Rev Irene Monroe

Can gun-toting solve gay-bashing?

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | July 02, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Boston, gun control, guns, hate crimes against LGBT people, Jonathan Rauch, LGBT, PInk PIstols

In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own a gun for personal use. While the debate will continue to go on about whether the Second Amendment really means that American citizens only have the right to bear arms in connection with service in a well-regulated militia as referenced in the amendment or we have the right to keep a loaded handgun for self-defense.

For those American citizens who reside in congested crime-ridden urban areas riddled with drug and gang warfares, as I do, this recent ruling brings a heightened concern about personal safety. But this ruling also brings a heightened concern about personal safety for those of us who rely on hate crimes laws to protect us from the bigoted actions by our fellow citizens.

"I can see some crazed fool come into a bar where gays hang out or my homeys and shoot the hell out of us," Adam Williams told me. Williams is an African American trans male who has been the victim of both gay-bashing and racial violence. Feeling more vulnerable than ever in his life with this recent Supreme Court ruling Williams tells me he's going to carry a gun with him.

"Ain't nothing out here to protect you now. I don't trust the cops 'cause they beat the shit out of you with other officers watching," Williams referring to the news about the cop beat down of Duanna Johnson, an African American transwoman, in a Memphis booking room that was captured on a surveillance video. "I'd be stupid not to go packing now."

Williams lives in Oakland, just outside of San Francisco, and he's going to check out the San Francisco chapter of Pink Pistols, a national organization that encourages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender to arm themselves to prevent hate crimes. The Pink Pistols are also a social gun club. The San Francisco Pink Pistols' website invites the community to learn how to shoot.

We are a group of primarily gay shooters who are welcoming to all. One need not be an experienced shooter, nor own a firearm. So if you are interested in learning to shoot in a non-threatening gay-friendly environment (one member is a certified firearm instructor) then click on for the date of our next shoot.

Pink Pistols brandishes the motto "Armed gays don't get bashed" and "Pick on someone your own caliber." Their message is a hot-button issue swirling in the LGBTQ community, which is: can gun-toting solve gay-bashing? "They're trying to get urban gays and lesbians to not be afraid of the one instrument that, when used properly and legally, can save their lives," Jeff Soyer, a Pistols member of the Vermont chapter told Alternate 101. Libertarian activist Douglas Krick founded pink Pistols in the anti-gun town of Boston. Although Pink Pistols have 48 chapters in 32 states and 2 countries, it was not well received here in Boston, one of the most gay-friendly but most crime-ridden cities in the country.

"I don't believe arming ourselves is a sustainable response to a subculture of hate towards homosexuality. We are not going to settle our scores as a community by having a shoot-out at the OK Corral," stated Sue Hyde of the Boston office of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to the Southern Voices in 2002.

But Jonathan Rauch, the gay journalist whose headline article in the March 13, 2000, Salon Magazine column, which Pink Pistols borrowed its name from, thinks differently. And he illustrates his point by reminding us of the 1998 killing of Mathew Shepard.

Shepard was small, helpless and childlike. He never had a chance. This made him a sympathetic figure of a sort that is comfortingly familiar to straight Americans: the weak homosexual.

The Pink Pistols are considered the lunatic fringe of the LGBTQ community and are often compared to the Black Panthers and Jewish Defense League, all movements in response to hate crimes and discrimination against their groups. And their advocacy for guns is understandable.

Self-defense is a human right. And great spiritual leaders have spoken out on the subject. For example, the Dalai Lama said, " If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." And Jesus stated in Luke 22:36, "Let him who hath no sword, let him sell his tunic and buy one."

We feel most vulnerable when we have no means to defend ourselves from attacks both systematically and individually coming toward us. Organizations like the Pink Pistols offer a seemingly viable tool to stem gay violence.

However, guns will never be the great equalizer for an embattled group. They may for a fleeting moment deter our enemies but they will never permanently protect us from them. But guns do, however, signal to us that we might need to take another course of action.


