HOUSTON, Texas — Organizers for the Houston LGBT Pride celebration have declared the parade route and other pride events to be “gun-free zones.” The move comes less than two weeks after the Orlando Islamic terrorist attack at a gay nightclub — another “gun-free zone.” It also follows a threat of gun violence on Twitter.
The Pride Houston website states that “No Firearms Allowed at Any Pride Houston Events” and cites sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Texas Penal Code. The message also appears in Spanish. Organizers also say, “We will also be posting the policy regarding firearms on our site, social media outlets and at the parade. Firearms, concealed or open carry, will not be allowed.”
Organizers have remained committed to the gun-free zone on public streets even though the Houston LGBT community was threatened in a tweet that affirmatively stated – “There will be a massive shooting at the pride parade in Houston, TX,” as reported by Breitbart Texas Merrill Hope on June 16.
HPD investigating threat aimed at local Pride parade https://t.co/Lri84rAjRC
— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) June 16, 2016
Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins reported on June 23 that the LGBT gun rights group Pink Pistols, has seen their membership grow from 1,500 to more than 7,000 since the Orlando massacre.
Organizers are telling Houston Pride event goers that they will have “enhanced” security at the parade and other events on Saturday. Their website says, “We at Pride hear, understand, and share your concern for everyone’s safety this Saturday. Along with HPD (Houston Police Department) and the City of Houston, we have been making strides to ensure every possible measure and precaution is taken.”
They say that more HPD officers will be along the parade route, and will be inside and outside the festival. Private security forces, metal detection devices, and random vehicle searches will also be conducted, say organizers on the Pride Houston website. They also state that “These searches could and will include vendors, volunteers, entries, and guests.”
Houston Pride officials cite HPD Executive Assistant Chief George Buenik, “We want people to come downtown to enjoy the parade. We don’t want them to be in any type of fear, because we’re going to be down there trying to keep everybody safe.”
“That gun-free zone didn’t work well for the [Orlando] club and all of the other mass shootings,” says Jeff Sanford, owner of the Shiloh Gun Range in northwest Houston. Breitbart Texas reported that Sanford reached out to the LGBT community after the murder and wounding of those in Orlando by offering free CHL classes.
CJ Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas (OCT) told Breitbart Texas after the Orlando terror attack, “On Sunday morning, 49 Americans were slaughtered by an Islamic extremist at a nightclub in Florida. Since then, there have been other threats against the LGBT community. Open Carry Texas strongly believes that every law-abiding citizen has a right to keep and bear arms in self defense. We believe that open carry is a deterrent to criminal aggression.” Grisham said that members of OCT have offered to provide visibly armed escorts at LGBT events in order to achieve several objectives.
“The organizers of the Pride parade in Houston have created a policy that is foolish and unenforceable,” Grisham told Breitbart Texas on Saturday morning. “The bottom line is that they cannot ban guns at this public event. They can prevent participants in the parade from carrying, but not spectators and other citizens. For a group that is the target of Islamic extremists, I can’t fathom why they would not want the means and ability to defend themselves.”
The Shiloh Gun Range’s Jeff Sanford told Breitbart Texas, “It’s unfortunate that the parade organizers continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like a ‘gun free declaration’ will keep them safe. That certainly didn’t keep the 103 victims and 49 dead in the Pulse night club safe. Criminals obey signs like laws. They don’t. That’s why they’re criminals.”
Sanford added, “It’s a moot point, because as far as I understand Texas law [Texas Penal Code 42.035(f)(3)], the parade organizers cannot declare a public road or sidewalk a gun free zone. Bottom line, concealed means just that. No one knows you have it unless you have to use it. And I’m sick of seeing my fellow, unarmed Americans led to slaughter.”
Frankie Quijano of Pride Houston said, “Pride will still be happening. We will not let fear control us … Let your light shine in our community’s darkest hour.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.