With membership skyrocketing, Black gun group touts 'inalienable' 2A rights for self-defense
When the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a rise in firearms sales, the National Library of Medicine (NIH) found Black Americans among the fastest-growing segment of gun owners.
Over the weekend, 1,500 Black firearm owners attended the first-ever convention of the National Association of African American Gun Owners, or NAAGA, in Atlanta.
The group's website describes it as a “pro-2nd Amendment organization focused on the preservation of our community through armed protection and community building” and as a “hub and network for all African American firearm owners, organizations, gun clubs and outdoor enthusiasts.”
Douglas Jefferson, NAAGA Executive Vice President, said, like everyone else, that Black Americans are buying guns for personal safety.
"Too many in our community… actually live in communities where there are African Americans who have either victimized them or victimized friends and family," Jefferson said.
It's one reason the NIH reports more Black women are buying guns.
Akeithea Bost, who teaches firearms safety classes with NAAGA, sees more women buying guns.
"There have been so many reasons why women have been victimized, and so we want to empower them," Bost said.
An equally important reason for the increase in Black people purchasing firearms is a change in the historical perception of gun ownership.
"That whole gun thing was taboo," said Myloreal Anderson, a NAAGA member and firearms trainer. "A whole lot of times growing up in our type of culture, a whole lot of people were like, 'Don't touch guns. Don't do that.'"
Jefferson and Anderson believe America's gun laws were "put in place specifically to make sure that African Americans could not carry firearms."
"When you look at the history of 2A (Second Amendment) and that gun culture, some people feel a lot of times people feel that gun laws may not have been created equally for us," Anderson said.
Since Atlantan Phillip Smith founded NAAGA in 2015, membership has skyrocketed to 50,000 people feel connected to the group's mission "to establish a fellowship by educating on the rich legacy of gun ownership by African Americans, offering training that supports safe gun use for self-defense and sportsmanship, and advocating for the inalienable right to self-defense for African Americans."
"The majority of African American gun owners are good, upstanding citizens," Jefferson said. "They're not criminals. They're not doing things illegal or immoral when it comes to firearms."