Remember when people said that gun owners were really just a bunch of old white men? To be fair, there was more than a bit of truth to that. While it wasn’t universal by any stretch, a very large chunk of gun owners could be described in just such a way. Such was the way it was.
Those days may not be over, but they may be close to it.
Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen people from all walks of life flocking to gun stores in an effort to purchase their first firearm. Gun sales are exploding.
And one of those groups buying guns is about as opposite of “white man” as you can get.
Valerie Rupert raised her right arm, slightly shaking and unsure as she aimed at the paper target representing a burglar, a robber or even a rapist.
The 67-year-old Detroit grandmother squeezed the trigger, the echo of her shot blending into the chorus of other blasts by other women off the small gun range walls.
“I was a little nervous, but after I shot a couple of times, I enjoyed it,” said Rupert, among 1,000 or so mostly Black women taking part in free weekend gun safety and shooting lessons at two Detroit-area ranges.
Black women like Rupert increasingly are considering gun ownership for personal protection, according to industry experts and gun rights advocates.
Fear of crime, especially as shootings and murders have risen in cities big and small, is one driver of the trend. But a new motivator is the display of public anger in the last 15 months beginning with confrontations in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin.
“We’ve seen such an increase in white nationalist violence,” Webster said. “Some combination of the lack in faith in police protecting you and hate groups has motivated a lot of Black people to arm up.”
Black firearm owners still represent a relatively small portion of the gun-owning population, with 9.3 percent of gun owners being Black men and 5.4 percent Black women. Nearly 56 percent of US gun owners are white men. Over 16 percent are white women, the Newtown, Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation says.
Of course, those demographics are estimated because we don’t actually keep data on that, nor should we.
However, what I find amusing is how the media thinks this is news. Really, it’s not. Black women have been gun owners and bought guns for protection since shortly after they became free citizens. They’re as much of the reason the Klan backed gun control as black men with guns, after all.
This isn’t new. It is, however, growing, and it should.
Look, if you believe white nationalist violence is increasing and you’re the kind of person a white nationalist may want to hurt, it’s absolute stupidity to pretend you also have no reason to carry a gun. Especially if you don’t trust the police in general. I mean, I do trust most police officers, and I still carry a gun because even in the best of circumstances, they can get to the scene of an altercation just fast enough to draw a chalk outline around my body.
I’d prefer it not to get to that point, and it seems these women do as well. They’re smart to do so.
One thing this growing gun ownership among groups like black women will do is likely force the Democratic Party to rethinking their vehemence for gun control. After all, if they keep pushing it, they may push away key demographics they count on to be elected. That would be such a shame for them, right?
Either way, I welcome these women to the ranks of gun owners and look forward to seeing some of them at the range.