Regardless of how you feel about the phenomenon of “Pride Month,” it’s a thing. It’s so much of a thing that the media is looking for reasons to report on the LGBT community at almost every opportunity. Couple this with all the attention on the Second Amendment and guns in general, along with the proximity to the anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, and you know someone is going to try to link the two.

And they did.

“I DON’T want to get beaten to death, stabbed and burnt alive,” a slight woman with long blond hair and a checked shirt says. “I want a gun to feel equal.”

She is a member of one of the United States’ fastest growing gun clubs, the jauntily named Pink Pistols.

Two years after the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are nervous. According to the Human Rights Centre (HRC), a US LGBTI advocacy group, 52 gay people were murdered in the US last year, because of their sexuality, and 28 transgender people met the same fate.

In increasing numbers, they are fighting back by taking up arms.

It’s brought them into lock-step with pro-gun groups that haven’t, historically, been all that welcoming of gay people.

Australian journalist Patrick Abboud travelled to the US to meet some of the new breed of gun-toting gays, for a report to be broadcast on SBS news show The Feedon Tuesday.

It was a sobering experience, he told news.com.au.

“There is one murder per week of a gay person. purely because they’re gay, and that’s really horrifying. The level of homophobia and transphobia in the USA is out of control and some people told me a gun is the difference between living and dying.”

The Pink Pistols have been nicknamed the “gay NRA,” a reference to the controversial National Rifle Association that is a staunch proponent of pro-gun laws.

First, I have to question the statistics given, though much of that is a kneejerk reaction to statistics from any leftist group these days. Far too many groups, probably on both sides, though I only seem to notice it from the left, seem far too willing to manipulate data to help “prove” a point. However, I think one is far too many murders, so it’s a quibble at best.

However, I’m fascinated by the claim that gun rights activists haven’t been welcoming of anyone historically.

When I’ve met up with fellow activists through the years, there’s been no questions about sexuality. No one has generally cared if you were straight, gay, or preferred to have sex with inanimate objects. As long as what you engaged with was consensual, no one gave a damn.

Instead, that’s how we’ve been portrayed by people who wouldn’t deign to speak with us for more than a few minutes, people who would then rush home to shower to remove the taint of having spoken with backwoods hicks like us.

However, I’m also someone who is unlikely to be targeted for any particular hate from the gun rights crowd. That meant I needed to reach out, so I contacted transgender gun rights activist Erin Palette.

Erin created Operation Blazing Sword in the immediate aftermath of the Pulse shooting. Its purpose was to connect the LGBT community with people who would help them select their first gun and teach them how to use it safely and effectively at no cost. I was one of the early volunteers, but others flooded in.

So what was Erin’s take on the article?

It’s wonderful to see the queer community beginning to shed its traditional distaste for firearm ownership. The Second Amendment is for all Americans, and self-defense is a human right.

Thinking of the Pink Pistols as the ‘Gay NRA’ is both incorrect and needlessly divisive. As the success of Operation Blazing Sword demonstrates, gun owners are happy to welcome anyone into their community so long as they believe in the right to keep and bear arms, and do so in a responsible and law-abiding manner. I have never felt unwelcome at an NRA event.

I have however been made to feel unwelcome by members of the queer community for owning guns, and that’s why the Pink Pistols exists: to support and encourage responsible gun ownership among people whose peers try to make it shameful. If our community stopped trying to name, shame and blame gun owners simply for exercising a constitutional right, there would be no need for the Pink Pistols at all; we would just be gun owners who happen to be queer.

Odd, isn’t it, that Erin’s experience comports completely with my own. I mean straight white dude and transgender woman see the exact same thing from the gun community?

It sounds to me a lot like the reporter, in this case, had a preconceived idea of the gun community in his head and decided to press forward with that. There’s no evidence presented of gun rights activists being homophobic or transphobic or any other kind of -phobic (though some of us will admit to arachnophobia. Spiders are creepy, man!). This could be described as “bigotry.” I’m sure he felt that there was no need to look for it because everyone knows.

Well, we don’t know any such thing.

While there may be jackwagons in the gun community, it’s not indicative of the community as a whole. Most of us are more concerned with our right to keep and bear arms than whether the guy defending that right while standing beside us is into guys, girls, or identifies as female. While many of us have opinions on any number of other subjects, we’re welcoming of all who support our right to keep and bear arms within these ranks.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t volunteered for Operation Blazing Sword, you should do so. They’re also a recognized non-profit, and in dire need of funds, so please feel free to donate.