CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (Sept 23, 2018) – The 33rd Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC 2018) in Chicago became the site of a historic announcement for the LGBTQ community. The Pink Pistols – the nation’s first pro-gay, pro-gun group – is joining forces with Operation Blazing Sword, a program dedicated to firearm education, training and support for the LGBTQ community. This merger results in the creation of the single largest queer pro-gun group in history. In further news, Gwendolyn Patton, legendary First Speaker of the Pink Pistols, has been succeeded by Erin Palette, the Founder of Operation Blazing Sword. Ms. Palette will serve as Coordinator for both factions of the newly-formed LGBTQ Super Group.
Founded in 2000, Pink Pistols had a simple mission: “We teach queer people to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.” Beyond training, the Pistols also successfully filed numerous amicus briefs in high profile cases. Their membership at the time of merging was estimated to be 30,000 across North America.
Operation Blazing Sword was formed in response to the Pulse Massacre of June 12, 2016. Led by Erin Palette, this fresh platform provides members of the grossly under-served LGBTQ community with access to education in safe firearms handling as well as encouragement to obtain Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permits where legal. At the time of its merger, Operation Blazing Sword was powered by 1,600 volunteer instructors from all walks of life – conservative, liberal, straight, queer, transgender, and cisgender.
During her acceptance speech, Ms. Palette recalled the early days of Pink Pistols, when being outed as queer often resulted in loss of one’s job or worse. It was for this reason, Palette explained, that national member lists were not maintained. By keeping Pink Pistol factions regional its members’ privacy was protected from subpoena, but this dramatically limited the scope of Pink Pistol chapters’ community outreach.
The announcements at GRPC 2018 herald in a new era of LGBTQ Second Amendment support and activism. On this topic, Palette passionately asserted that “the ability to connect…is crucial.” Since Operation Blazing Sword is a 501c3 tax deductible charity, funds can now be raised at a national level to help chapters in need, whether that is to rent a booth at a Pride Festival, buy ammunition for a range day, or hold a community seminar. “After all,” reminded Palette, “the most powerful sword is the one wielded by two hands.”
I’ve know Erin for a long time, first as just another gun-blogger, then she took a risk and revealed to me that she was transgender….which changed exactly nothing in my views of her. We later began to work directly together with the Gun Blog Variety Cast. Durring this time and in the wake of the Terrorist Attack on the Pulse Night Club in Florida Erin founded and launched Operation Blazing Sword, which was a herculean task not to be underestimated.
Now this merger is a HUGE step to help bring pro-Gun LGBTQ people into political power, and help break through the misinformation that seems to permeate that community.
I am bursting with pride!