Speaking With Piper Smith, The Founder & Director of Armed Equality

Armed Equality is the largest LGBT gun rights group in the country. Smith founded the group after the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub.
Armed Equality is the largest LGBT gun rights group in the country. Smith founded the group after the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub.

USA – Piper Smith, is the founder and director of Armed Equality.

Armed Equality is the largest LGBT gun rights group in the country. Smith founded the group after the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub. On June 12, 2016, an Islamic extremist who had a hatred for gay people, entered the club and killed 49 people. The terrorist thought that being gay was an offense to Islam.

The shooting became the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11. None of the revelers were armed. They could not defend themselves. Smith realized that needed to change and if no one else were going to do something, then she would.

She founded Armed Equality with the sole goal of enabling the LGBT community to protect themselves against people that would do the community harm. The group doesn’t have any other political motivation other than Second Amendment rights and have people from all over the political spectrum.

Smith contacted AmmoLand News about a cartoon she found offensive. The cartoon was critical of the Equality Act. It pictured a very masculine trans athlete competing in a women’s competition. We wanted to speak to her about her group and the cartoon.

Piper Smith was curious enough to grant AmmoLand News  an interview.

John: What is Armed Equality?

Piper: Armed Equality is a group and movement focused on strengthening the self-defense skills of LGBT individuals.

Historically (~3 years or so) we have focused on facilitating armed and unarmed self-defense training and other similar events with vetted LGBT-inclusive instructors & businesses. Recently we have started to also focus on helping to reform the broader 2A community in terms of inclusivity in non-traditional demographics.

John: The Pulse nightclub shooting was a wake-up call to a lot of people. Do you think an armed citizen could have stopped the shooting?

Piper: It was absolutely a wake-up call for many Americans, especially for those paying attention in the American LGBT community. Something about Pulse that I wish more people were aware of was that law enforcement waited around outside for over two hours!

They prevented nearly all first responders from saving lives due to an active threat that they failed to confront (Note: there was one very heroic paramedic team that risked their careers to enter the area and saved many lives at great personal risk).

Most of us in the 2A community are well aware that we are our own first responders and 911 cannot be solely relied upon, and sometimes I think we take that acknowledgment and mindset for granted. For individuals without military or law enforcement backgrounds who have no idea what the difference between cover and concealment is, I think we owe them the opportunity to learn.

As we well know, not everyone wants to learn these harsh truths, and that’s their choice; but I think we owe it to our fellow citizens to at least offer. It’s painful to see individuals in the LGBT community be so complacent and negligent in their lack of prioritization of development in terms of a self-defense mindset and training.

I explained to a BBC reporter from the UK recently that while there is, of course, no way to know for sure if a well-trained, well-armed individual could have made a difference that night inside of Pulse, it certainly would have changed the odds.

Armed Equality Educational Classes

We have seen time and time again the difference between mass murder incidents where the aggressor is immediately confronted with force, versus those where they go unchecked until eventually, finally, someone shows up to confront them after the damage has already been maximized.

John: What is your background when it comes to guns?

Piper: It’s funny, I get questions on social media all the time from people that have relatively in-depth questions about the mechanics of particular firearm models, etc., and I always have to correct their assumption that I know a lot of firearms themselves. I really don’t.

I refer them to our 2,000+ national Facebook group where their questions can be answered by true hardware experts.

I own more bolted-down safes, alarm systems, and guard dogs than I do firearms! To me, firearms are tools, each type with a specific and niche purpose. I care a lot more about the inalienable right to self-defense that supersedes the Second Amendment.

I feel I understand quite well the intentions of the founding fathers in their creation of the Second Amendment. I believe their micro level intention was for individual self-defense from all deadly threats. I believe their macro-level intention was for societal self-defense and deterrent against a tyrannical government.

I believe the LGBT community would do well to remember that the Japanese were rounded up based on US Census data. I think the LGBT community would do well to remember that we were rounded up right alongside the Jewish people in WWII.

I believe LGBT individuals should also examin their local 911 response times and consider just how many minutes they think they can withstand an attack from multiple aggressors.

John: If you believe the media, the LGBT community falls on the left of the political spectrum, and gun owners are more right wing. Is it hard convincing people that these stereotypes are not always true?

Piper: I think we all know that a majority of LGBT Americans lean left and a majority of firearm owners lean right. It doesn’t take too much analysis to figure out why this has trended the way that it has.

Social conservatives have treated their LGBT fellow Americans quite poorly, to say the least, for entirely too long. Privileged liberals have treated their fellow Americans of whom exercise their civil rights in relation to self-defense quite poorly, to say the least, for entirely too long.

