The former pacifist pumped a shotgun at the firing line. Lore McSpadden never touched a gun before the Trigger Warning Queer & Trans Gun Club started this past year. Now McSpadden is among the shooters routinely yelling, "Pull!" and blasting at clay pigeons angling over a mowed field near Rochester.
Trigger Warning members are anxious about armed and organized extremists who seem increasingly emboldened. Their response has a touch of symmetry to it: They started a club to teach members how to take up arms.
"It's a way to assert our strength," said Jake Allen, 27, who helped form the group. "Often, queer people are thought of as being weak, as being defenseless, and I think in many ways this pushes back against that. And I want white supremacists and neo-Nazis to know that queer people are taking steps necessary to protect themselves."
Trigger Warning members meet once a month to shoot still targets and saucer-shaped pigeons. The 18 dues-paying members are all LGBTQ, many just learning about guns.
"I identified as a pacifist really through most of my life," said McSpadden, 37, who has attended a self-defense seminar and now owns a 20-gauge shotgun.
On a recent evening, their instructor showed novices how to pull a .22-caliber rifle snugly to their shoulders and how to aim slightly ahead of a moving target. Members cheered when shooters shattered a pigeon or hit a bull's-eye.
The light mood belies the apprehension that led to group's creation this past winter amid a year marked by politically tinged violence ranging from scuffles at protests to a violent clash of white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more via NBC