I’ve given Rochester, New York a fair share of grief this year, largely because of now-former Mayor Lovely Warren’s arrest on charges of illegally possessing a gun and subsequent sweetheart plea deal that allowed her to avoid prison and suffer the sole “punishment” of resigning her office a week before her term expired. That story still enrages me, but there is some good gun news to report from the Rochester area, and it has nothing to do with a Democratic politician avoiding punishment for violating the very gun control laws she claimed were so important to enforce.
Instead, I’m talking about Rochester’s first black gun club; the Rochester African-American Firearms Association, which now has about 40 members and was the subject of a downright glowing profile by the local Spectrum cable news outlet.
As he pulled the trigger on his pistol during a recent evening at The Firing Pin, a gun shop and range in Bergen, Genesee County, Paul Adell Jr. explained what drew him in.
“The shooting experience itself, it’s exhilarating,” said Adell. “That’s the beauty of shooting. It’s a sport.”
One which in 2019 led to the formation of a new group, formed out of the love and respect of guns.
“The conversation sparked, you know, who’s going to train these folks?” he said. “Do they know and have the information that they need?”
… “We want you to understand that you don’t always have to use your firearm,” said Mark Cochrane, a firearms instructor who is retired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “But if you do have to, you should be confident and proficient.”
RAAFA promotes not just gun safety and proficiency, but also self-defense and de-escalation tactics. Its members are drawn to the club for a number of reasons.
“I knew that I wanted to be able to keep my household safe,“ said Jasmine Barksdale.
“It’s almost like a family,” added Quinn Lawrence. “They welcome you here.”
There is also the social aspect. The camaraderie of belonging to a club of like-minded people. But safe and responsible gun ownership is the biggest reason for RAAFA’s existence.
“The question, a lot of time gets asked is, well, why do African-Americans need a gun club?” Said Adell. “I think the answer to that is simple. I think that we exist because we need to.”
There’s more good stuff at the link above, including a poke at the ineffectiveness of the SAFE Act and a “Second Amendment is for everybody” ethos that’s great to see promoted by a news outlet.
As several of the members noted, one of the reasons why legal gun ownership is up is because violent crime is becoming more common. I was frankly astounded that Spectrum News didn’t counter that opinion with a talking head from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence or Moms Demand Action arguing that actually, owning a gun makes you a zillion times more likely to be the victim of “gun violence,” which would normally be the case. Instead, wanting to protect yourself was simply presented as a reasonable response to rising violent crime. That shouldn’t be noteworthy, but it’s such a rare occasion that it immediately stood out.
Hopefully this is a sign of progress. At the very least, it’s an example to other local media on how to cover the responsible gun owners in their midst; take them seriously, listen to what they have to say, and learn about what led them to embrace and exercise their Second Amendment rights. Treat them like you already treat gun control activists, in other words.