A recent article at The Root breathlessly reported on a study that revealed skyrocketing gun ownership and concealed carry permits among black women. The report from the Crime Prevention Research Center discovered that from 2000-2015 the rate of growth for concealed carry permits among black women was 3.81 times faster than that of white females.
Politically speaking black women aren’t traditionally associated with gun rights but the author shouldn’t have been so surprised. They are out there and I should know. I’m black, female and I own a gun. I’d own a concealed carry permit too if I didn’t live in the People’s Republic of Californiastan.
My own intellectual shift happened when I was just a young mother, living with my husband and two small children in the middle of a midwestern ghetto that I will decline to name. It doesn’t matter. The point is that we lived in a place where gang activity and poverty were rampant and law enforcement was sparse. I always swore I would never keep allow a weapon in my home…how barbaric!
But then my husband left for a job that took him from us for four months. As I helped pack him for his departure I looked around our home with multiple entrances, huge windows and giant vulnerabilities. We had been having a rash of violent, gang-related home invasions on our block.
“I think I need a gun.” I said, shocked to hear the words out loud.
And so I got a gun and I learned how to use it. The first night of training class our instructor, Deb – a stereotypical and proud redneck woman with a mullet and dressed entirely in denim- asked each of us to explain why we were there. I timidly told her I didn’t want to be there, that I didn’t like guns and that I felt like a hypocrite for being there. She told me, “Honey, you’re mother and considering where you live you’d be a fool not to give yourself every advantage to protect your children. That’s what mothers do.”
That’s why Lott’s report doesn’t surprise me in the least. Like me, many black women around the country are discovering that a weapon is the great equalizer. With low marriage rates, high incarceration rates for black men, and an epidemic of single-parenthood black women are often left as the head of their household and they’re tired of being afraid. When it comes to our children nothing is off the table.
The first thing I did after signing up for weapons training was to sincerely research the history of the second amendment. Not only was I taken aback by how much I had wrong about its origins and purpose, but I was intrigued to learn how gun control was at the front lines of oppression.
Women of grit, steel and virtue across the centuries in this country have relied on weapons for their very survival. Harriet Tubman always carried a pistol on her Underground Railroad missions, sometimes for protection against slave owners and sometimes to help “convince” spooked escapees not to turn around and head back to the plantation. How many people would have died were it not for her finger on a trigger?
This is our legacy as black women. We have always been inclined to protect ourselves from nefarious forces in this country. It has only been at the hands of government that we’ve been forced to give up our protection. Gun control is rooted in the dark racism of this country. Even after slaves were freed to live as Americans, laws like the “Black Codes” prevented them from protecting themselves against bitter ex-slave owners and the hideous enforcement wing of the segregationist Democratic party of the time, the KKK.
In the 1960s government stepped in with welfare programs that came with all kinds of strings attached and the result was to once again disarm families with the added horror of making the black father and husband in the home nearly obsolete to this day.
Some women quoted in the post at The Root claimed that rising racial tensions have prompted them to get trained and armed.
“I have three young adult sons,” said Manning, “and the only thing I could think of was, ‘Oh, my God, are we getting ready to go back to those times?’ And there’s no way in the world that I could see my sons being pulled out of my house.”
While I don’t share these fears (courtesy of a thorough reading of our great Constitution) this is an argument I frequently make for curbing gun control. This is exactly what the second amendment was created to protect us against – not only the threat of personal violence but also against the threat of a hostile government that might once again enact laws that prevent certain people from living free.
Whether it is to protect oneself against domestic violence, crime or government aggression, for black women and women in general owning a firearm is the great equalizer and a no-brainer.
No surprise here.