DENVER — Gun sales are surging in the wake of Sunday’s deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. The tragedy is generating new debate over gun control reform and the right to bear arms.
Gun shops typically see a spike in customers after mass shootings. But this time, many are seeing shoppers they’ve never really seen before: More gays and lesbians.
George Horne, the owner of The Gun Room, Denver’s oldest firearms dealer, said Tuesday business is booming at his store.
“For this time of year I’d say its three to four times what we normally have,” he said.
Background checks that once took minutes can now take hours. It’s a sales surge similar to what happened after Sandy Hook and the Aurora theater shootings.
“We’re not surprised by it,” Horne said.
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.”
The Pink Pistols is a national gun club for gays and lesbians. It saw its membership soar from about 1,500 members on Saturday to 3,500 on Monday.
Dozens of new chapters are springing up, including one Smith is creating in Colorado Springs. He said it’s something he feels compelled to do, even though he’s heterosexual.
“I look at it as a disenfranchised minority that needs someone who’s willing to say I’m a resource who’s here and willing to help,” he said.
Another chapter also appears to be forming in the Denver area. The Pink Pistols typically meet on a regular basis at firing ranges to practice shooting.