Like any atrocity that’s committed with a firearm, the politicians and activists got busy with gun-grabbing talk and legislation. This, in turn, causes the public to go out and purchase firearms en masse, hoping not only to protect themselves from threats, but to get their gun before it’s illegal to buy them.
This latest mass shooting was different, however. An Islamic radical walked into a gay club and killed 50 gays and lesbians.
When the political posturing and anti-gun rhetoric began to fly, the public does what it always does and went out to purchase firearms, get their CHL, or both. A manager at the nearby Houston gun store and range, The Arms Room, told me over the phone that they’ve seen at least a 2o%-30% increase in sales, but that this was typical.
What isn’t typical is that those joining the rush to educate and arm themselves were from the LGBT community.
According to FOX 31 in Denver, one gun store has seen three to four times the increase of gun sales that usual this time of year. The buyers, however, aren’t what you’d typically see buying guns in a shop.
However, what’s different this time around is the clientele. Mike Smith, a firearms instructor in Colorado Springs, is one of many closely tracking the sudden surge in gays and lesbians buying weapons.
“I think right now because of what happened, people are looking for answers,” he said. “You walk into a gun shop and you expect to see people, frankly, who look like me. I think we forget we’re a country of all people, not just people who fit that predetermined mold.”
It’s also been reported that The Pink Pistol, a gay and lesbian centered shooting club, has seen an increase in membership by leaps and bounds. Claiming only 1,500 members on Saturday, it saw a massive increase to 3,500 that following Monday.
But becoming club members and buying guns isn’t just the end of the story, as good as that story is. The LGBT community is taking steps to educated themselves, and become licensed carriers. One Texas store in particular is overseeing this with overwhelming results.
Shiloh Indoor Shooting Range and Archery is a family owned and operated business located in Houston Texas. After the atrocity in Orlando, owner Jeff Sanford decided to get proactive, and announced from the store’s Facebook page that he was offering free CHL courses to the LGBT community.
The response was far more than Sanford and his family anticipated. Their classes were filled in almost no time flat, and people continue to contact the store as of this writing.
“We have 4 classes with over 300 people in them,” Sanford told me over the phone. “And people are still calling. I had to enlist my wife to help answer all the calls that were coming in.”
The LGBT community answered Sanford’s call in amazing numbers, something that Sanford is pleased with.
“These are people who beforehand thought that they couldn’t find themselves walking into a gun store.” he said. “This is 3.8% of the population that we need to welcome as supporters of the 2nd Amendment.”
Sanford also has a message to his fellow gun store owners and trainers. “I challenge everyone to do the same thing.”
Sanford’s approach is definitely admirable, and ripe for imitation. Because of actions such as his, we may see an LGBT community that no longer finds itself at odds with 2nd amendment advocates, and actually be counted among them. Whatever political, or social differences we may have, our right to protect ourselves should be something encouraged across the board.
“We’ve received some negative comments about what we’re doing here,” Sanford told me. “These people are not gun rights advocates.”
I agree. Everyone deserves to feel like they can learn to own and operate firearms, especially at a time when they’re targeted by fanatics. If you in the LGBT community are not lucky enough to have someone nearby you like the Sanford family to train you for a CHL, I encourage you to get one regardless. Hopefully, other licensed trainers will take up the Jeff Sanford challenge.