Still, many black folks are not boastful gun owners—even in states where they can openly carry.
“Black people still aren’t very social about their firearms,” [firearms instructor Mel] Atkins told The Daily Beast. “Our state (Michigan) allows me to walk around with a firearm on my hip or strung across my shoulder as long as it’s visible to everybody. Black people never do that. Only damn fools and maybe some Republicans ever do that. And black gun owners are very quiet about it, because historically a black gun owner could get in trouble for it. There’s that stigma attached to it, that I’m going to get hassled by law enforcement for the mere possession of a firearm.”
NAAGA chapters have tried to battle the stigma and raise the visibility of black gun ownership in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd. In Minneapolis, Louis Dennard, president of the Twin Cities NAAGA chapter, led a team of six armed members to patrol and protect blocks with a church and black-owned businesses after the recent curfew was imposed. A little over a week ago, Stephen Alexander, president of the Lansing NAAGA chapter, gathered with 50 other members from Midwestern chapters. They stood, armed with a diversity of guns outside the Michigan state legislature, just a couple of weeks after a group of armed white men gathered to protest the governor’s Stay at Home orders.
“What happened to George Floyd is symbolic and demonstrative of what happens to us,” Alexander said. “We wanted to send the message that if we can’t look to the police to protect us, we have to understand that our personal safety is our personal responsibility.”
– David Dent in These Terrified Black Americans Are Packing Heat