It’s no secret that these are tumultuous times and that many Americans of all walks of life feel less safe for a variety of reasons. Just one viewing of an episode of Dateline will show that tensions are high at home and around the world. In many communities, this is spurring citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights in order to defend themselves against any potential threat.
This story from theguardian.com, reports there is a movement across the country of more black women learning to use firearms and organizing shooting classes.
The story says Marchelle Tigner of Lawrenceville, Georgia had to schedule more classes for Atlanta-area black women to learn to shoot beginning in February. “This is a movement, and it starts now,” Tigner told her students, the story reports.
“The movement, she said later, is not more and no less than ‘black women learning how to shoot, and purchasing firearms,’ and it’s happening in cities across the country.
“Tigner, who lives in Savannah, Georgia, sensed that there was pent-up demand when she launched Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction in November. She found the Bullseye firing range near Atlanta and offered the class through social media, hoping for 20 students. But the class sold out in two days, so she expanded it to 40. Another class scheduled for 4 March sold out to 40 students in 24 hours; a third class for 30 on 18 March sold out in 30 hours; and so did a fourth on 19 March. Tigner’s now got classes scheduled through the end of May, including several in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“She said she’s surprised at the response her classes have received. ‘The growth of these classes – I never expected it,’ she said. ‘It shows me how unsafe these women feel in their communities.’”
The story also profiles Tiffany Ware, 44, of Cincinnati, Ohio who founded the Brown Girls Project, which offers makeup workshops and other activities for building self-esteem in young black girls.
In December, the story says they organized a group of black women for a firearms training class and the quickly exceeded capacity and wound up with a waiting list of 45 women. So, they held another class a few weeks later, and subsequently had to organize monthly classes as the list grew to more than 100 names.
Down in Dallas,Texas, the Black Women’s Defense League, which launched in 2015, has seen the number of black women sigining up for slots at local ranges double in the last 10 months, the story says.
“I can confirm that more African American women are learning to shoot,” said Kenn Blanchard in the story. He is the author of “Black Man with a Gun,” a gun ownership manual, and is based in Maryland. “I’m getting emails from places like Pennsylvania, Arizona, saying: ‘Hey Kenn, these seven ladies were shooting—look at their scores.’ That’s never happened before.”
Ware says she has concerns about growing racial tensions in the country, telling The Guardian that before last year, “I had heard the N-word, in person, twice in my life.” She says in the past year she’s “heard it five times.” Once , “it was a guys driving by in a car—they shouted at a bunch of black girls and threw something out the window.”
She called these incidents “disheartening,” adding: “I had never not felt safe before. Now, it felt different.”
Ware said, after the November presidential election, she and her girlfriends and others started connecting online, found a black male instructor in the areas, and began organizing classes for her friends first, and then others later.
“It’s almost like I accidentally fell into this movement,” she said in the story.
Niecee X, one of the founders of the Black Women’s Defense League in Dallas said in the story that, “there’s never been a time where there hasn’t been a repression of black gun owners,” referring to the many gun laws that came into being in the late 1960s as a response to groups like the Black Panthers legally arming themselves and carrying openly in public.
Niecee X said her “ability to protect my family outweighs by fear” of any pushback, the story says.
The NRA, the nation’s largest gun rights group, said in the story that it’s well aware of the movement and they’re all behind it, though it’s unclear if they plan to directly support it in the near future.
“From the NRA’s perspective, it’s an awesome trend,” said Jason Brown, media relations manager for the gun rights lobbying group. “NRA is not an old white guy’s party. There’s never been a better time to show them, ‘You are not shut out of this lifestyle.’”
The NRA has enhanced its focus in recent years on outreach to women, including it’s recently rebranded “Armed and Fabulous” program, which began running ads last year featuring Dana Loesch and others highlighting the problem of violence against women.
The Guardian also spoke to Antonia Okafor, the southwest regional director of Students for Concealed Carry, who is the only black woman scheduled to speak at the NRA’s annual meeting, which begins tomorrow and goes until April 30 in Atlanta.
“Okafor, who’s 27, said she has been called an Uncle Tom, adding that ‘black women are … my biggest critics.’ At the same time, she said: ‘People don’t know me, or how I came to my beliefs.’ She sees the growth in interest in firearms among black women as part of an increasing interest among women in general. ‘My experience comes more from being a woman and being empowered through my gun.’
“But reaching potential black gun owners will require overcoming a historical divide between the NRA and many African Americans. ‘The NRA has a bad name in the black community,’ Niecee X said, echoing some of the other black women who are organizing shooting classes.
“She said that the organization doesn’t ‘reach out to the black community when things have happened.’”