BY BTL STAFF
After a shooter killed 50 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June, Obama and lawmakers across the nation called for stricter gun laws.
An LGBT advocacy group called the Pink Pistols thinks that rather than place restrictions on gun sales, members of the gay community should arm themselvesfor protection against hate crimes.
One of the group’s latest factions opened in Orlando, just a few hours away from the Port St. Lucie gun store where gunman Omar Mateen legally purchased two firearms.
The man — who later identified himself as an ISIS sympathizer — passed a background check and had multiple security licenses.
This was after another Florida gun store reported Mateen as suspicious to the FBI when he requested body armor and ammunition.
Despite losing her housemate Frankie to one of Mateen’s bullets, Maria Rodriguez, 50, is a staunch Second Amendment supporter.
“I will not go against banning guns even after what happened at Pulse. Although it touched me deeply I think that you should be able to protect yourself,” Rodriguez told Barcroft Media.
“I think it would have helped him if more people that were in Pulse had a gun because it would had been more protection for them. I think it would have been over quicker and not be so devastating.”
The Pink Pistols was originally started in 2000 after there was a surge in hate crimes in the LGBT community. After Pulse, NRA certified instructor Jo Martin, started her own faction in Orlando in August last year. The group educates members on proper gun use and self-defense.
Jo Martin, NRA certified instructor and founder of the Florida faction of Pink Pistols. Photo courtesy of Barcroft Images
“After Pulse, the LGBT community — in addition to the non LGBT community in this area — was pretty badly affected because it happened right here and people that we knew were affected by it directly, so it did have a major impact,” Martin told Barcroft.
“One positive thing to come from such a negative event was that people have really come together and whether they were LGBT or not people were really helping each other out and I think that has carried forward as well,” she added.
Martin – who is originally from Scotland – carries a gun everywhere she is able. In Florida, it is legal for civilians to carry a concealed gun. She believes that in a perfect world no one would need guns but thinks that criminals will break the law whether they’re armed or not. She wants to be ready for the worst.
“I pray I never need to use it but I do have that knowledge if I do need to and that’s one of the reasons I am involved in Pink Pistols; because we want to share that knowledge so that other people have that level of confidence as well,” Martin told Barcroft.
Jeremy Williams, who works for an LGBT magazine in Orlando, believes the classes offered by members of the Pink Pistols are valuable for gun owners and non-gun owners.
“I think it is very important for anybody, whether they intend to carry a gun or not to take a course like the one being offered by Pink Pistols because having the knowledge, I mean having education on anything does not hurt anybody,” Williams told Barcroft.
“I don’t know if America would be safer if guns were banned altogether because they are out there so that would have been a question to propose back when the nation was first starting and guns were at their infancy. But I think there are just too many guns out there to look at that as a viable way of keeping America safe,” he added.