‘I’m usually looked at like I’m a Martian…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) As the National Rifle Association‘s leadership faces allegations of misconduct and Republican officials reject its opposition to universal background checks amid fear of mass shootings, a little-known gun organization for African Americans is expanding.
Phillip Smith founded the National African American Gun Association in 2015 to “establish a 2nd Amendment Organization that educates and trains our community on the rich legacy of gun ownership of African Americans,” according to the group’s website.
He started the group in Atlanta, and it has since grown to have 75 chapters with more than 30,000 members. More than 90 percent of the groups members are black, CBS News reported.
Smith was a gun-lover from the first time he fired a 9mm handgun.
“I felt free,” Smith said. “I had a chance to kind of have some power in my hands.”
He said he wants his organization to help other black Americans share in that experience.
NAAGA’s long-term goal is to “have every African American introduced to firearm use for home protection, competitive shooting and outdoor recreational activities.”
The organization includes people from all backgrounds, races, religions, and political and social views, Smith said.
“We have folks from every walk of life,” he said. “Black doctors, gay, straight, Republicans, Democrats. You name it, we have it … We’re not monolithic in why we’re all here. We have different reasons.”
60 percent of the NAAGA’s members are female.
Nezida Davis, an NAAGA member, said there is a stigma against black women shooting firearms.
“I’m usually looked at like I’m a Martian,” Davis said. “I mean, literally, if I come in and I get ready to go into the gun range, people are looking at me like, ‘Why is she here? Black women don’t shoot.’ But we shoot.”
Davis said she wants to prepare herself to defend against crime in her community as well as white nationalist and white supremacist attacks.
In addition to its Second Amendment advocacy, the group’s website also said it supports political action and advocacy on social issues within the black community.
“[W]e recognize that there are national, local, and regional events that take place that need to be discussed and in some cases aggressively corrected through legal means as it relates to our community,” said the site, which celebrates groups like the Black Panthers as being part of the storied tradition of African–American gun ownership.
“… By collectively working together with a defined strategy, we can begin correcting social injustice.” it said.