The mainstream media on all sides loves division, loves conflict, loves the money that is raked in from the viewership and the ‘clicks.’ 30,000+ hours of political science study left me pretty jaded toward our two-party system, and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling these days. I judge individuals and issues on an individual and case by case basis.

Armed Equality training others to shoot.

As a member of the Liberal Gun Club, The NRA, Firearms Policy Coalition, Second Amendment Foundation, San Diego County Gun Owners, California Rifle & Pistol Association, and so many state-level groups I can’t keep track. I can tell you one thing above all else: the right to self-defense and the tools needed to do so effectively is undeniably one of the most important civil rights to exist since humans began walking this planet.

John: There is so much division in the gun community. How do we bridge the gap between different pro-2A groups?

Piper: This is something that has been very disheartening for me to discover.

As I have developed more and more contacts and friends within the 2A community, I have become privy to an ever-increasing amount of backstory and drama between various 2A entities.

I try to remember that I think this is relatively normal for all topic-specific communities. It’s certainly true within the LGBT community.

One of the many reasons why I started Armed Equality was because I found it nauseating to see the largest well-funded LGBT groups in the US act as if they speak for all LGBT Americans when they push ignorant anti-civil rights perspectives and legislation when it comes to our right to practical self-defense.

John: Expanding the 2A community will be essential to safeguarding our rights as Americans. How can the everyday gun owner help with this effort?

Piper: I have reflected on this often since attending SHOT Show and NRAAM this year. I have come to a similar conclusion as I did many years ago when studying political science in college and engaged in some libertarian activism.

That conclusion is that I think most Americans are under the impression that they have little to no chance of truly influencing our government. I have personally seen ample evidence that this is simply not accurate, especially when it comes to the state and local levels.

One of the primary reasons we have the ability to get concealed carry permits right here in San Diego is due to a local 2A PAC named “San Diego County Gun Owners.” As important and influential lawsuits dragged on regarding concealed carry and “good cause” requirements (still dragging on…) SDCGO got involved in very direct and very impactful ways when it came time for elections of local leaders.

The right to effective self-defense was only enshrined in the Constitution after significant direct action by a relatively small number of Americans. Even back then political tribalism and division were the norms, so don’t let that dissuade you from wading into the fray.

If you truly, absolutely, and honestly believe you just can’t spare the time to get involved directly, then I would encourage all who profess to understand the importance of the right to keep and bear arms to put their money where their social media mouths are. Join their local 2A group, their state-level 2A group and whichever national 2A group best represents them. In that order.

  1. Do not underestimate the impact you can have…
  2. Do not underestimate the impact you can have.

John: How fast is the gun culture growing in the LGBT community?

Piper: I think I see it more as an intersection and overlap between niche communities that are already a part of the larger American community.

As we bridge these unnecessary traditional divides more and more, people are starting to realize that their neighbors aren’t the demons the media wants us to see. We all pretty much seek the same life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness as we do our best to make ends meet and overcome the curve balls of life.

We forget that all too often.

John: AmmoLand ran a nationally syndicated cartoon that you thought was divisive. What was offensive about the image? Was it the depiction, or the message?

Piper: “Offensive” or “Offended” are unfortunately words with little meaning left these days.

Second amendment Celebration Dinner
Second amendment Celebration Dinner

Essentially, all of the above.

I could break it down in terms of the reprehensible depiction. I could break it down in terms of the misleading and ignorant message. I could launch into an explanation about the hard science of endocrinology in relation to the topic.

Instead, I do my absolute best to remain positive and focused even as hate is thrown my way for what I do.

When I talk to the Liberal Gun Club, I get called out by the right-leaning 2A crowd. When I talk to the National Rifle Association, I get called out by the left-leaning 2A crowd. When I talk to the 2A community at all, I get called out by the anti-2A crowd. When I talk to the anti-2A crowd, I get called out by the 2A community.

I seek to understand people, and I firmly believe that most people truly see themselves as the good guys. We are all ignorant about 99.99%+ of this universe, and I will never fault a person or an organization for being ignorant on a particular topic.

I do, however, recommend that individuals and/or organizations should consider refraining from commenting on topics of which they are ignorant.

When I meet a heart surgeon at a cocktail party, I don’t tell them my firm and poorly-founded opinion on a particular heart surgery technique that I heard about for 7 minutes from a talk show host who for whatever reason is anti-heart surgery. I might, however, bring it up and ask for his subject matter expertise should he feel inclined to share it.

Beyond all of this, the much larger issue is that the image was placed under the banner of “GUN RIGHTS NEWS.” It was without a doubt, undeniably, and objectively NOT Gun Rights News.

