On Tuesday, HuffPost published an article with the headline, “Why Black People Own Guns.” It asked 11 black gun owners “what gun ownership means in a country determined to keep its black populace unarmed.” Their answers are brutally honest.
David White from Atlanta is a recent gun owner and said that he has every intention to open carry because it’s an “American right.” He said: “I feel like I should be able to do it ― not only to protect myself but also to protect, potentially, the lives of others in the rare situation that I could find myself positioned to do so.”
I am not worried about my interactions with the police ― and I know that’s probably startling to hear given some of the recent events in our country.
Kendall Marr from Topeka, Kansas, explained that guns are a part of life in Texas, where he grew up, and that he primarily owned guns because he enjoys hunting.
He also said:
There are people who don’t have the right mindset to have handguns, people who aren’t responsible with guns. Those people shouldn’t have them. But, yes, I feel safer with a firearm. And changing the laws of what firearms you can carry isn’t going to change the mind of someone who wants to do something illegal. I’m a guy who likes to do things by the book, and I want to be able to protect myself against people who don’t.
Courtney Cable from Detroit owns a Smith & Wesson 9mm and said: “If I’m going out any day or at night, I always carry it. If I’m coming in my house, I always have it out ready to walk into my home. You know, it’s just day to day.” Then she said she felt more vulnerable as a 5-foot-11-inch female and that was her way of defense.
I do feel safer with a firearm even though I’m still nervous, I’m scared, I’m afraid. When I am protected, and my gun is unlocked and loaded, I feel as though I have a chance. It’s either gonna be me or you ― and I can’t be afraid of whatever happens at that point.
Carlton LeFlore from Winter Garden, Florida, said: “I have a hammer for my home improvement. I have my gun for self-protection. They’re just tools to me.”
I was always told that guns were bad. You shouldn’t have a gun, you shouldn’t own a gun ― especially for a young black male, you shouldn’t own a gun because you’ll be looked at as a thug, a criminal or a gangster. …
I started to see on the news that there were a number of home invasions happening around our city. That motivated me enough to get a gun at least for home protection. I started doing my research to see what was the best shotgun, the laws of the state, the laws of the city and what my Second Amendment rights were in regards to self-defense. …
There’s a 50-50 chance that you can still die or perish at the hands of somebody else with a gun or a knife or a car or any other weapon. But it’s that 50 percent chance that I will take over a 100 percent chance of not being able to defend myself. I think what people don’t understand about guns is that if you practice responsible gun ownership, meaning that you follow the rules of gun safety ― keep your gun off the trigger, always treat your gun like it’s loaded, keep it pointed downrange at the shooting range and don’t point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy ― you won’t have accidents.
He went on to say that he’s gotten nothing but encouragement from police about owning a gun.
Maj Toure from Philadelphia is the founder of Black Guns Matter and works to educate and conduct free training sessions on firearm safety.
America would not have even been created without firearms. Some people say it’s a contradiction for me as an African-American man to have a position: ‘When they wrote the Second Amendment, they didn’t mean it for you.’ I don’t give a f**k who they meant it for. It’s mine now.
He also said that “when you start paying attention to the Second Amendment, you start having more of a value for all of the other amendments.” Those same people will start getting more involved in politics and show up at school board meetings to talk with their city councils.
The others interviewed had a different approach. Rodney Jackson from Plano, Texas, said he noticed not many black people concealed carried and that when he went to a gun show, almost everyone was white. He made the decision to “pitch potential black gun owners on the safety aspect and that it is actually our right to be able to carry a weapon because of the Second Amendment.”
But Jackson said that he didn’t feel any safer with his gun because “if you don’t pull yours first, you almost stand no chance.” Instead, he explains that he carries so that in case something breaks out that is not directed at him, he has a better chance of “getting out of there.”
James from western Pennsylvania said he doesn’t feel any safer with a firearm and that he no longer carries for personal protection and instead just owns guns for sport. He requires his children to play with their paintball and Nerf guns in the back of the house out of fear a police officer will take it the wrong way if they are seen.
RJ Young from Tusla, Oklahoma, explained that he feels less safe now that he’s a gun owner because he’s “probably more likely to have harm done” to him if a cop stops him while driving. He also said that he doesn’t anticipate using his gun to protect himself from intruders in his house because “if they shoot me or I shoot them, then nothing gets resolved.”
He concluded that if he shot someone invading his house, he’d just be a “cowboy who shot an outlaw.” Instead, he says that he would rather “knock that person unconscious with one of the candle holders” he keeps around so that they could walk away handcuffed and go through the system of justice.
Many of those interviewed by HuffPost said they were worried about the question “are you carrying” from a police officer if they were pulled over.
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