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Saturday, August 3, 2002

Idaho

Pink Pistols chapter begun in Moscow to protect gays

Associated Press

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Scotty Evans thinks the best way to protect gays and lesbians from hate crimes is to give them guns.

"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 was qualified.

"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


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