Gun sales increase among Black Americans—is 2020 to blame?

Stephon Johnson | 10/29/2020, midnight
It’s a Second Amendment right to bear arms and Black Americans are exercising that right in 2020.
Gun/violence Image by mullannix930 from Pixabay

It’s a Second Amendment right to bear arms and Black Americans are exercising that right in 2020.

According to the most recent survey from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association, there’s been a 58% increase in gun purchases by Black Americans when compared to 2019.

As of August, NSSF officials said there were close to 5 million first-time gun buyers in 2020.

When asked to provide reasons for the increase, NSSF Director of Public Affairs Mark Oliva said it came down to protection.

“Safety,” Oliva stated. “People are concerned with their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones and want to exercise their second amendment rights that were granted by our constitution and our creator.

“It’s a right granted to us by our creator and the constitution,” continued Oliva. “It’s not a white right. It’s not a Black right. It’s not a blue-state right. It’s not a red-state right. If you’re a law-abiding American, you should have the ability to exercise your Second Amendment rights.” The National Rifle Association echoed similar sentiments.

When the AmNews contacted the NRA, no particular person wanted to comment, but the organization sent a statement saying that “regardless of their color or tax bracket—[people] usually buy firearms for the same reasons: to hunt, target shoot, or defend themselves and their families.”

In 2019, the most recent survey from the Pew Research Center showed that 30% of American adults personally own a gun and 41% of American adults said they lived with someone who owns a gun. Sixty-four percent of women favor stricter gun laws when compared to 55% of men. Protecting gun rights versus restricting access to guns is politically divisive with 80% of Republicans deeming the former more important and 79% of Democrats choosing the latter.

But no matter the debate, Black Americans are arming themselves more in 2020.

Chad King, president of the Black Bottom Gun Club in Detroit, said his group has expanded from 53 members to 200. King believes that the increase in Black gun ownership is complicated.

“The reasons for the increase in gun ownership by Black Americans is varied,” said King. “I believe that 2020 has shown itself to be the biggest reason to own a firearm, regardless of who you are or what you believe. That said, gun ownership among Black Americans may have spiked this year, but it has been growing steadily over the past 5 years at least. I think this is primarily due to organizations like the National African American Gun Association that have chapters across the country doing the work to demystify firearms and help reaffirm the Black Tradition of Arms in our communities.

“We are reclaiming a right that our ancestors were denied—as a matter of legality—but practiced anyway,” added King.

So is the climate of 2020 the reason or not? National African American Gun Association President Philip Smith said that Black people are finally “maturing” enough to exercise their Second Amendment rights. But he did admit that this year’s events have played a significant role in sales.

“The racial tension within the USA is getting worse with police shootings, mob violence, racism and legal injustice in the courts,” said Smith. “These factors are the second reason [for] a dramatic rise in gun ownership within the African American community. African Americans are now becoming self-reliant on themselves to provide protection and security for their communities. We must look out for each other…

“Lastly the development of COVID-19 flu was the ‘game-changer’ because it affected everyone and everything,” continued Smith. “When it first hit we didn't know anything…if there was going to be social order breaking down, food shortages and mob violence…in short it made people decide very quickly that they needed to have a firearm with the threat of these things across the country.”