Hampton Roads Black Caucus member talks gun education

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The last time I heard anything from a member of the Hampton Roads Black Caucus, it was someone saying that gun buybacks were really about showing the community that they cared, not in actually accomplishing anything.


He was honest, at the very least. Yet another member of the group is speaking up, but this time he’s talking gun education.

He was a former gang member and drug dealer. Then, he spent 25 years in the Navy before becoming a firearms instructor in Virginia Beach.

Joel Jones, who runs Strong Arms Gun Club and serves as a member of the Hampton Roads Black Caucus, is speaking up after the senseless deaths of two 25-year-olds struck by bullets in Downtown Norfolk after an argument broke out over a spilled drink.

“It’s not knowing the law that’s gonna get you in more trouble, not for things we know,” Jones said.

Jones spends his days teaching gun safety, training and education.

“Virginia is an open-carry state, meaning you can openly carry a firearm displayed or concealed carry with a permit,” he said. “You are allowed to carry a gun in a bar or restaurant.”

Something he says some people may forget or not know — the law states you can’t drink while having a firearm on you.

Truth be told, Jones isn’t wrong. A lot of people only know part of the law, if that.


Worse, people will “learn” what they can and can’t do from their buddies. As a Navy man myself, Jones will recognize the term “sea lawyer” just as well as I do, but other groups have their own version. Barracks lawyers, jailhouse lawyers, and so on, all are people who talk an awful lot about the law but rarely show any evidence of knowing more than their peers despite their confidence.

When it comes to gun education, that can be a huge mistake.

“But Tom, isn’t that kind of what you do?”

Yes and no. I discuss laws all the time, sure, and how they’re applied, but I also link other sources, address those, and try to support my arguments with evidence.

Further, I’ve got an editor (Hi, Cam!) who can, will, and has told me I’m wrong on something. As a married man, I’m used to this so I don’t get my ego shattered over it, but it also keeps me from straying into the realm of fantasy.

The random guy trying to give you “gun education” doesn’t have that.


Think about the tactical advice you’ve heard at the gun store for a bit. Yeah, carry with a chamber empty, you only need a shotgun for home defense, all of that nonsense. Now, remember that these people are also offering up legal advice.

I’m not a lawyer, but they’re absolutely clueless.

Jones is right that the stuff you don’t know may well get you in trouble. It’s imperative that you get some actual training as to what you can and cannot do with a firearm lawfully in your state.

As for drinking with a gun, even if it’s legal, don’t do it. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but apparently, some people don’t know, so just knock it off and don’t mix alcohol and firearms.


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