At the end of the day, we need to remember that protecting and defending our right to effectively defend ourselves is INFINITELY more important than whatever the hot button poorly understood social wedge of the moment happens to be. The Second Amendment needs as many individuals defending it as possible; because of this fact, we should be very careful what we think is truly worth alienating allies over.

John: What is your stance on the Equality Act? (Note: This is Piper’s personal stance and should not be considered the stance of Armed Equality.)

Piper: If the purpose of “The Equality Act” is that the Civil Rights Act be amended to include LGBT Americans, I support it. I say this as someone who once gave entire deontological argumentation-based lectures for and against it from the angle of libertarian property rights theory.

Here is why…

In the vast majority of Americans states, even now in 2019, there are little to no legal protections preventing LGBT Americans from getting fired the day after they marry the love of their life. In the vast majority of Americans states, even now in 2019, there are little to no legal protections preventing LGBT Americans from getting discriminated against in their medical treatment.

I believe this is undeniably morally unjust.

For many years now we have seen conservative/Republican leaders fall back on a federalism objection stating that they don’t have a problem protecting LGBT Americans but that they want to see it done via the legislative branch as opposed to the executive branch. (note that this claim was primarily made while ‘their guy’ wasn’t occupying the executive branch).

Now here we are in 2019 with the Equality Act in Congress, and you probably won’t be too surprised with how many names supporting it are beside a (D) rather than an (R). I firmly believe that many Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this specific issue and that they are likely to regret not altering their position sooner.

John: A lot of people are against the act because it expands “public accommodations” to goods and services. Some think that it is a response to the baker that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. Would you be OK with the bill if there was an exemption written in for people with religious objections to things like providing services for gay weddings? (Note: This is Piper’s personal stance and should not be considered the stance of Armed Equality.)

Piper: I am currently planning my wedding with my female fiancée.

When I started contacting venues, I was very upfront in asking if they considered themselves to be LGBT-inclusive.

While they all responded in the affirmative, the way in which they responded was noticeably different. Never wanting to misconstrue intention, we met with them all. Sure enough, the “vibe” on the topic matched the words chosen in their initial responses.

We obviously went with the venue of which was unquestionably inclusive and met all of our needs. We live in California, and with or without the federal Equality Act we enjoy the privilege of having equivalent state-level protections.

Now here is where things get tricky, and we all need to dig deep and consider the following…

There are millions of LGBT Americans living in states that do NOT have the state level legal protections we have, and may NOT have a variety of selection in their region to where they can find and choose an LGBT-inclusive provider.

If I recall correctly, this was one of the primary reasons why the original civil rights act was needed in the first place. It’s easy to say that the state forcing any private property owner to do anything is immoral.

Piper Smith on Good Morning San Diego
Piper Smith on Good Morning San Diego

It’s difficult to empathize with your fellow Americans of whom you may never have met in person who are living their lives in the face of abject hate and discrimination in parts of this nation.

John: Thank you for taking the time in answering our questions. Anything else you want the readers to know?

Piper: Stand up for your civil rights, stand up for inclusivity, stand up for growing the 2A community, stand up for fellow Americans of all kinds,
and never forget…

Armed Equality is real equality.

About John Crump

John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot-News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.

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Rock R

First of all, you couldn’t find a better picture of MS Smith ????? Also, you asked her about the cake baking, that to me was someone looking for a fight and they got one…. Would you really want someone to bake (or do anything for you) that hates you or is intolerant of you that much ???? Second about being fired, good employees are hard to find, and the employer would be stupid to fire a good employee over that, and the employee would be kind of not so smart to keep working for an employer that was that intolerant….… Read more »

Greg K

Great! Piper and I have at least 2 common interests.


I saw the cartoon and did not interpret it as anti-LGBTQ at all. It appeared intended to focus on a growing problem n women’s sports. There is a reason Ts competing as women in strength and speed sports seems to result in the Ts winning regularly. I don’t pretend to know if that can ever change. There are many other sports in which there would be no problem. The concern with the Equality Act is that it would be another Lawyers’ Benefit Act. A transgender woman who was disqualified in a sport would claim it was primarily because she was… Read more »

Reilly Bodycomb

Thanks to Ammoland for acknowledging their misguided post by removing it, and for interviewing Piper Smith after to add context. Thank you to Piper Smith for bringing a nuanced perspective to these often over-simplified discussions.

Heed the Call-up

The cartoon was not denigrating the LGBT community, it was recognizing that one born of a particular chromosome set defined as male generally has physical characteristics that generally makes him physically stronger. Competitive sports have kept males and females separated for mostly that reason, money is also the other reason. Women’s sports have never generated the same levels of fan-base and attendance as similar male-dominated sports, and therefore, there is less money and the women get less pay. Due to the money issue, I seriously doubt we will ever see an LGBT National basketball or football league. There are some… Read more »


Women pro tennis players make more money than the males do. This despite the fact they need only 2 out of 3 sets maximum to win, whereas the men play 3 of 5 sets.

That’s the only sport that I know of, where women earn more than men.

Unless you count “prostitution”.

Heed the Call-up

Luis, so you propose that men should be allowed to compete with women in tennis? A quick Internet search shows that women earn less than men. I had difficulty finding “current” information, most dated back to 2017 or earlier, but a quote in a June 2017 story stated Ion Tiriac, the owner of the Madrid Open, argued that it made no sense for him to pay women the same when they produced so much less in TV revenue. The story did state that women do earn equal pay in the majors and three other tournaments, but that isn’t more pay,… Read more »

Matisse Enzer

Excellent interview. Thank you Piper and Ammoland.

Roy D.

Isn’t that cute. An article from Ammoland that says, “Look at us we’re not those evil right wing people.” How about we just let people decide on their own how to treat others and not mandate it in the law. I am currently providing “doggie daycare”, free of charge, for someone who happens to be a lesbian. I am doing it because my younger daughter-in-law asked if I would do it to help her coworker; they are both teachers. The most important item in the article, as far as I am concerned, is the mentioning that the police did not… Read more »


Everyone should be able to walk down the street without fear of attack. Unfortunately People of Alternative Affections (PoAA) are more likely to be attacked on the basis of the attackers’ stereotypical perceptions regarding them. More and different laws are not effective at preventing assault because the law only gets involved after the fact. The average mouth breather who would attack PoAA (or anyone else on the basis of stereotypes and malice) is not deterred because s/he does not think that far ahead. Getting more “Justice”, i.e. giving it to the assailant more and harder (double secret illegal, ala Animal… Read more »


Well, thank you, Ms. Smith. I agree with your point of view on the individual and I applaud your work and vision behind Armed Equality. Y’all can shoot with me anytime. I’m not there on the lgbqtxyz, whatever culture and culture-equality. Jesus tells us to love the person but hate the sinful deeds so bring your individual buddies, let’s work on technique and shoot some steel then throw something on the grill, pop a cold one and talk philosophy. You’ll have to come out to Texas so we can use regular mags and carbines but we have plenty of room.… Read more »


I really don’t care what your sexual orientation is, but for the love of all that’s holy quit shoving your lifestyle down our throats! I fully support EVERYONE’S right to bear arms. Stop trying to cause division in the 2A community with your “I’m offended” garbage. I’m offended by your lifestyle but I also believe you have the same 2A rights as any other American. The 2A community is probably the most “inclusive” community you’ll find…Q: ”Ya like guns and gun rights?” A: “Yup”…congrats your accepted. You turn people away when you have to spout your alternative lifestyle which I… Read more »


Glad to have you in the 2A community, Piper. Thanks for your work.


You idiots on here don’t understand that this is a olive branch between the left community and the gun community. If we are going to win the fight to preserve our gun rights the bigots are going to have to swallow their pride and work with everyone that wants the 2nd amendment to live on. The more people we can get on our side the better. If they are willing to stand for our rights, shouldn’t we back there play. Don’t be stupid guys, way things are going we can’t do it on our own. We need all the minds… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Bonedaddy, it isn’t bigoted to not accept certain “lifestyles”. Your post is intolerant of others’ views. Some people believe in Biblical mores and ethics and live their lives that way. Others, such as myself, are Atheist, and have arrived at our beliefs based on knowledge and life experience. Tolerance and acceptance are two very different concepts that you appear not to understand. To live in society, one has to tolerate others, but one does not need to accept certain behaviors and lifestyles. That is not being bigoted. I don’t like those that proselytize, regardless of it being their “lifestyle” or… Read more »


True. It was a Moslem that shot up the bar, a practitioner of Islam.

That’s like saying it was Christianity that bombed that Bantu church in Birmingham, AL in 1963.

In the first case, all the other Moslems in the world probably said prayers of thanks to Allah.


Is it not hypocritical to say “stand up for your rights” while holding the opinion that it is okay to use the power of government to force some people to “accommodate” others? My race, sex, beliefs, opinions and preferences don’t endow me with any more or less rights than you or anyone else. Yet some people seem think that their attributes or preferences mean that they can and should be allowed to force others to accept them, and punish those that don’t. Since government has been granted the power to do just that, some people are “more equal than others,”… Read more »


oh good lord!Give us a damn break!!fat lezbos with guns,that hate everyone ,everything and especially -themselves,great…just what we need…more derangle mentally disturbed people with guns…


So you believe gun control should exist and stop certain people from owning guns?


