African Americans account for the biggest increase in gun sales among any demographic group, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an organization that measures the purchases of firearms.
Over the first six months of 2020, gun sellers reported 10.3 million in transactions, which is a record. Compared with last year, that represents a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales.
But Black people, amid an increasing coronavirus pandemic and nationwide demonstrations over racism and police violence have represented the largest number of purchases since 2019, according to a survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women, who show a 58.2% increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year,” said Jim Curcuruto, the NSSF director of research and market development, in his report, according to Yahoo News. “Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of.”
Michael Cargill, who owns Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Tex., said that three times the number of people as normal have come into his shop, interested in firearms over the past few months and the increase in Black customers has been particularly noticeable. Once they learn the history of gun control, he says, they are more attuned to firearms purchases.
“They’re understanding that gun control first started in the 1800s … so people are realizing that every time there's a gun law that’s targeting a certain group of people, it’s usually the African-American group,” Cargill told Yahoo News. “So they’re saying, with everything going on, we’ve got to make sure that we’re legal with this firearm. We’re going to make sure we know what the law is, we want to make sure we know where we can take it, where we can’t take it.”
In a 2017 Pew Social Trends survey, about 36 percent of whites said they owned guns, compared to about 24 percent of Blacks.
Black gun ownership is not something that has emerged as a result of coronavirus and social unrest. Laws stretching back to the 17th century have attempted to hinder Black gun ownership. In 1640, a colonial Virginia law banned Blacks from owning firearms. After the Civil War, southern states also banned Black gun ownership by passing “Black Codes” for that purpose.
In 1967, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed one of the first major modern gun control measures into law in response to Black Panthers, who openly carried weapons in self defense.
One group, the National African American Gun Association, remarking on this history organized in 2015 as a response to what they feel has been denial of Black gun rights.
“Why can we not have firearms to protect our families, our children, our wives, our loved ones?” said Phillip Smith, NAAGA president in an interview last month with REVOLT.TV. “To me, that’s probably the most insulting thing that you can tell me: ‘Wait, why do Blacks need to have guns?’
“We have families, we have investments. We should be able to protect ourselves and it should be nothing wrong with that,” he continued. “That’s what the Second Amendment is all about and that’s what makes us different from any other country in the world.”