Americans are arming themselves with guns at a record pace, especially Black Americans, whose gun ownership jumped 58.2% in 2020.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Black Americans are running to the gun store to purchase firearms. Black Americans have a number of reasons for purchasing guns and according to The Guardian, they include stress from the pandemic, the resurgence of mass shootings, and armed white protestors rallying against lockdown orders and in support of White supremacy.
Even when purchasing a firearm, many Black Americans experience racism of prejudice from white gun store owners. That has pushed many Black Americans to join Black gun clubs or seek training from Black gun instructors.
“June 2020 – when the riots were hitting different cities – my students increased,” Rogers Anderson, the commander of the Black Gun Owners Association’s Oakland/Bay Area chapter told The Guardian. “Now 99.9% of my students are either single Black women or Black women with children who fear for their safety.”
Black gun ownership has always been synonymous with protecting Black neighborhoods and people. After the Civil War, many freed Black men and women took up firearms to protect themselves and their communities.
During the civil rights movement, figures including Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. carried firearms. Black groups such as the Black Panthers also carried firearms and trained their members to use firearms. Last year amid the Black Lives Matter movement, several large Black gun organizations such as the Not F*cking Around Coalition (NAFC) held several marches fully armed.
Many Black firearm groups have formed in recent years as the National Rifle Association continues to ignore the rise of Black firearm ownership. Additionally, many Black people group the NRA in with other white supremacist and racist organizations.
Groups like the Black Gun Owners Association and the National African American Gun Association have gained notoriety in recent years as Black Americans rush to learn to use firearms. Their memberships began to rise significantly after the death of Philando Castile, a legal firearm owner who was shot and killed by a police officer after informing the officer that he had a firearm.
The end of the Trump administration has only increased gun sales as many fear the Biden administration will curb the sale and use of firearms in America.