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Gun ownership among Black Americans rising nationwide

ATLANTA — Tuesday night is Ladies’ Night for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Gun Club in Atlanta.

Karine Alleyn joined in 2020 and now she represents one of the fastest growing groups of new gun owners — Black women.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” said Alleyn.

She said she wanted to get a gun to protect herself and her son from home invasions.

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“It puts me in a position where I don’t want to be a victim and I don’t feel like I am a victim,” said Alleyn.

For longtime gun owners like Marilyn Cook, this growing sisterhood is encouraging.

“It’s not something you saw back in the day,” said Cook, member of the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Gun Club.

They’re also both members of the National African American Gun Association. The organization’s president, Phillip Smith, said membership jumped by more than 10,000 in 2020 alone and that was a record for the organization.

Now, the organization has 40,000 members nationwide.

“We take no apologies at all when we are handling a gun because our ancestors died for us to have those Second Amendment rights,” said Smith.

Smith said there’s often a spike in members after violent incidents like the racially motivated mass shooting at Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

Recent data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation also shows that gun purchases by Black Americans rose 58% during the first half of 2020.

But Smith said embracing the Second Amendment as a minority is a double-edged sword.

“A lot of people unfortunately in this country, when they see a person who’s Black and they have a gun, there’s an automatic negative stigma that’s attached to them,” said Smith.

While more minorities are owning guns, a recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows about 82% of Black adults say gun violence is a very big problem.

“You got kids walking around with guns on a daily basis,” said Bruce Griggs, of the Saving Our Sons campaign.

Griggs runs the Saving Our Sons campaign, which works to empower and educate young people in Atlanta. Griggs said the violence in the city has now reached epidemic proportions.

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“I try to make these kids understand when they come in my program. That one, you can’t bring a gun in here. If you have a weapon, I suggest you get some training immediately,” said Griggs.

Griggs believes more people knowing how to use a gun safely isn’t a bad thing, but he said the challenge is getting to teens who aren’t getting that training.

“We’ve got to start getting to them before they stopped smiling for the school pictures. We got to get to them early,” said Griggs. “We can’t wait [until] they show up in juvenile court — it’s too late.”

He said what’s scary is that some children feel like they need guns for protection.

“Some of these kids that I deal with, in order for them to go from school and back in their school communities — that’s to protect that,” he said.

Back at the gun range, some Black gun owners say they’re also working to be part of the solution by teaching kids gun safety.

“Instead of saying, oh, let me see it, let me see how it works. Your child already knows how it works. Your child knows that, that guns not supposed to be there,” said Cook. “And we as women, we gotta, you know, take care of our kids.”

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