As books like We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement demonstrate, armed resistance has a rich history in the African-American community. The slayings of nine black people at Emanuel AME in Charleston may’ve revived that tradition.
According to Reuters, “a growing number of African-Americans across the United States have changed their position on firearms in recent years, breaking with a long tradition of gun control advocacy among blacks and embracing the kind of pro-gun positions that are more widely held by whites.”
Even before Charleston, the trend among African-Americans was growing in favor of owning guns:
From an NPR article published in April:
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of blacks now see gun ownership as a good thing, something more likely to protect than harm. That’s up from 29 percent just two years ago. In places like Detroit, more African-Americans are getting permits to carry concealed weapons.
And “the level of African American support for gun control has fallen by 14 percentage points since 1993, when it stood at 74% according to the Pew data,” Reuters found.
African-Americans Respond to Killings by Arming Themselves: 54 Percent View Gun Ownership as a Good ThingClick to tweet
African-American gun advocates say they are left with little choice but to arm themselves:
In some cases, that attitude has led – as it has with some white gun owners – to deliberately provocative displays of gun rights. At the Huey P. Newton Gun Club in Texas, formed last year after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, members participate in open-carry displays during demonstrations against police brutality.
Club co-founder Darrin Reed, who is also a member of the New Black Panthers, said more blacks are arming themselves now then in the past because the government and police have shown “they’re not able to keep drug dealers” out of African American communities.
“They failed to protect the black community,” he said.
Reuters interviewed a black account executive named Horace Augustine who said he’d been thinking about whether to buy a gun for protection ever since Charleston. Augustine’s mother strongly forbids guns in her home as she views them as prohibited by her faith. Augustine, however, wants to buy a gun to protect the church he attends.