a gun. Go home losers. I just hope the next massacre hits you NRA idiots closer to home.

  • WayGay, 2013-05-26 11:47:22

    It’s so pathetic these morons think they have to arm themselves for the tyranny. Like your home militia could repel an army at their door. I’m sure one drone could trump your gun collection against tyranny. You gun fanatic guys are pawns convinced to buy buy buy. Keep ’em scared and keep ’em stupid yields billions of dollars of profit. That’s all it is.

  • , 2013-05-26 18:47:04

    Anonymous, 2013-05-26 11:38:55, if you’re paying attention, I’d like to correspond. Perhaps you have a junk email address or another idea?

  • , 2013-05-28 13:51:39

    Awesome trainer. Haven’t gotten to his classes yet, but he’s an definite ’up & coming’ instructor who is making a name for himself with good instruction.

  • , 2013-05-29 13:07:33

    The more people know that members of our community may be armed, the less likely they will be to single us out for attack." ....sounds eerily what the 2nd amendment proponents have been saying for years

  • Joe in N. Calif., 2013-05-29 20:50:49

    "Anonymous, 2013-05-26 11:47:22 It’s so pathetic these morons think they have to arm themselves for the tyranny. Like your home militia could repel an army at their door. I’m sure one drone could trump your gun collection against tyranny. You gun fanatic guys are pawns convinced to buy buy buy. Keep ’em scared and keep ’em stupid yields billions of dollars of profit. That’s all it is. " Ah...buying into the latest lie dictated by Kos and HuffPo. Strange, don’t you think that Pres. Kennedy said: ""By calling attention to ’a well regulated militia,’ ’the security of the nation,’ and the right of each citizen ’to keep and bear arms,’ our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy... The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important." John F. Kennedy, Junior Senator of MA in a 1959 letter to E.B. Mann [From the 1974 Gun Digest, article titled Gun Laws] And "The Happy Warrior," Hubert Humphrey said,: "Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible." Sen. Hubert Humphrey, Know Your Lawmakers, Guns Magazine, Page 4, Feb. 1960. Seems like some of the last true Democrats - those who believed in the sanctity and dignity of the individual, rather than subsuming the individual into just a speck in a group, disagree with you. " Anonymous, 2013-05-29 13:07:33 The more people know that members of our community may be armed, the less likely they will be to single us out for attack." ....sounds eerily what the 2nd amendment proponents have been saying for years" Kind of amazing that those intolerant bitter clingers make sense, isn’t it? Most of us don’t really give a rats behind who or what you sleep with, and we really don’t need to be told 30 seconds after being introduced that you are homosexual, bi, ambi, trans, a, or whatever. Just support all our civil rights and be safe on the firing line. When a regular at the local indoor range started wearing dresses and heels - and the guy was about 6’ 3" and weighed 320 if he weighed a pound - no one gave him any grief about it, other than to gig him about his horrendous taste in clothing (really didn’t suit his skin or hair color).

  • , 2013-05-30 00:00:56

    Gays tend to fear bashing from the religious redneck set, but don’t ever forget that the Nazis had concentration camp uniforms made up just for them - where the Jews had little yellow stars to identify them, gays had little pink triangles. There is always the cry of "that can’t happen here!" To that I answer with calling attention to Germany again - from the late 1800’s to the 1990’s - not much more than the span of one long human life, the area we now know as Germany went from being multiple small states, to a monarchy, to a parliamentary democracy, to a Facist dictatorship, to a divided pair of pawns in the U.S./U.S.S.R. game of brinkmanship to the nation we know today. Anybody who lived through those times supporting any single one of those governments would have been wanted DEAD by one of the others. Governments are made of people, and people run in subcultures. Only two things are needed for a successful genocide - one subculture needs to gain power and the folks in the subculture they don’t like need to be disarmed. This is coffee the gay community needs to wake up and smell. A great many members of minority groups in 1940’s Europe were enslaved, starved, tortured, gassed, and cremated because they lacked the means to say "NO!" effectively. Once they have that through their heads, they can work from within to pry the Democratic Party away from their support of gun control. Gun rights are civil rights, and they protect not only from the drunk and hateful criminals, but the ones wearing suits with 51% of the vote as well.

  • , 2013-06-11 01:09:27

    I’m not gay, but it’s every citizen’s right. It’s about time some in the LGBT community stopped supporting a nonsense anti-citizen Orwellian issue. Maybe we can get the community to stop supporting Dem BS that works against all of the rest of us too!

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