Sunday, February 9, 2020

State of the Sword 2020

It is my honor and privilege to apprise you all of the current status of Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols and what we have accomplished in the past year. I am pleased to inform you that 2019 was our best year yet.

We taught at least 50 students in the basics of safe firearm handling and operation, which is twice as many as were taught in 2018. I say "at least" because as a matter of policy we do not require those we help to out themselves as gun owners or having received training, as there are many within the queer community who wish to stay "within the gun closet" and we respect their wishes. Of those taught, several were confirmed to have bought firearms after instruction; in addition, an unknown number of students already owned guns and wanted training in their use.

We experienced a 19% reduction in the number of our volunteer instructors due to our transition from a public Google map to a privately owned database over the summer as duplicate entries and instructors with no contact information were removed. While this is looks like a setback from a raw numbers perspective, private control over data is an important factor in today's increasingly un-private world. Furthermore, new instructors join our database weekly, and so I have every confidence we will soon meet and then exceed our pre-transition numbers.

In 2018 we incorporated Pink Pistols into the Operation Blazing Sword corporate structure after a year-long merger, and the following year saw a lot of integration between the two branches. While we have had our share of growing pains as does every merger, those have since been worked out and I am proud that both divisions are running smoothly and integrating with each other.

We also expanded our Board of Directors from 3 members to 5 following the departure of founding Board member Nikki Stallard. Joining me alongside Gwen Patton are Matthew House, an IT specialist who oversaw our database transition; Dexter Guptill, leader of the Northern Virginia Pink Pistols chapter and one of the original Pink Pistols; and of course Top Shot Chris Cheng who needs no introduction. This Board is composed of skilled and experienced pro-queer firearm activists, and I am excited by what we can accomplish.

Finally, we raised over $8,000 in 2019, primarily through fundraisers and private donations. Even though this is more than what we raised in 2018 and double what we raised in 2017, I acknowledge that for a national charity this is a small amount. However, what makes this number noteworthy is that it was all done without the backing of big corporations or a New York billionaire. Instead, it was done by ordinary people like you and me, proving that Operation Blazing Sword is truly a grassroots effort that appeals to regular Americans regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. For a pro-gun, queer-friendly niche charity, this level of achievement is astounding.

Even though 2019 was our best year yet, I look forward to shattering all of our records in 2020. We will spread the word, through personal appearances and Pride booths and by funding classes, that the Second Amendment is for all Americans. By teaching people the basics of responsible firearms ownership and operation, we decrease the chances that they will be victims of crime and violence and increase their chances of emerging from a life-threatening situation victorious.

Through this instruction, we see each other through new eyes and tear down old boundaries. Gun owners gain an understanding of what it is to be queer, and queer people discover that gun owners do not hate them. Once you see someone as a human being, it is difficult to relegate them to the category of "the other".

As J.R.R Tolkien said, “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”  Likewise, I do not love Operation Blazing Sword for its accomplishments; rather, I love those people whom it has taught protection. In 2020, let us come together as one people and declare that the lives of gay people and straight people, of transgender people and cisgender people, of those on the right and those on left all have value and are all worth defending, because they are human beings and we love them. 

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