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Post-Pulse: Gun classes for LGBTQs promoted in Iowa

Posted by Adam Burke | Jun 23, 2016 | Community/News

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Orlando, a transgender writer in Florida has compiled a list of hundreds of gun owners and instructors across the country who volunteered to instruct lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folk (LGBTQ) in the basics of firearm operations and safety at little or no charge.

Two days after the bloody attack at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub, Erin Palette wrote a Facebook post that called for volunteers to teach anyone interested in learning about shooting guns, with a focus on self-defense, handguns and pistols.

Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC) president Barry Snell immediately offered his organization’s state-wide resources to LGBTQ Iowans who are interested in learning how to shoot. IFC is a non-partisan gun rights group.

“[W]e at Iowa Firearms Coalition, Iowa’s premier Second Amendment advocacy group, welcome everyone, including those in the LGBTQ community, with open arms. We’re all Americans, we’re all in this together, and if an LGBTQ person is curious about guns, or worse, they’re in some kind of personal danger, then we’ll use any resource at our disposal to assist and bring them into our awesome community,” he said.

Snell said his group had seen an uptick in IFC membership enrollments but could not attribute it to any event or group of people.

The database creator, Erin Palette, a “gun-owning transgender lesbian who has been welcomed by the gun community,” wants her map of the U.S. to be “completely covered” in dots.

Palette, who lives in Palm Coast, FL, was overwhelmed by the response and called Pulse a “soft target.”

“[E]ven if you are licensed concealed carrier in Florida, you cannot carry in a bar. Other states allow concealed carriers to carry in bars so long as they don’t drink, and I think that’s a fine idea. We have designated drivers — why not have designated carriers as well?”

Palette said she estimated over 400 people had been added to the interactive contact list after just a couple days and more were coming.

Cheryl Thomas is a spokesperson for Iowans for Gun Safety and said having a gun in the house increases the risk for suicide, homicide and unintentional shootings.

“After every massacre the gun industry capitalizes on fear to expand gun sales. The Orlando massacre impacted the LGBTQ community and it is not surprising that gun sellers and gun instructors would try to expand their sales of guns and classes. We ask people to slow down and make a clear minded decision that weighs the risks and responsibilities associated with gun ownership,” she said. “Owning a gun comes with the significant responsibility to keep it secure and locked at all times.”

“The LGBTQ community, like all Americans have a constitutional right to own a gun and use it in their home for protection. Iowans for Gun Safety supports this right for LGBTQ people and all Americans who are not prohibited, but we ask people to be aware of both the risks and responsibilities of owning a gun before you purchase a gun,” Thomas said.

Expert shooter Michael Dinos is another Iowan on the list. He said, “[I]t can be intimidating for many people to step foot into a gun store regardless of their sexual orientation because of the stigma that has been attached to gun ownership, and because of preconceived notions that may be hanging out there about gun stores and people who use and carry regularly.”

Dinos is not a shop owner but has trained people in marksmanship and has “plenty of firearms and firearms training experience,” which is why he said he was comfortable with volunteering.

Wes Seymour, of Algona, also landed on Palette’s map. “I’m just willing to help anyone who wants to be proactive about it with friendly, judgement-free training and assistance,” Seymour said.

John Schwertfeger, president of Stronghold Corp in Cedar Rapids, said that his group believes “self protection is a universal right and has no barriers [including] sex, race, religion or sexual orientation.”

Stronghold will offer an Iowa weapons permit class in Coralville on June 25.

“If one life can be saved as a result of our classes, we will have succeeded as instructors,“ Schwertfeger said.

On her blog post Monday, June 13, Palette quoted the queer shooting group, Pink Pistols, in her open call for free gun training: “Armed gays don’t get bashed.”

Pink Pistols has chapters in Madison, WI, and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Photo by tuchodi

Photo by tuchodi

About The Author

Adam Burke

Adam Burke is Little Village's photo editor.

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Blog Comments

As one of the original members of that “list” that Erin tried to make on Facebook, I am incredibly pleased to see how her efforts, and the generous volunteers in the gun community, have increased the size of her list to something over 1,500 volunteers. And it’s not just some attempt at virtue signalling. I’ve already taken on trans person to the range and I’ve got two gay men who I’ll be taking sometime really soon. This can’t be anything but good. Gun owners get to see LGBTQ people as PEOPLE, not some amorphous group. LGBTQ people get to see gun owners as friends and allies. And the whole world gets to see LGBTQ people as dangerous to abuse, willing to fight back, and carrying effective tools to win that fight. Everyone respects someone who can protect themselves.

So if you’re LGBTQ, or a minority, or woman, or whatever, let us make you welcome. Carrying a gun is a responsibility, but so is keeping yourself safe from harm. Let us help you stay alive until the cops get there to haul your attacker off to jail, the morgue, or the hospital. Your life is important. Protect it. We’ll show you how.

As a lifelong firearms enthusiast and, what many might consider a “stereotypical gun nut”, I am proud to be an armed ally and happy to offer my skills as a trainer.

What would a self-defense article be, without a massive heaping of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt from a “keep your guns _locked_ in a safe, inaccessible for effective & immediate self-defense, instead of in a retention holster on your person” organization that only enables violent criminals’ safety?

Free classes cost money? Private party sales benefit the gun industry? BOLLOCKS!

I look forward to seeing a quote from Darryl Tomas, the spokesperson for Iowans for Knife “Safety”, saying that having a knife in the house increases the risk for suicide, homicide, and unintentional knifing.

Or a quote from Meryl Tommass, the spokesperson for Iowans for Bat “Safety”, saying that having a bat in the house increases the risk for suicide, homicide, and unintentional bludgeoning.

While suicides contribute the most to firearm-related deaths in the U.S. (being over 50% of all gun deaths nationwide) the link between firearms availability and the suicide rate is iffy and certainly questionable. The U.S. has one of the highest gun availability rates in the world and yet we do not rank near the top in suicides. Of the nations with the 25 highest suicide rates in the world the U.S. was not one of them and many (not all) of these nations have far more restrictive access to firearms.
http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-most-suicides-in-the-world.html

The five countries with the highest suicide rate all have fairly restrictive firearm laws wherein only licensed owners may acquire, own,or transfer firearms and ammunition. That quick look alone shows the link between gun ownership and rate of suicide is highly suspect.

Expert shooter Michael Dinos is another Iowan on the list. He said, “[I]t can be intimidating for many people to step foot into a gun store regardless of their sexual orientation because of the stigma that has been attached to gun ownership, and because of preconceived notions that may be hanging out there about gun stores and people who use and carry regularly.”Really excellent.

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