A South Florida gun club has taken aim at helping an underserved community when it comes to second amendment rights – the black community.
Travis Campbell opened the South Florida Black Arms Gun Club with the intent of specifically serving the general black community in South Florida. In an interview with a Florida radio station, Campbell says he didn’t really see people who looked like him at the gun range, and he wanted to change that and give black Americans in South Florida a safe place to learn about firearms alongside their own community.
As a black man here in South Florida, going to the range I didn’t see people who looked like me. I just felt there was a necessity to try and create something that would attract black people and also bring new African-American, Caribbean and Afro-Latinos into the fold of the shooting community.
Campbell says he makes an effort to talk about the history of the second amendment for black Americans. Many people who come through the club don’t realize how important the second amendment was during the Civil Rights movement.
We do talk about the history of the black gun owner in the Americas, in particular dating back [to] the influence of guns within the civil rights movement, which is a part of history that’s not really spoken about starting with the Deacons of Defense in the South and how they were acting as bodyguards for a lot of the movement members.
Breaking down stereotypes is also one of Campbell’s goals. He doesn’t want the “thug” narrative to be what people see when they see a black man with a gun and the more legal, trained black gun owners there are the better. The gun club brings in a certified firearms instructor from the NRA to help keep members informed and practiced in safety and technique.
In the interview, Campbell touches on the recent controversy of police shootings of black men across the country, in particular, the Philando Castile shooting in which the offending officer was found not guilty. Campbell gives reasonable advice to black gun owners who carry should they be stopped by police. He says he understands that there is a double standard for black people in America, but there are also things they can do to minimize the tension in an encounter with the police if they are carrying a firearm.
First of all when you’re stopped by the police already have your concealed carry permit and your license out and your registration to limit motion. Once the officer approaches your car idealistically we like to tell people to keep their hands on the steering wheel and in plain view. If you have other people who are riding with you also let them know to keep their hands in plain view so nothing happens.
Campbell says it is important to remember not to “hold trial” on the side of the road, but get home safely and file appropriate complaints then.
The second amendment and the black community have a complicated relationship, but Travis Campbell aims to change that by being a responsible representative to and for the community and “championing the cause”.
The entire interview with WLRN can be heard here and the South Florida Black Arms Gun Club is also on Facebook, where anyone curious can find links to the events Campbell hosts regularly across South Florida. In the month of July, the club will be hosting a “Girls and Guns” night and a beginning handgun class for women.
The South Florida Black Arms Gun Club is one of the newest chapters of the National African American Gun Association. Campbell says he’s proud to be a member and happy to represent the second amendment.
Historically as a community, we kind of shied away from exercising our Second Amendment right and to have someone within our community who’s kind of championing that cause. I think that’s very appealing for people.