Recent Entries Filed under The Movement:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


I know that being able to protect myself has stopped me and several of my friends from getting bashed there were times when I had to protect myself or my friends in parking lots and on sidewalks. I own firearms and grew up in an area where most people do. I teach my own kids to shoot and how to defend themselves. I also applaud the recent ruling and I myself actually feel safer when I know that the law abiding citizens are able to be armed and that it is not just the criminals who have weapons. I myself do not generally carry a firearm around with me in public but I do have them in my home.
That having been said, I do not at all think that it is the answer to homophobia. While I agree that being armed is an answer to an immediate issue of self defense the greater issues of racism, homophobia, biphobia and other motivating factor to that violence, including economic and other social factors should be addressed culturally, socially and educationally.
I believe that a citizen should have the right to protect him or herself even to the point of using a gun or other tool to take a life if necessary. I do not believe that this provides us with a solution to social issues.

I can't help but express how much I like Ms. Monroe's tone whenever she puts out a contribution. It's got this soothing, calm quality, even when treating subjects that are anything but.

With that said, I've got to get a piece of misinformation out of the way. Hate crimes bills are not deterrents of actual hate crimes; there is absolutely no proof that they reduce the incidence of hate crimes. What they do is help achieve justice more easily by closing legal gaps by which perpetrators may get off more easily. Even if hate crimes laws are implemented, they are reactive measures, not proactive ones.

If you haven't looked at Terrance's Hate Crimes Project, I can tell you that most of those deaths wouldn't have happened had the victim been armed. We LGBT have this Utopian delusion that we will be taken care of. History has shown repeatedly how the individual must take measures to best protect his interests, i.e. his life/well-being. Since most gay men are not used to doing extensive sports nor physically demanding activities, they are often quite defenseless even on one-on-one scenarios. Now, it would take you years of training to properly handle yourself in hand-to-hand combat, but even then that doesn't guarantee you safety if you have more than one assailant. Proper gun use and retention training, on the other hand, takes far less time, and is far more effective in warding off attacks. Nobody likes to take a gamble at being shot.

We like to call the Pink Pistols a fringe group because of liberal dogma that is ingrained within the community. You can be a liberal, but to be a good gay boy/girl (that means not getting scoffed at by the fellow self-righteous queens), you must adhere to all tenets of socialism without questioning. It's a knee-jerk reaction the gay community has adopted. The mistaken Utopian ideals are prioritized over reality, and this is how things end badly.

You can choose to be defenseless and stick to the ideals that the government and society will take care of you, but I find it really insulting when a person tries to bully others into not taking safety precautions themselves.

I never leave home and not be "armed" this does not mean I carry a pistol but I do own a rifle. A roll of quarters in a sock works wonders marbles
work good to and a big ass belt buckle all work wounders on a idot theb so does a knife.

But if one goes the pistol route learn how to use the thing and clean it dont be a goof ball who cant hit a wall but be a dead on sharpshooter and hit what you aim at.

beergoggles | July 2, 2008 7:02 PM

I have to say I completely agree with Rob's and Lucrece's comments. Set the idealism aside and deal with reality. If running around unarmed and expecting the government to protect you isn't working, stop continuing to do that. Sure - push for more social change, better trained police, better laws and the like, but at least arm yourself in the meantime until you're sure you're living in a violence free utopia where you don't need to worry about self-defense anymore.

I prefer reality and the pragmatism associated with it rather than swallowing any pre-packaged notion of what a LGBTQ is supposed to think. And the Pink Pistols aren't the lunatic fringe of the gay community any more than the religion chasers.

Lucrece,
African-Americans were armed during the bad old days of Jim Crow segregation and it still didn't stop many of our peeps from getting lynched.

Were those that were lynched armed? Did they take down anyone with them? I'm pretty sure a good shotgun did serve as a deterrent.

Wow. Seriously guys? You think guns are okay?

Jerame calls me the gun nazi. There are no guns in our house and there never will be. Guns end up killing more loved ones than criminals - and with bipolar Bil in the house, it's just not a good idea. We DO have a couple of nice baseball bats, a large lead pipe, a boxer and a pitbull placed strategically around the house. As warning - the boxer and pitbull don't stay in one place for very long. :)

Our neighbor's house was getting broken into on Sunday. I could have gone out with a gun and someone could have gotten shot (him or me). Instead, I let the dog outside while the other neighbor called 911. I thought it was kinda funny that they sent in the K9 unit to flush him out of the house. After all, he wasn't coming back out the window our dog was under. :)

Oh, come on, Bil. Immense stupidity on the part of parents leaving their firearms easily accessible and not locked is not a reason to ban gun use.

