Saturday two gay friends and I spent a fine afternoon blasting away at a local shooting range. Most folks know that I am an ardent defender of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which preserves an individual’s right to own a gun in the U.S. Some might say I’m a gun nut. Others think me crazy. Call me what you want (I don’t care), I am passionate about the right to keep and bear arms, especially by members of the GLBT community.

After cleaning my .357caliberrevolver, I picked up the most recent copy of SFGN in which commentator Pier Angelo ranted about America’s “nutty” obsession with guns. I don’t know who the hell Pier Angelo is but his knowledge of guns, violence, and the constitution seem to echo that of four-year-old elementary school civics student. So I will take the bait and respond to Mr. Angelo and try to open his mind if even just a tiny bit.

Mr. Angelo you are right. The world is dangerous place.   You note horrific school shootings, but think also of the many violent acts caused by knives, bats, cars, and even fists. Then there are the usual murders, rapes, robberies, and let’s not forget gay bashings. The world is full of a lot of hateful, insane, and criminal people.   Most Americans are not criminals, hateful, or insane. We go about our business, work, obey the laws of the land, enjoy the fruits of our labor and expect others to do the same.

A Pew Research study indicates that while the true figure is difficult to determine, there exists between 275 to 310 million guns in the U.S. – almost one gun for every person in America.   Since the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting there have be 29 similar events, most recently the terrible tragedy at Fort Hood. These should be called to our attention by the news media as the horrible events that they are. Despite the high degree of coverage by the media of these shootings these events are actually quite rare.   So rare, in fact, that the Economist Magazine estimates the chance of you being shot buy a gun as 1 in 514,147. Your chance of being hit by lightning is 1 in 3,000. That indicates to me that if there are 310 million gun owners in the U.S., most of us don’t go on shooting sprees or act violently. We exercise great restraint.

The framers of our constitution fought a revolution against oppressive British rule to establish this great American experiment in democracy. They did it using guns. The founders and early leaders of our country knew that an unarmed population could be oppressed by even the new democratic republic that they had fought and bled for. We need only read the words of our first President George Washington:

“Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.”

Carrying and owning a gun has everything to do with freedom Mr. Angelo. As you have (I hope) read in the U.S. Constitution the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  That’s it - period – end of story. If you don’t like the fact that people in America can own and carry firearms, then form a group, get a political action committee going, and call for a constitutional amendment to remove this right. Then kiss your chance of ever holding public office goodbye.  

The world is especially dangerous for GLBT people. Gay bashings and bias related crimes are always in the news. Thankfully, the Second Amendment gives gays, blacks, Jews, lesbians, or any disliked minority a way to save themselves from a horrible death such as endured by hate crime victim Matthew Sheppard in 1998 on a lonely fence in Laramie, Wyoming.

Just a few short years ago two gay men were attacked by a group of thugs in the Wilton Manors area.   David Villanova, 27, was lucky; he survived his attack but Craig Cohen, 47, lingered in a coma for months and recently passed away.

Laws don’t protect people under attack and the police will be the first to tell you they can’t get to the scene of the crime usually until after the fact.   Their job is to investigate crimes and recommend charges to the prosecutors. That’s little comfort when your skull is smashed in and your blood is running into the gutters.  So Mr. Angelo, when you talk about getting rid of guns, you talk about leaving you own people defenseless against those who would kill us. Thanks, but no thanks!

I think it’s time we look for a new solution. Every GLBT person should own, learn to use, and apply for a concealed weapons permit so that they can defend themselves when confronted with these anti-gay wackjob wing nuts.

Imagine, you’re on your way home from the Peter Pan Diner and a group to testerone filled teens decides your queer self will be their entertainment for the night.   What a surprise to them when you pull out a Glock 9mm semi-automatic hand un. You can bet those son of bitches will change their attitude real fast. You probably won’t even have to shoot it. They’ll take off like the cowards they are. And you will be alive and well. No ambulance, no vigil needed, no nine months in a coma.  

Better yet, if enough queers carry a firearm and stop acting like passive victims pretty soon gay bashers will think twice about carrying out their attacks. Is the twink with the spike Mohawk packing? Are the two women hand in hand down Wilton Drive carrying a gun?   We can begin to confuse violent anti-gay people that maybe gay bashing will be reduced. Not because of a hate crime law but because we actively take advantage of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for our protection.   Queers need to stop acting like victims and hoping that the government or the police will help us in our time of need. Bullshit!   Buy, learn to use a firearm and be prepared to shoot back at those that would kill us. It’s the ultimate deterrent.

Mr. Angelo no one is going to force you to get gun. If you are ever faced with violence on the street or in your home remember dial 911 and wait - because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!

Rev. Gus Kein is the former Executive Pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral MCC and has served as fundraising counsel for The Sunshine Cathedral Foundation, The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and Classical South Florida, 89.7. Rev Kein also served as president of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is retired and lives in Fort Lauderdale.   He is a proud member of NRA.