A lot has been said about people of all backgrounds and stripes learning to use and carry firearms in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attacks. It’s easy to sit here and Monday-morning-quarterback the situation, but the biggest question on everyone’s mind is “How do we stop this from happening?” Everyone has a solution (for better or worse) and many of those are BIG PICTURE solutions that the government has to figure out. Kind of hard to feel like you can do anything at your own personal level when politicians and talking heads are opining on what is the best course of action from here on out.
But here is at least one solution that anybody can participate in.
Yesterday, Mr. CJ told me about a post from an acquaintance of his on Facebook named Erin Palette who was compiling a list of friends willing to teach firearm safety to others for free – particularly to members of the LGBT community. Take them to the gun range, pay for their range time and ammo, teach them about guns and how to handle them safely – all of it. And these wouldn’t necessarily be whole classes on gun safety. These would be individuals who want to learn the basics of gun safety and gun laws, but don’t know where to start.
Basically, that post BLEW UP – over a hundred (at last count that I could tell) people volunteering their time, expertise, and expense to help total strangers learn how NOT to be the next ISIS terrorist’s victim.
Remind me how America is a super-intolerant and bigoted country, again?
Back to Erin Palette – she is a featured writer at the website Blue Collar Prepping. In this post, she talks about how the idea came about. She was inspired by the words of her friend and fellow writer Nicki Kenyon saying that she would be happy to take anyone in her area to the gun range who wanted to learn how to safely handle and carry a gun.
And that’s when Erin got the idea. She put the question to her Facebook followers. Would any of them be willing to teach someone – particularly someone from the LGBT community – interested in learning about guns and gun safety and possibly getting their CCW permit in their state? Ask the internet hive mind (as it were). Surely there would be some response.
Holy crap, did people respond. Almost instantly. IN DROVES.
Yesterday afternoon, she finally had to create a public Google map and have people put their information in themselves because the list was just getting too unwieldy for her to constantly be adding to it. She still monitors it, of course, but it’s a better method of keeping track of everyone. The project has unofficially taken on the name “Project Blazing Sword,” in reference to the show Voltron.
Look at all those dots, each representing someone willing to introduce a newbie to the world of firearms and self-defense (zoom in, if you need to) –
From Erin’s blog post –
So, to all my gun-owning friends who have volunteered yourselves: Bless you. You’re doing a great thing. And if you want to volunteer, just contact me with your name, city & state, and your preferred method of being contacted (email, telephone, etc).
To all the preppers out there who are wondering if they ought to learn how to use guns, the answer is a resounding YES.
To anyone wondering “Do I have to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans to get help from these folks?” the answer is no, it’s welcome to everyone — we’re just pointing out that LGBT folks are extra-welcome and won’t be judged by these folks.
I encourage you all to spread this map. As the Pink Pistols say, “Armed gays don’t get bashed”, and helping train our LGBT brothers and sisters might prevent them from becoming another victim of ISIS.
This is the best idea I’ve heard in a LONG time. It’s one thing to sit here and say “Everyone should learn how to defend themselves.” It’s totally another to reach out and actually help them do it.
The truth is that it can be difficult for someone to speak up and say “This is something I want to learn.” Especially if that person has never shot a gun or doesn’t come from a background where guns are treated as normal, useful tools. Those of us who frequent the gun range often forget that it’s not as easy as going to the nearest gun range or gun store and saying “Hey, I want to learn about guns and gun safety!” It can be a daunting prospect for someone with next to no experience – especially if you’re also an LGBT person and you’ve been told that gun enthusiasts are a bunch of backward, judgmental, homophobic types. Trust me, this list represents people for whom nothing could be further from the truth.
If you’re interested in helping teach someone about gun safety, by all means get in touch with Erin or just add your name and info to the map. I emailed her about it and here’s what she’s looking for –
I am looking for experienced gun owners and concealed pistol carriers who will take a new person to the shooting range and instruct them in the safe operation and handling of a pistol. Ideally, this person will provide the guns and pay all of the range fees and ammunition expenditures.
Because this can be expensive, I’m not asking folks to bring along every gun they have and let someone shoot all their ammo. A modest selection of handguns (9mm, .380, 38 Spl, etc) and perhaps a shotgun or AR-15, and as much ammo as they think a new student might need — perhaps 100 or so rounds of each.
Please email me with name, city & state, and contact information like email address or telephone number.
And here is Erin’s professional contact info –
If you want to learn about guns, this could very well be a good place for you to start (and like Erin said in her post, you don’t have to be LGBT to do it. This was just a way to compile a list of people willing to help those folks). We don’t have to agree on politics or social issues, but we can agree that nobody deserves to lose their life just because of their lifestyle.
And I certainly echo Erin’s sentiment – the people who volunteer for this are certainly doing a great thing for others. This is what Americans do when we’re not worried about petty differences like race or religion or politics or sexual orientation. We help each other. We look out for each other. And we do it without being told to.