On June 13, the day after a terror attack left 49 dead at an Orlando gay club, a project popped up to connect those who wanted to learn to shoot with those who wanted to help.
“I want to put together a mass list of all the people who have volunteered to teach firearms free of charge, and where those people are,” noted Erin Palette on Facebook, and began assembling a Google Map with respondents.
“You don’t have to be an expert to volunteer,” Palette explained. “Just be able to teach basic firearm safety, operation, and range etiquette, and be able to front all fees for range time, ammo, etc. You also don’t have to show them every single gun you have (I know ammo is expensive). I’m just assuming self-defense pistols.”
The response, branded Operation Blazing Sword by the 16th, has been overwhelming with hundreds of volunteers ranging from such diverse places as Marathon in the Florida Keys to Mustang, Oklahoma and Boomershoot, Idaho.
Not all are instructors, and not all by far are part of the gay community, they just want to help pass on the tribal knowledge of the gun community.
“US Army NCO offering to train anyone who needs help. Not NRA certified, but Army Range Safety NCO certified and expert qualified with pistol and rifle. I’m a Christian, and while I disagree with the LGBT lifestyle , I do not hate and have proudly served alongside LGBT soldiers,” reads one poster in Texas.
Another in rural Illinois, “Will share my firearm and I have the ammo, glasses, and ear protection. Everyone has the right to protect them self.”
In Philadelphia, “I can offer up a pistol to learn with, ammo, range fees, and will leave the instruction to the range officers at my local range (The Gun Range on Percy st) all on my dime.”
And so on and so forth.
And it is all volunteer.
“We at Blazing Sword are offering this central list of friendly gun owners out of the goodness of our heart (i.e. we aren’t getting paid or paid in-kind), just as the volunteers themselves are,” reads the map’s introduction.
To help, just add your name through the Blazing Sword Facebook page.