And, self-defense, Bil. You don't have to be a vigilante. The idea is to have something to defend yourself with, as the police's record on response time to 911 calls is pathetic.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 3, 2008 3:52 AM

One of the several reasons I left Florida was fools with guns. Count me out very much! It is a pity that single shot rifles and pistols, that existed when the Constitution was written, have morphed into urban genocide capable implements.

Oh, come on, Bil. Immense stupidity on the part of parents leaving their firearms easily accessible and not locked is not a reason to ban gun use.

I love it: "Dead children isn't a reason to ban a product!"

Monica makes a good point - guns didn't help black people then, and they won't help us now. You have a gun on you and you face a group with guns - does that help anything that everyone's now armed?

Fond of hypocrisy, Alex? Last time I checked, there are many home products which also happen to cause the death of children more frequently. I don't see any drive to ban such items.

Of course, blowing a minority scenario out of proportion seems convenient. Don't let adherence to consistency stop you!

As for Monica's point, I'm still waiting for an answer from her. For the record, though: You face a group with guns, you've still got a gun. Most gay bashings are beatings; there's no perceived threat. Now, the group of straight guys might be advantaged, but there's very little preventing the gay guy causing a casualty himself before being taken down. I'd love for you to explain what rationale this group would have for taking a gamble on one of its members-- not to mention potentially facing life in prison after the incident-- instead of backing off and finding easier prey.

Ending this bit, I leave you with a question: Have you ever had any experience with guns?

While I agree with the second ammendment ruling, I have always been weary of owning a gun due to my belief in the power of suggestion. Walking around with a gun on your hip seems only to attract conflict and situations that appear to warrant using a weapon. It's one of those things where, if you have it you feel protected and it may influence your decision making (like walking through bad neighborhoods at night, arguing with crazy strangers causing escalation rather than walking away...etc.). There is a danger in forgetting that the ideal is to avoid situations where the gun is needed. It's not a license to be bold and fearless. I know this doesn't apply to everyone but for many, it seems owning a gun just attracts violence.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 3, 2008 10:18 AM

Excellent Thomas. Lucrece, Charlton Heston would not have liked you regardless of how much you were packing, (hwen people who hate gays love guns I get one sided) and if I know anything about a pack of men on the prowl to damage a gay person it is that they are insecure themselves. Do you really wish to risk the consequences? I have used baseball bats very effectively, but to my lasting shame. These people think they are immortal so they will take chances. We should not take chances.

Let's engineer ourselves into the best people we can be. Let's put away the stones, knives, guns and bats and think six paces ahead. Have a buddy system! Don't be a victim, and the only heroes, are the people who get through it alive. You want bad treatment from cops?, have a firearm on you.

Ha, buddy system. Darling, my position may not be popular in this blog, but at least it has the luxury of being based on something more concrete than naivety.

Oh, by the way, care to elaborate on the shame part?

beergoggles | July 3, 2008 7:38 PM

It always amazes me when usually thoughtful people throw up fallacies (straw man among others) arguments when they come up against an idea they have a stock response to.

In Bil's case you probably don't need a gun and you seem to have evaluated the issue against whatever bipolar tendency you have. You seem to have given it thought and taken necessary precautions with the bats and dogs to protect your property. Good for you. At least you didn't throw up some thoughtless comment like "think of the children". I really expected better from you Alex :p

FWIW, I was taught to handle rifles since before my teens. I don't own a gun now because I don't see an immediate or foreseeable need for it considering the nice neighborhood I now live in. However, that also means I don't have a pre-conditioned aversion to it, nor do I have a problem with responsible and non-criminal adults owning them.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 4, 2008 12:16 AM

The shame, Lucrece is that I and a group of other Gay men went on a beating spree of "sissy beaters." Homosexual acts were illegal in Indiana so getting effective help from the police was out of the question. It was very wrong to do what we did. Being 19 years old myself at the time I too made immature mistakes that could have hurt another person (straght, GLBTQ, Asian, Caucasion, Black, Latino all lives have equal value) for life. That is the shame Lucrece.

