by Michael Cottman
“There is a high uptick of African-Americans buying guns across the country,” said Philip Smith, president of the 14,000-member National African-American Gun Association.
“We are enrolling members in gun clubs in record numbers and Black women are driving gun sales,” Smith said. “More women are buying guns and more women are thinking about buying guns and it’s connected to the political landscape right now.”
Consider this: As a result of Donald Trump’s victory — and the perception that white supremacist groups are intensifying — single Black women are purchasing more handguns to protect themselves against a perceived threat from racists.
“There is a tension in the air with the new political climate after the [presidential] election,” said Smith. “It’s very sobering.”
Gun shop owners have told gun enthusiasts like Smith that they are seeing as many as four times more African-American customers. Smith says his membership rolls increased dramatically during the four-day period after Trump was elected president.
Sixty percent of his members, Smith said, are Black women.
Tawana Watson started the “She Packs Heat Women Shooting” club in Cleveland, Ohio as a way to teach women to protect themselves. They shoot at the Urban Gun Range and meet every other week, according to AmericanWomenBearingArms.com.
But blogger Toni Ransom says the issue of Black women owning guns comes with potential hazards.
“Since the death of Sandra Bland in July 2015, many of us have begun to consider some tough questions. What if we encounter a racist or sexist officer?” Ransom wrote. “Will it matter that our weapon is legal, that we train regularly at the range, that we store it safely and follow the proper protocol to let the officer know we’re carrying? Or will our children grow up without a mother because we were protecting ourselves from the wrong people?”
According to the National African-American Gun Association, 19% of African-Americans nationwide own firearms. In 2015, this percentage is growing to include doctors, lawyers, dentists, business men and women, plumbers — and single moms.
“Many women, regardless of color, decide to get a weapon after leaving a violent and abusive relationship to protect them from a man they fear will punish them for leaving,” Ransom wrote.
The perception of African-Americans owning guns is changing, the NAAGA reported. In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey and found that only 29% of African-American households viewed gun ownership as positive. In 2015, that same survey showed a dramatic jump to 59% approval now that many African-American families see owning guns as a necessity.
And single Black women, I’m learning, are leading the way.