The Pink Pistols, the first gay gun-rights organization — no, don't laugh, self-defense is for everyone — has now merged with a newer but similarly oriented group. Inevitably, there was speechifying:
Effective immediately, the Pink Pistols have merged into Operation Blazing Sword. This is the culmination of a process which began last year when Gwen Patton, then First Speaker for the Pink Pistols, joined our Board of Directors to oversee the merger. Now that Operation Blazing Sword and the Pink Pistols are legally one entity, Ms. Patton has stepped down from her position as First Speaker and has ceded that privilege and responsibility to me. She will however stay on as a Member of our Board; she has a wealth of knowledge and experience that comes from 18 years of working with the Pink Pistols, especially filing many judicial amicus briefs for some very high-profile cases, such as: DC v. Heller; Peruta v. San Diego County; and Grace & Pink Pistols v. DC. Ms. Patton’s advice will be welcome for as long as she wishes to give it, and even though she has serious health problems, I hope she is around to advise me for many more years.
Effective immediately, I am now in charge of the Pink Pistols at the national level. Each leader of the organization chooses their own title, and the title which I have selected for myself is “Coordinator”. This choice reflects my belief that the current dispersed and disorganized nature of the Pink Pistols has outlasted its purpose. When the Pink Pistols were created, being outed as queer could result in losing one's job or worse, and so by design there were no member lists which could be subpoenaed and no central organization which could be suborned or influenced. Unfortunately, this also meant that each chapter was on its own and could not expect help from the organization as a whole. If a chapter wanted to host an event such as a concealed carry class, then members of that chapter would need to raise that money themselves or else that event would not happen. While that dissociated structure may have been necessary 20 years ago, in today’s social media world, the ability to connect with others is crucial. Because Operation Blazing Sword is a 501c3 tax deductible charity, we can solicit funds at the national level to help a chapter rent a booth at a Pride Festival, buy ammunition for a range day, or hold a community seminar.
Effective immediately, we are now the largest queer pro-gun group in the country. While there are only 55 active Pink Pistol chapters in North America, there are an estimated 30,000 members across those chapters. Furthermore, there are also over 1,600 Operation Blazing Sword volunteer instructors across America, in every single state and in every major metropolitan area. All of our volunteers are eager to teach and are queer-friendly, and many of those volunteer instructors are themselves queer or have family members who are queer.
On a personal note, I am thrilled that our two organizations are now one. I was a Pink Pistol before I created Operation Blazing Sword, and in the days after the Pulse Massacre, when I realized just how huge my little project might become, I asked Gwen if she wanted to take control of it. She declined, due to being extremely busy talking with the media and dealing with the sudden influx of new Pistols, but she told me that my project was in good hands and that, if possible, we would later join up. As it turns out, we DID join up later, albeit later than either of us expected, and in a manner that neither of us foresaw.
With this merger, we have now become the organization that I hoped we could be: with Operation Blazing Sword being a program for outreach, education and training; and Pink Pistols being a program for community involvement, mutual support and continuing education. It is my wish that those people who have received Operation Blazing Sword training and who decide to become gun owners then go on to either join a Pink Pistols chapter or form one in their area. Since we are now the same organization, both groups will have my full support in this regard, and each group has resources that the other will find helpful in completing their mission of education, of safety, and of community.
After all, the most powerful Sword is the one wielded by two hands.
She's not kidding about the Pulse massacre, either; the Pistols increased their number threefold within a week of the killings. Still, the new organization doesn't have an obvious niche: Patton once said that "the Pink Pistols tend to get a better response from firearms supporters than from homosexuals." Go figure.
Disclosure: Erin Palette is a personal friend.
25 September 2018