A nationwide gun club geared towards the LGBT community has reportedly seen its membership more than double following Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Pink Pistols, a 16-year-old organization that boasts dozens of chapters nationwide, went from having about 1,500 members Saturday to 3,500 Monday — an exponential increase that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Sunday morning massacre that left 49 patrons of Pulse nightclub dead and dozens more injured, Denver’s Fox News affiliate reported Thursday.
On its website, the group says its “dedicated to the legal, safe and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community,” and currently boasts 45 branches in 21 states. According to Fox, however, “dozens” of new chapters are being launched, including one in nearby Colorado Springs.
“I look at it as a disenfranchised minority that needs someone who’s willing to say I’m a resource who’s here and willing to help,” said Mike Smith, a heterosexual firearms instructor who told the Fox affiliate that he felt compelled to help the LGBT community in the wake of this weekend’s tragedy.
“You walk into a gun shop and you expect to see people, frankly, who look like me,” he said. “I think we forget we’re a country of all people, not just people who fit that predetermined mold.”
Denver firearms dealer George Horne told the station that his shop, The Gun Room, has seen business quadruple in the days following Sunday’s attack.
“We’re not surprised by it,” Mr. Horne said.
More than 1,300 miles away in Atlanta, Dylan West, a member of the Pink Pistol’s local Facebook group, said he’s seen firsthand how Sunday’s mass shooting has made members of the LGBT community there express an interest for the first time in gun safety.
“This group of people were targeted because of their sexuality — because they were members of the LGBT community,” he told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate. “And I think that’s the driving factor.”
“I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me and ask if I could help them learn how to shoot and to learn the safety mechanisms,” he added. “How to get started.”
A representative for Pink Pistols did not immediately return The Washington Times’ request for comment Thursday. Earlier in the week, the group said in a statement that Sunday’s attack “is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence.”