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Why Some Black Americans Are Arming Themselves

Video by Sanya Dosani and



I’m a Black American. I Need a Gun to Feel Safe in This Country.

Some Black Americans never considered buying a gun. Until now.

I grew up really anti-gun. I grew up in a pretty liberal California family. I wasn’t into firearms. I was kind of opposed to them. My parents were never really into firearms. I actually really don’t like guns. But I 100% for certain will be buying a gun or two or three. Owning a firearm is important to me. When you look outside, you can kind of see that there’s a need for people protecting themselves, buying firearms, being conscious. Black people, we live in a very violent country. And this country doesn’t give us good options. I parked my bike over here to take a break real quick. Got a white guy out here pointing a gun at four Black men. Look at this. All we’re doing is standing here. This lady literally just pulled a gun because we’re out here and didn’t have reservations. Guns are dangerous. I never wanted one in my home. But a month ago, I bought a handgun and I learned how to shoot it. Right now, I need a gun to be safe in this country. We see heavily armed folks showing up at the capitals across the nation and demanding that their constitutional rights were being violated. And then we had the back-to-back murders of Black folks. We are not safe. Three years ago, I was driving with my children. We were pulled over to a stop by a police officer. And the police officer brandished a gun on me, with my children crying in the back. That was a turning point for me, understanding that the people that are supposed to take care of us and keep us safe may not always be there for us. Black America has never been safe, but we have always fought back. Black abolitionists, like Harriet Tubman, carried weapons to protect themselves from slave catchers and police. And during the civil rights movement, even activists like Martin Luther King owned guns to protect themselves. We have a cultural, historical, you know, like — Connection. — connection to firearms too. Most of the gun stores and gun ranges are owned by white people. My first experience going to a gun range, I walked out in tears because I was so uncomfortable. All eyes were on us. And people were letting us know that they didn’t want us there. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to own firearms. Right now, it’s a very key time to get you a firearm, get you some training. We’re not going to live with stigmas. We’re not going to live with fear, period. My experience buying a gun is something unique. This was actually a buildup that got me here. I’ve been fighting for gun regulation in my state for eight years. Regardless of who was in office, our lives didn’t get any better for our Black and brown communities. In fact, they just stayed the same. That’s when the realization hit. Until we have legislation and all the wrong people don’t have guns, you need a gun. When I tried to get a firearm for my house, my wife was very adverse. Like opposed. Really going out to the range, really learning about firearms was what kind of got me understanding that it’s not so much scary. It’s more a tool and it’s more protection. All Black people pretty much, we need guns to protect ourselves. Go buy a gun. Arm yourself. And just make sure you get some training. I think that’s the mentality that every African-American should have given the history and the current climate. My personal goal for gun ownership is never to hurt anyone. But if, in fact, my life is threatened, my family is threatened, I probably wouldn’t hesitate.

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Some Black Americans never considered buying a gun. Until now.

What does it take for Black Americans to feel safe right now?

For some, it’s owning a gun. Even if that’s not something they may have ever wanted to do. In the video above, a chorus of Black voices from across the country — a schoolteacher in Oakland, Calif., a political strategist in Aurora, Colo., and others — have an urgent message: “Go buy a gun. Arm yourself. And just make sure you get some training.”

This is by no means the first time many Black Americans have felt the need to arm themselves for self-preservation. But with a white couple pulling guns on Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, right-wing extremists increasing attacks and co-opting rallies to advance their own messaging and half of Black Americans already feeling that they can’t trust the police to treat them equally, some Black Americans are saying they now have no choice but to exercise their Second Amendment right.

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