LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An LGBTQ gun club reported that it has seen a spike in membership in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead last summer.
According to Pink Pistols, its West Hollywood chapter has grown to more than 300 members since the June attack.
A newly opened North Hollywood chapter now has 33 members. There are 9,000 members nationwide.
The website reads: “We teach queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so. Armed queers don’t get bashed.”
For Nicki Stallard, who identifies as a transgender woman, the decision to become conversant in using firearms was about feeling more secure.
“This makes noise. This calls for help may be,” she said while holding up a pink whistle. “This makes more noise. This is help,” she said while pointing a handgun upward at an Artesia shooting range.
“I don’t want to ever harm someone,” Pink Pistols member Jonathan Fischer said. “But if it’s between myself or my husband getting hurt or killed, I wouldn’t even hesitate to use lethal force on someone.”
It’s a sentiment shared by other members.
“I actually like the fact that there’s people that are doing this longer and better trained than me and more experienced with firearms,” said Pink Pistols member Conor McGarry.
Anti-gun activists countered that members of the LGBTQ community should defend themselves with non-lethal weapons.
But Stallard, McGarry and other Pink Pistols members said the only way to be in the battle is with the great equalizer.
“I’d rather die on my feet fighting than just to be picked off on my knees, cowering,” Stallard said.
There are, of course, many limits to how and where those guns can be carried.
Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011 signed a bill prohibiting gun owners from openly carrying their weapons in public.