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NAAGA president warns lawmakers on gun control

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

The National African-American Gun Association, or NAAGA, is an important voice in the gun rights debate. While they’re not as large as the NRA, they come from a demographic that anti-gun Democrats routinely feel they have locked up entirely.

As a result, the NAAGA can attack gun control from a different angle, making their voice as important, if not more, than other pro-gun groups.

So when the organization’s president warns that anti-gun efforts will retread racist laws of the past, it matters.

National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) president Philip T. Smith spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday and told them that 21st century gun control is a throwback to 19th century “black codes.”

Smith recalled “black codes” that were used throughout the post-Civil War South to prevent black Americans from owning guns and being able to defend themselves. He said, “The goal of these laws was to keep the black community under control and defenseless.”

He said, “Today, in 2022, restricting American citizens from purchasing firearms has the same effect as the black codes of 1865. The end result is people, especially black folks, are unable to secure a gun, which leaves them vulnerable. To me, that is unacceptable and un-American.”

He’s not wrong, either.

Look, I’m not a big proponent of the idea that an incidentally disproportionate impact from a law automatically makes it racist, but Smith doesn’t seem to be claiming that to be the case. Instead, he’s arguing that such laws just have a similar impact as those black codes did.

And that does have a disproportionate impact on black Americans.

Black folks are more likely to live in bad neighborhoods. They’re more likely to be the target of violent crime. They’re more likely to live in economically-disadvantaged areas.

As a result of all of that, they’re arguably more in need of access to firearms than any other demographic in this country.

Laws that restrict the purchase of firearms are going to have a disproportionate impact on the black community. That’s also the community that NAAGA is going to be focused on because that’s where their membership comes from.

I don’t blame them.

Yet the damage of such laws isn’t limited to the black community, either. They’ll create problems for people across the board, making them far more vulnerable to criminals than they might otherwise be.

As we clearly saw earlier this week, an armed citizen is a citizen who can stop violence in its tracks. We need more such citizens and we need them across all demographic groups.

Smith represents one such group, and it’s one that Democrats rely on for re-election. They would do well to remember that the stereotype of a gun owner–that he’s an old, white dude with a belly lapping over his belt and attitudes reminiscent of someone in the 1950s–isn’t reflective of the gun culture of today. Smith helms a national organization, after all, which suggests the group is a lot more than just him.

Frankly, they need to start listening.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Democrats often tend to view the black vote as their own personal plantation and think that black folks will just vote the way they’re told.

In that regard, not much has changed since the 1850s, I suppose.

My hope is that NAAGA will grow and influence the black community more and more. If they do, the truth is that Democrats are going to have to stop trying to take away our right to keep and bear arms or face losing every election between now and the end of time.

At least, they will until we start seeing pro-gun Democrats once again.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET