Gun owner and Second Amendment advocate Marlene Hoeber isn't your typical member of the National Rifle Association. In fact, she isn't a member of the NRA at all.
The Oakland, Calif., laboratory equipment mechanic regularly visits firing ranges, where, along with other members of her gun club, she shoots a variety of weapons. "Guns are fun to play with," she says. She even makes her own ammunition.
She has no use, however, for the NRA's conservative political agenda. By her own description, Hoeber is a feisty, liberal, transgender, tattooed, queer, activist feminist.
She belongs instead to another gun advocacy group entirely--The Liberal Gun Club--whose membership ranges, she says, "from socialists, to anarchists who can quote Marx, to Reagan Democrats."
Its mission, she says, is to provide "a place for gun owners to talk to other owners about neat gun stuff, without having to hear how the president is a Muslim-usurper-socialist running a false-flag operation."
San Jose member Walter Stockwell describes it as the NPR of gun clubs--without the tote bags.
Whereas the NRA has some 3 million members, according to Guidestar, and a budget of some $250 million, The Liberal Gun Club has 1,200 members nationally and a budget of $10,000, according to its head, Ed Gardner.
Although liberal gun owners are presumed not to exist, Gardner says they most certainly do.
By the most recent estimates, he says, about 40 percent of registered Democrats are gun owners (versus 60 percent of Republicans). He thinks 40 percent grossly understates the number of liberal owners. Reason: when some strange pollster calls an owner and asks, "Do you own a gun?" many say no to protect their privacy, according to Gardner.
The Liberal Gun Club is not alone in catering to left-leaning gun advocates. Kindred institutions include the Blue Steel Democrat, Gun Loving Liberal, Pink Pistols and the online publication American Gun Culture Report.
On its website, Pink Pistols (slogan: "Pick On Someone Your Own Caliber") urges "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or polyamorous persons" to take up arms legally.
"We teach queers to shoot," says the site. "Then we teach others that we have done so. Armed queers don't get bashed. We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts will realize that now [they are] armed and effective with those arms."
The site notes that 31 states allow qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons and recommends that gays embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns.
The American Gun Culture Report, in publication since 2006, asks on its website:
"Do you like guns but hate 'gun people'? Are you uncomfortable when political 'progressives' support every Amendment from the Bill of Rights but [not] the 2nd? Does it make you crazy when 'conservatives' swear to uphold the 2nd Amendment but look the opposite way when other rights are trampled on?" If so, it says, then AGCR is for you.
The publication is an outlet for the gun-related writings of "liberals, libertarians, queers, feminists, anarchists and socialists."
To what extent does the gun industry support any of these groups?