Posted on July 14, 2022

Black Gun Owners Have Mixed Feelings About the Supreme Court’s Concealed-Carry Ruling

Alana Wise, NPR, July 13, 2022

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to guarantee the constitutional right of people to carry firearms in public spaces for the purpose of self-defense has become a complicated issue for Black Americans.

Last month’s ruling infuriated the Democratic Party, which had vowed to make meaningful efforts to control gun violence after recent mass shootings.

Black Americans overwhelmingly vote Democratic but have emerged in recent years as the fastest-growing demographic of gun owners.

“There is an increasing group of Black people who are looking to gun ownership for a variety of reasons, including a feeling of being almost abandoned by the state for protection,” says Kelly Sampson, senior counsel and director of racial justice at the gun safety organization Brady. “In a country that’s supposedly governed by the rule of law, that is a real issue.”

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on June 23 was its first on firearms in more than a decade.

The case successfully challenged New York’s “proper cause” law, which said that individuals seeking concealed carry permits must demonstrate an active need for protection, rather than a general desire for self-defense.

Sampson points to the 2016 case of Philando Castile, a Black man who was pulled over for a broken tail light, told the officer that he was licensed to carry a firearm and was reaching for his wallet when he was shot and killed by police.

“We live in a society that codes Black people in general as criminal but especially when we carry arms,” she says. “So when you strip away all of the rhetoric around the Second Amendment, you still can’t get away from the fundamental issue that we live in a country where Black people are disproportionately dying from gun homicides, and Black people also are disproportionately impacted by police violence. And one of the rationales that police will use when they perpetuate this violence is that a person had a gun.”


Although whites buy about 55 percent of firearms, gun purchases by Black Americans rose 58.2 percent in the first half of 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation {snip}


The National African American Gun Association boasts 30,000 members, predominantly of African American descent but across a range of ethnicities. Sixty percent of its members are women.

Tracy Brown, an artist and activist, is one of those women. She says that even though she’s a proponent of safe gun ownership, she has mixed feelings about the Supreme Court ruling.

“It means that more women will have the opportunity to get firearms in the interest of self-defense and protecting themselves. But you know, it’s such a complicated issue, especially for Black people,” she says. “There are a lot of very unhealthy perspectives held by those who typify the gun-owning population in this country.”


Jabir Asa also pointed to the historic disarmament of Black people as to why he supported the Supreme Court decision.


Asa is the minister of social media for the Cleveland chapter of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club – so named after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. {snip}


“We see an uptick in unjustified fascist violence against members of our class, walking into churches, shooting black people, walking into supermarkets in Buffalo shooting black people, kids in Uvalde, Texas,” Asa said.

“So while we’re not explicitly looking to carry out violence against anyone, we are very much going to respond to any violence escalated against us with the appropriate response in self-defense, as is our constitutional right.”