Buddy system, naive? Until 2002 I was going up against Black and Latino drug pushers in Chicago outside my front door. I did not need a gun to do that. I needed and got a community. There is no excuse not to have a cell phone on you and six numbers you can call. There is also nothing wrong in going places you know to be generally safe and with friends. There is something very wrong about going out looking for trouble, armed, and calling it defending yourself.

Talk about blaming the victims!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 4, 2008 6:33 AM

Lucrece, I do not know where you go, and I do not blame victims when I urge community and caution. Putting yourself in the position of carrying a concealed firearm and going out in the public to feel safe? So you never have a alcoholic beverage when you do this? There is nothing that could alter your sense of perceived threat that could cause you to make a deadly mistake? Someone removing something shiny from their vest pocket (like a cigar case) and you would never make an error?

Oh, and your comment number two? To suggest that there are not plenty of Gay men who get their hands dirty with sports, gym and hard work is stereotyping at it's worst.

Lucrece, you surely must be a perfect guy to have around for Armageddon in that you have the confidence of your convictions that you will not kill someone innocent, in error, in the meantime. Sad to say I don't think I would hang out with you, but that is hardly a worry now is it?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 4, 2008 7:33 AM

Correction to my comment #18: "To suggest that there are not plenty of LGBTQ persons who..."

Guns are a tough subject. I've owned handguns, actually held jobs that required I carry one, and held a conceiled carry permit at one point. I'm a liberal, for certain, and realize that gun crimes are a huge problem, but at the same time, there are too many handguns out there already for the cat to not be out of the bag. And, since the bad guys have them, I might need to carry one a time or two, as well, in the future.

Rifles and shotguns are another matter. I've enjoyed the shooting sports since I was a teenager, and while I'm a bit rusty right now, I'm not a bad skeet and trap shooter. I don't care for hunting, but I understand the appeal of it. Sport shooting of rifles and shotguns is an American tradition.

In an ideal world, I'd require a license to own firearms, just as a license is required to ride a motorcycle or drive an automobile. I admire the NRA's well-run gun safety program, but I am much less enamored of the NRA's political activities. A few years ago in Kentucky, I was in the gallery while the legislature debated a bill that would permit the Louisville and Lexington police departments destroy the handguns that they confiscated and used for evidence, following trials. Kentucky law require that all confiscated evidence, including firearms, be auctioned and the proceeds be used to purchase ballistic vests. However, the police have, at times, auctioned the same handgun two and three times over, and it keeps being purchased and reused in crimes. Additionally, the police already are fully stocked with ballistic vests now. We watched as a bill that would have allowed police to destroy these weapons was amended into a law that required police to instead give the auction money to the state general fund, in the name of "not allowing gun control." The bill's sponsor didn't vote for her own bill, when they were finished, nor did they allow her to remove her name from it. They did this with 50+ police officers in the gallery, believe it or not, and a couple of them mentioned to me that "they'd noted who did this, and they'd better not see them on the road, or they'll be ticketed for 1 over." Of course, the offending state reps were all from outside the Louisville-Lexington-Cincinnati triangle, not from the metro areas.

Guns are a tough subject. I've owned handguns, actually held jobs that required I carry one, and held a conceiled carry permit at one point. I'm a liberal, for certain, and realize that gun crimes are a huge problem, but at the same time, there are too many handguns out there already for the cat to not be out of the bag. And, since the bad guys have them, I might need to carry one a time or two, as well, in the future.

Rifles and shotguns are another matter. I've enjoyed the shooting sports since I was a teenager, and while I'm a bit rusty right now, I'm not a bad skeet and trap shooter. I don't care for hunting, but I understand the appeal of it. Sport shooting of rifles and shotguns is an American tradition.

