2021 is rolling along as we turn another leaf with the end of February and start of March. Having just left Black History Month, the Chicago Tribune on March 1st released an article chronicling the increasing number of African Americans that have decided to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. The release date can be considered odd, or really, ironic given the subject matter.
There’s no denying that large numbers numbers of Americans are arming themselves has increased, including increasing amount of people of color that are entering into the fold. As reported on the ratio of gun ownership:
In 2017, the Pew Research Center released a study that captured some of the complexities of gun ownership. Only 1 in 4 Black people reported having a gun, compared to 1 in 3 white people, and they were far more likely to believe that more guns mean more crime.
With more information backed up by a study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, they found that:
During the first half of 2020, retailers noted that the overall makeup of their customers consisted of 55.8 percent white males, 16.6 percent white females, 9.3 percent Black males, 5.4 percent Black females, 6.9 percent Hispanic males, 2.2 percent Hispanic females, 3.1 percent Asian males and 0.7 percent Asian females. The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women who show a 58.2 percent increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year.
What is most noticeably absent from the article are two important cases that came from Chicago specifically. The most important lawsuit in a post-Heller world affecting the Second Amendment is McDonald v. City of Chicago. It was the McDonald case that lifted restrictions for the purchase and possession of handguns in all of the States in the United States, specifically overturning the ban on handguns that Chicago had put in place back in the early 1980s.
The second case involves the ability to practice and train in the city of Chicago, with the city previously having a ban on any ranges being allowed to be opened in the city limits. That case was Ezell v Chicago. Spoiler alert, both the late Otis McDonald and Rhonda Ezell are black gun owners, but the Tribune piece completely glosses over their contributions to the right to keep and bear arms in the city, with only a brief mention of the Ezell case.
Chicago banned gun ranges until a lawsuit, filed by a Black plaintiff, forced it to back down. But since that federal appellate court decision in 2017, the city is still without a range.
As Black History Month is in our rearview mirrors, it is important to give credit where credit is due. The fact that these very two prominent and important civil rights cases were ignored by the Tribune could be just an oversight, but if so, it’s a big one. Perhaps the Tribune did not think these two people and their cases were important enough to list them by their names? Yes, there are more and more people of color becoming gun owners and it is all thanks to patriots like McDonald and Ezell that had the courage to stand up for what was right. I spoke with Rhonda Ezell to get her take on the Tribune article, and her response should be read by the Tribune editors.
I just find it very odd that every time they do an article on firearm ownership in the black community, they always leave out the most important part, which is the plaintiffs that put their lives on the line to fight for all Americans. I don’t know if it’s on purpose, or they just don’t like the fact that we took on the political powers to be and won…I think our historical second amendment cases should be discussed and shared with the general public as much as possible.
Further contributions from black gun owners to the Second Amendment community continue to occur, regardless of whether or not the media deigns to cover them. To list all the patriotic African Americans that are fighting for and continuing to advocate for these important civil rights, would be difficult, as there are many, but to all our new gun owners out there, welcome to the fold.
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John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii