Dear Culture

Black AND Armed — The pro gun movement for Black people: Damon Finch

Episode 84

Read the full transcript here.

Black gun ownership is rising and this week on the Dear Culture Podcast, our hosts, theGrio Social Media Director Shana Pinnock and theGrio Managing Editor Gerren Keith Gaynor break down the new surge and talk to Black Americans who are changing the way we think about legal gun ownership. 

From 2019 to 2020, background checks for guns rose 77% according the FBI. It turns out more and more Black Americans are looking to exercise their second amendment right to bear arms. The National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) said that at one point last year, they were seeing 2,000 new membership applications daily. Damon Finch, the Northeast Regional President of NAAGA said his organization’s mission is to create a safe space where Black Americans can learn to properly handle and train with guns as well as connect with other Black gun owners.

rifle gun
Lateif Dickerson handles one of his rifles at his gun instruction headquarters on March 25, 2021 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“We were taught after slavery that it was not OK for us as people to defend ourselves. We were taught that if we were together, collectively talking about protecting each other, we were considered a gang,” said Finch. “The history of firearms in America really stemmed from the point that, just like any species, you need the tools necessary to defend yourselves or history will always repeat itself. 

While Gaynor says he supports the right for Black Americans to legally own firearms, it is his personal choice to steer clear of guns, citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal history and ultimate disavowal of guns as an ideological reference. 

“I don’t want to own the gun really ever, and I take the position more of, MLK. Some people might not know that MLK, while he advocated for civil disobedience and nonviolence, he was a proponent for guns and then changed his mind,” said Gaynor. “I might not be pro-gun, but on a policy level, I support it because, if white people can own guns, so should Black people and we should be able to bear arms in the same way that white people do.” 

Black Militia Group Holds March In Louisville
Grandmaster Jay (center) leader of NFAC leads a march of his group and supporters on July 25, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

In a different world and another reality, Pinnock would not choose to own a gun, but violence against women in recent days especially and the uptick in anti-Black violence has made her consider owning a gun as a source of protection. 

“I will be applying for a gun license as well as a concealed carry license. And my two reasons are one, because I’m a woman into because I’m a Black woman,” said Pinnock. So, my goal is to get educated on guns. I don’t need to own an AK-47 or anything like that. Give me a cute little baby gun I could put in my purse and I’m good. In all honesty, I admire gun owners from the perspective of, again — you’re not here to just own a bunch of these guns that can kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. No, no, no — you’re here for the education of gun ownership; you’re there for protection of your family and protection of your person. So, I’m all for it.”

To hear the incredible conversation in its entirety, including more on the long, complicated relationship between gun ownership and Black Americans, tune into the Dear Culture Podcast. 

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