US Gun sales rise among Black people as they look for firearm training and education
Rising crime rejuvenates gun control debate on campaign trail
The battle over gun control is emerging as a campaign issue heading into the midterms as gun violence rises in the U.S.The country has seen a wave of gun-related deaths as it reopens amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive for NBC News, firearm deaths increased by 15 percent last month compared to the same period in 2019.Republicans have attributed the rise in violence to progressive efforts to reform and in some cases direct funds away from police departments. But Democrats say gun policies are at the heart of the issue.
Deborah Roberts grew up in a family of gun owners. But it wasn't until March this year that the 68-year-old finally pulled the trigger and purchased her own firearm.
"I think the rhetoric and how things are stirred up in the country just made me feel like, if not now, then when," Roberts told CNN Sunday morning at the South River Gun Club in Convington, Georgia, with gun shots ringing nearby.
It was Ladies Day at the range, an event put on by the National African American Gun Association's Atlanta (NAAGA) chapter. More than a dozen women, some for the first time, came out to work on their shooting and learn about firearm safety -- and to have fun doing it.
San Jose mayor: Gun owners should cover the cost of gun violence (Opinion)
My gun control proposals include two measures that no other city nor state in the United States has ever tried: mandatory gun insurance to support victims, and mandatory gun fees to compensate taxpayers, writes Sam Liccardo. As with many other Silicon Valley innovations, we intend to implement and test these ideas, learn from our mistakes, improve, iterate and provide a platform for others to scale them to benefit their own communities. First, we will require every gun owner in my city to have liability insurance, regardless of where they purchased their gun.
All but one of them is African American.
They're not alone:, these women are part of the growing coalition of gun owners that is increasingly made up of people of color, experts say.
About 40% of gun buyers in 2020 purchased a firearm for the first time, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), an industry trade group that compares the FBI's background check data with sales data.
And customers are increasingly diverse. Surveys last year showed a 58% increase of African American gun buyers in 2020 compared to 2019, NSSF spokesperson Mark Oliva told CNN, more than any other racial group.
MLB updates COVID protocols for vaccinated players, staff
Most notably, fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus. © Omar Ornelas via Imagn Content Services, LLC The handling of fully vaccinated individuals drew some attention last month after Nationals starter Erick Fedde tested positive for the coronavirus. Fedde, who had been fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic, was forced to go on the injured list. (Between his initial isolation period and subsequent rehab, he ultimately missed just more than three weeks of action.
"Today's gun buyer is shattering tired and worn-out stereotypes of who owns a gun," Oliva said in an email. "Today's gun owner is younger, includes more women, more minorities and doesn't just look like the rest of America. They are America."
'They want training'
Philip Smith, president of NAAGA, said his organization has seen "dramatic growth -- probably well over 58% in the last year."
"We're buying guns in bunches, all over the country, at the same time, day in and day out," he told CNN.
NAAGA is seeing about a thousand new members every month, Smith said, and they come from all walks of life -- plumbers, mechanics, teachers, doctors and lawyers.
Military lottery, scooter vandals, red tide: News from around our 50 states
Jail inmate elected to neighborhood council in D.C., New York’s Liberty Bell salvaged after church fire, and moreStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
"They want training," he said. "They want education."
Black firearms experts and enthusiasts who spoke to CNN pointed to several factors for the rise in gun purchases among African Americans. Chief among them is the social climate in the United States, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unrest last year following the police killing of George Floyd.
Mark Major, the owner of 2-Swords Tactical Defense, a store in Lithonia, Georgia, said he was not surprised by the uptick in purchases among African Americans.
"Whenever there's social unrest or people are concerned about their own safety, the lightbulb kind of goes off when they realize that they may not be able to wait for the police," he said.
About 90% of Major's clientele is Black, he said. At the moment, most are brand new to firearms and many are women. They're coming to his shop east of Atlanta with questions about which gun might be right for them, how to use a gun and how to store one safely, he told CNN.
"There's a lot of newbies that are really interested and really want to know and are really serious about protecting themselves and their families," Major said.
Slavery reckonings, Radio City’s return, marijuana movements: News from around our 50 states
Connecticut first to make prison phone calls free, Louisiana protects its iconic bald cypress trees, and moreStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
'You have a right to the Second Amendment'
Smith also credited a "maturation process within the Black community" for the spike in purchases.
"The narrative is changing," he said.
Previously, a Black gun owner -- or someone curious about purchasing a firearm -- might be worried about a certain stigma, he said. Smith said that five years ago, Googling the words "Black" and "gun" would result in "gangsters" with "grilled out teeth" and tattoos.
"Not that that's wrong, per se, but if that's the total image you have of us, that's a bad thing," he said. "Now Black folks are starting to understand, it's OK to have a gun."
But Smith acknowledged that there are a "different set of rules" for Black gun owners. NAAGA is supportive of law enforcement, but that's also true when it comes to their interactions with law enforcement.
Smith pointed to the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a Black man who was fatally shot in Minnesota in 2016 after he informed a police officer during a traffic stop that he had a gun in the car.
The officer, who wasin the shooting, testified he opened fire because he claimed Castile, who was licensed to carry, put his hand on the firearm instead of his wallet or ID. Castile's fiancée testified he was reaching for his license and registration.
Castile's death left Smith heartbroken, he said. But that shouldn't stop people from purchasing a gun and getting educated if they want to, he said.
"You cannot sit back and let somebody dictate your reality and put their values on you," he said. "If someone is uncomfortable with you carrying a gun and you're doing everything that's lawful, that you're supposed to, that's their issue."
"You have a right to the Second Amendment," Smith said.
Members of African American communities are coming to that realization, Major said. "We're starting to understand that we can protect ourselves, and there's a way to go about it," he said.
Back at the range in Covington, Carla Russell said that picking up a firearm gives her a feeling of "self empowerment," knowing she has the skill to protect herself.
"I'm a Black woman who can take care of myself and my family -- if I have to," she told CNN. "I don't want to, I shouldn't have to. But if I have to, I can."
Gun deaths rising in Iowa as new law removes handgun permits .
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Gun deaths are surging in Iowa as a law is set to go into effect Thursday that will allow people to more easily buy handguns and carry them in public without training or a permit. A record 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Iowa in 2020, including 263 suicides and 85 homicides, an Iowa Department of Public Health spokeswoman said Tuesday. The shooting deaths represent a 20% increase from Iowa's previous high in 2019,A record 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Iowa in 2020, including 263 suicides and 85 homicides, an Iowa Department of Public Health spokeswoman said Tuesday.