Classy. Let me remind you that the second amendment protects the right of ALL Americans to bear arms and it SHALL NOT be infringed.


Here’s a perfect example these kinds don’t need guns. My lesbian niece shot herself right square in the head 2 years ago over an argument with it’s husband-wife. These are dangerous mentally disturbed people, 98% of them are drug addicts, how I know refer my first sentence I written. Bang I’m dead..Any hoot for those who believe in Christianity you can understand where I’m coming from, not hard to figure that out. So there again these types are mentally deranged people that don’t need guns, period.


Wow. You are just a fountain of generalization! For your info, in spite of what you may have been taught a person’s gender is not relative to the gender of their significant other. Your niece is not a man-woman because she married a woman, she’s a woman who loves a woman, and her wife likewise, is not a husband because she married a woman. Christianity finds killing another person to be rather objectionable. I think the words on the tablet said something to the tune of “thou shalt not”. If we’re going to start applying Christian rules to gun ownership,… Read more »

Heed the Call-up

Dubya, Jesus also called homosexuality an abomination and would not accept not approve of “gay” marriage. Again, the issue is about acceptance versus tolerance in our society. We tolerate others, we do not have to accept their lifestyles and behaviors. He is allowed to call his niece’s “significant other” whatever he wants, if he offends them, they are neither required to accept nor tolerate it if he uses those words in their presence. Also, he didn’t state he is a Christian, he stated “for those who believe in Christianity you can understand where I’m coming from.” His intolerance is not… Read more »


I’ll wait while you pull up the passage where the son of God refers to homosexuality as an abomination. I did not call this man a christian, I simply called to light the irony of his use of the religion as a way of justifying his bigotry. I would wager, however that since his niece took her own life, it very well could be that his beliefs and words had an effect on their lives. But more likely, given that the man is a bigot and clearly unable to decide on even a name for himself, that he is also… Read more »


Be careful, Heed…

The biblical descriptions of homosexuality as an “abomination” – and that word does NOT mean evil, by the way – is found in the Old Testament (Leviticus, primarily). The record of Jesus’ life is in the New Testament, where Jesus never referenced homosexuality in any way (positively or negatively). He was absolutely silent on the issue that we 21st Century denizens now call homosexuality.

Heed the Call-up

Joe, I never stated it means evil, nor did I state such. Dubya brought up religion, not me. While not being a Biblical scholar, I do know that Paul spoke of homosexuality, and the Old Testament also spoke of it. I doubt Paul’s views differed that far from Jesus’ and I doubt Jesus didn’t believe in the views of homosexuality as in the Old Testament He also stated marriage being between a man and women and becoming one flesh. If he believed in “gay” marriage, he wouldn’t have stated marriage is between a man and a woman. I am an… Read more »


You seem to forget that the Ten Commandments were give to a Jew, Moses. Therefore, one can conclude that ONLY JEWS should obey the Ten Commandments (emphasis added), and Christians are not bound by them.

As far as Christianity finding “killing another person to be rather objectionable”, I say that it depends on the situation. If someone were to break into my residence to try to harm me, I’d shoot to defend myself.


Here’s a great example of why these bigots don’t need guns. They are so full of hate, they must generalize their ignorance to an entire class of people, kind of like the people who believed blacks shouldn’t be allowed to vote because of racist reasons…


I saw the original cartoon just before it was taken down, and while it was a deeply poor judgement to post it in the first place, I have to say I am impressed by how Ammoland responded. I try not to judge people or businesses by the mistakes they make, but by the way they handle them. We all deserve that courtesy because none of us are perfect. Thanks for this article, this kind of perspective is important in uniting the 2A community.


Good to hear from someone so intelligent, even if she is a “cake-baker”.
A nice break from the monotony of shallow conservative cliche normally around gun sites. I see in her the liberal, antifederalist spirit of 1776.

Heed the Call-up

Austin, your ignorant stereo-type of people here is duly noted. If you truly are a reader of this site, you would know your stereo-type is a Leftist meme, and not at all an accurate description of the readers here and of firearm owners in general. She didn’t strike me as intelligent, but then your phrase “so intelligent” isn’t a qualitative, nor quantitative descriptor of her intelligence, leaving it to the reader to derive its meaning. Another mark of an ignorant troll. If she believed in liberty, she wouldn’t be trying to push her values upon the rest of us. Life,… Read more »