Traditionally, the gun community is thought of as being a boys’ club, a homogenous group consisting of conservative-leaning, straight men. But that is changing. New polls and studies show that groups long considered to be pro-gun control are now increasingly becoming pro-gun:
Nicki Stallard, a 52-year-old, San Jose, CA, medical technician started the Pink Pistols 11 years ago, a group that teaches homosexual men and women how to shoot a firearm.
Their motto is, “Armed gays don’t get bashed.”
Currently the group boasts roughly 1,500 members across 29 chapters. And it’s continuing to grow despite the fact that proselytizing gun rights to the gay community can be a bit of an uphill battle.
Stallard, explained this phenomenon to Bloomberg News in an interview, “Many people in gun culture are anti-gun, so as a reflex, the gays are anti-gun. It isn’t logical, it’s emotional.”
“I accept that the gay-rights movement began in nonviolence, and I believe in nonaggression,” Stallard added. “But if in adopting a posture of nonviolence you make yourself a target for a sociopath, that’s not right. Violence is ugly, but if my life is on the line I will protect myself.”
The Pink Pistols are being featured in a documentary called “Arming Laramie” (as in Laramie, Wyoming, the place where Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1988). The film in many ways is a call to arms for gays.
Here’s the trailer:
David Bendory is an Orthodox rabbi living in Livingston, NJ. He is also the leader of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a pro-gun organization with 4,500 members.
But he wasn’t always pro-gun. He told Bloomberg that growing up, in a liberal-leaning household, guns were “an anathema.” But after spending some time in Israel, his stance began to soften.
Then, following the attacks on 9/11, his conversion to the pro-gun side was expedited.
“I worked across the street from Ground Zero,” he told Bloomberg, “and I thought, ‘The same terrorism Israel has fought for years has come to America.’ I wondered what we needed to do to defend ourselves here.”
The answer was obvious, to become a law-abiding gun owner.
Now, he preaches the gospel of gun ownership to his tribe.
“I ask Jews all the time, ‘Are you prepared for an active shooter in a synagogue?’” Bendory told Bloomberg. “‘What would you do?’ The common answer is ‘I’d dial 911.’ So I ask, ‘And what would you do until the police got there? Hide?’ They don’t have a good answer for that. I believe we are woefully unprepared for such an attack.”
Robin Natanel is a Buddhist and a self-described “spiritual person.” She teaches Tai Chi and in her classes expresses the benefits of meditation.
She is also the proud owner of a Walther PK380.
However, she wasn’t a gun enthusiast from the start. “I’d never considered a gun,” Natanel told Bloomberg. “I thought they were scary. I wanted nothing to do with them. I didn’t think anyone should have them.”
But much like the aforementioned folks, she went through a conversion that was born out of both necessity and a willingness to take personal responsibility for her safety.
A few years ago, an ex-boyfriend broke into her home when she wasn’t there. Afterward she became terrified for her life. She even bought pepper spray and programmed the local police number on her cell phone’s speed dial.
And although those responses helped to chip away at the fear, it wasn’t until she became a licensed and trained gun owner that she began to feel in control of her situation.
Now she has a different outlook on life. She told Bloomberg, “I wake up every day saying, ‘Please, I never want to shoot.’ But make no mistake about it — you try to hurt me and you’re done.”
Going back 20 years ago, 51% of women favored banning handguns. Now, that number is at a record low 31%, a Gallup poll reported back in October. Additionally, the poll “which has tracked gun attitudes since 1959, documented a record-low 43 percent who favor making it more difficult to acquire guns and record-high numbers of women and Democrats saying there is a firearm at home. Forty-seven percent said someone in the household owns at least one gun, the highest reading in 18 years.”
What has caused this change in perspective?
The Bloomberg report (which I recommend you all read) stated that “the surge has been propelled by shifting politics and demographics that have made it easier and more acceptable than at any time in 75 years for Americans to buy and carry pistols. Post-9/11 fears also seem to be a factor, as has been the relentless pro-gun politicking of the National Rifle Association and marketing, particularly to women, by handgun manufacturers. Events like fatal shootings on the Virginia Tech University campus reinforce a feeling that the world is an unsafe place, even as violent U.S. crime rates fall.”
While all of these seem to be legitimate reasons to help explain the “societal shift,” I think – as I stated after reviewing the Gallup poll - that more and more people are beginning to recognize the fact that more guns does not equate to more crime.
Moreover, I think increasingly people are beginning to distinguish between responsible gun owners and violent criminals who’ve obtained their firearms illegally. And I think peaceful demonstrations by pro-gun organizations and tea party members have done wonders to convince the general public that gun owners are good people.
But, perhaps, the reason is more fundamental. That is, all people no matter their race, creed, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc., know deep down inside that the right to protect themselves is a fundamental right. And some groups and communities have for various reasons (political, cultural, etc.) elected to (consciously or subconsciously) suppress this right for sometime, that is until now.
(Photos courtesy of Bloomberg)