In an ideal world, I'd require a license to own firearms, just as a license is required to ride a motorcycle or drive an automobile. I admire the NRA's well-run gun safety program, but I am much less enamored of the NRA's political activities. A few years ago in Kentucky, I was in the gallery while the legislature debated a bill that would permit the Louisville and Lexington police departments destroy the handguns that they confiscated and used for evidence, following trials. Kentucky law require that all confiscated evidence, including firearms, be auctioned and the proceeds be used to purchase ballistic vests. However, the police have, at times, auctioned the same handgun two and three times over, and it keeps being purchased and reused in crimes. Additionally, the police already are fully stocked with ballistic vests now. We watched as a bill that would have allowed police to destroy these weapons was amended into a law that required police to instead give the auction money to the state general fund, in the name of "not allowing gun control." The bill's sponsor didn't vote for her own bill, when they were finished, nor did they allow her to remove her name from it. They did this with 50+ police officers in the gallery, believe it or not, and a couple of them mentioned to me that "they'd noted who did this, and they'd better not see them on the road, or they'll be ticketed for 1 over." Of course, the offending state reps were all from outside the Louisville-Lexington-Cincinnati triangle, not from the metro areas.

I don't do the club scene much, nor do I put myself into dicey situations if I can help it, but
I know of a number of T people who are quite aware of the dangers faced by those who transcend gender roles, and who carry a piece. As long as they're trained to use it, I have no issue. I don't want to see people killed, but if someone comes after you with the intention of killing you, and it's them or you, make it be them and don't apologize for it.

You see, Robert, darling, you keep banking on potential mistakes. Rest assured, projecting your guilt and perceived personal flaws unto others in order to support your argument need not apply.

And I stand by my second comment. It's far from stereotyping; it's reality based on how society makes sports/physical recreation highly inaccessible to gay men.

I do have convictions. They are not tainted by some guilt over childish criminal acts committed in the past, you see. You take the responsibility of standing with your convictions when you carry a gun. It requires great foolishness to misinterpret what the proper use of firearms is. If empathy and common sense fail you, then I have no pity for someone that will be prosecuted for becoming a tyrant instead of a citizen ensuring his safety.

Oh, and don't worry, my dear. Hanging around you would mean the likelihood of having my skull smashed with a bat for contradicting your Utopian aspirations. Being so concerned with my safety, I'll agree with you; there's nothing to worry about.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 5, 2008 1:18 AM

My Dear Lucrece,

Twas you who asked about what I felt shame over so you do not get to use that as a truncheon to suggest that I am dealing with any flaws. "Felt" is past tense Lucrece. If I implied it was an active emotion it was merely illustrative. I am glad, for your sake, that shame is a portion of your personality that is under developed.

I am sorry to hear that your local YMCA takes blood tests to determine homosexuality, or Ballys, LA Fitness, Gold's gym and that they have prohibited you from riding a bicycle or getting exercise because you are gay. You have said this so I assume you believe it.

But they let you own a gun obviously which is true blue American of them. You will be happy to know I no longer own a baseball bat, and since I live on the other side of earth from you hanging out remains unlikely. I am much more likely to see Zoe Brain.

Utopian aspirations! I like the ring of that, but I will settle for a constantly improving situation. I helped create one of those in Chicago with good neighbors working together against stone cold drug dealers outside my front door. You sadly underestimate the power of people who work together for a common good cause.

I wish you well Lucrece.

O definitely have mixed emotions about guns. I and my brother shared a BB gun we shot only under the supervision of my father and grandfathers.

Growing up in a city that rapidy grew in size during my childhood to become the fourth largest in the nation I saw the end results of people getting shot for sometimes stupid reasons. I personally hate them, but see the need in a still racist gun-fetishistic society that has 300 million handguns in it to bust a cap in a criminal's or a bigot's ass when necessary.

I've wondered aloud more than a few times what would happen if a transperson or a GLB person busted a cap in a bigot attempting a hate crime.
I doubt if we'd get a fair shake from the 'just-us' in the aftermath of that.

When I was growing up in Houston, my house was right around the corner from a fire station. On Friday nights when the ambulance rolled by the house (a weekly occurence), the bitterly sarcastic joke of me my family and friends was, "Who got shot or stabbed in South Park Village tonight?" (a large mega apartment complex three miles from my neighborhood)

Eddie Eagle doesn't visit the schools in my neighborhood, my dad and I didn't go hunting (nor did I care to go) so I don't have happy-happy joy-joy feelings about guns or the NRA.

The NRA has exacerbated my dislike of them by its senior leadership making racist statements over the last few decades. After what I witnessed in the KY legislature in 2000 I have even more contempt for the NRA and its Republican-enabling kill all resaoable guns laws lobbying apparatus.