MOSCOW, Idaho -- Scotty Evans thinks the best way to
protect gays and lesbians from hate crimes is to give them
"Self-defense is a basic human right that I really believe
in," said Evans, 39, a computer programmer who moved to Moscow
from Canada nine years ago.
Evans and his wife, Jean, have started a local chapter of
the Pink Pistols, a national group that educates gays on gun
safety and encourages members to carry concealed weapons.
The national group has 32 chapters in 23 states. Evans is
also president of the Palouse Practical Shooters gun club.
A handful of people have joined the local Pink Pistols.
Homosexuality is not a membership requirement. Gay group
members declined comment.
After University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was
killed for being gay, Evans said he needed to respond in some
way. He heard about the Pink Pistols, but did not know if he
"I got an e-mail about a straight couple in Virginia who
started a club, and it sort of just went from there."
This is not the first group with these goals, however.
A Seattle group called Cease Fear formed several years ago
with National Rifle Association instructors offering
self-defense classes to residents of Capitol Hill, Seattle's
traditionally gay district.
"We wanted to help these people out," said Joe Huffman, who
helped form the group and now lives in Moscow. "As long as
they stayed in their area, there were no problems. But
sometimes a group of thugs would go in and decide to bash
gays. The police can't always get there right away."
The biggest challenges in starting both groups have been
stereotypes on both sides, said Huffman, also a Pink Pistols
member. Huffman is bridging that gap through combined shoots
with Pink Pistols members and gun club enthusiasts.
ĽOn the Net: www.pinkpistols.com/local.palouse