'I feel better knowing I have the option of not being a victim'
In WBEZ’s ongoing series, "Our Guns," we talked to gun owners about what role firearms play in their lives. In this segment, we spoke to a gay man and a transgender woman who own guns.
The idea to explore gun ownership from this perspective came from a national group called Pink Pistols. The group advocates gun ownership in the LGBT community. Their tagline is “pick on someone your own caliber,” and “armed gays don’t get bashed.”
Gwendolyn Patton of Pink Pistols says the group changes the perception that gay people are easy victims.
"We teach queers to shoot, then we teach the rest of the world we’ve done it," she said. "Because then they may think twice about using (LGBT people) as a target.”
It’s difficult to know just how big the Pink Pistols movement is— Pink Pistols doesn’t keep a national count.
LGBT leaders told us that gun ownership used to protect against hate crimes was rare. But Pink Pistols said that being out of the closet didn’t mean you were out of the gun cabinet, so there may be more gay gun owners than we know.
There isn’t currently an active Pink Pistols group in Chicago. But we did find to two local LGBT gun owners. Both say they own guns, in part, for recreational use. But protection played a role, too.
Tallie lives in Oak Park, Illinois and was initially scared of owning and operating a gun. So, she pushed herself to practice and has become more and more comfortable with using one. She said she believed it's her right to defend herself.
OT lives in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He's a small business-owner who first bought a gun to protect his business from burglary. He said he wants anyone thinking about causing harm or damage to think twice about messing with him.