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Freedom For All

Freedom For All

Photo credit: Tony Clapp Photography

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.   

“Uncle Tom. Sellout.”

I am sorry to start off with such abrasive phrases, but these are words that have been thrown at me since my “Freedom’s Safest Place” spot hit the airwaves. And I heard them all again after “Black America” learned I was featured in a video promoting pro-gun values. 

Harsh? Maybe, but it’s a sad reality. I began my gun-rights activism journey by becoming the southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry in an effort to change what it looked like to be a gun owner. I started a similar journey a few years back when I left the Democratic party and became a freedom-minded Republican. 

My background is likely different than most gun-carrying women you know. For one, my father did not get me into firearms—he was in prison most of my life. I grew up in a single-parent home with no guns in my house and no discussions about the right to bear arms.As a millennial who regularly speaks with students on college campuses, I am happy to report that my generation is 7 percent less likely to support gun control than our parents are. 

My interest in preserving our Second Amendment-protected rights came just a few years ago, when a father figure introduced me to the beauty of hunting. In fact, the first gun I owned was a Remington 870 Express shotgun. 

The reality is that people who look like me are starting to get it. For the last five years, black women have been the fastest-growing demographic among minorities in my home state of Texas. Women now make up 23 percent of the gun owner population nationally—a substantial increase from years past. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my activism is hearing from people who have been affected by my commentaries.

“You certainly changed the argument for me as a young black woman, and I know you can do that with a larger audience.” 

Being a campus-carry activist, I believe that college campuses are the next frontier of the gun-rights movement.“I just wanted to let you know you are an inspiration as a fellow Second Amendment-loving minority conservative.” 

The first comment is from a young, liberal black woman; the second from a conservative Hispanic man. Both understand the need to be able to protect oneself with a firearm, and why every American should fight to preserve that right. 

As a millennial who regularly speaks with students on college campuses, I am happy to report that my generation is 7 percent less likely to support gun control than our parents are. It makes sense to me. We are a generation who grew up seeing Columbine, Virginia Tech and other massacres, and saw politicians immediately call for more gun control in response. Yet students continue to live and study in fear. Regardless of personal ideology, students have seen that gun-free zones simply do not work. 

Being a campus-carry activist, I believe that college campuses are the next frontier of the gun-rights movement. These massive gun-free zones throughout America have kept people like me in harm’s way for far too long. I plan to continue fighting for the right of every student who is able to carry a firearm while off campus to also be able to protect themselves while on campus. 

When it all comes down to it, factors like race, gender, sexual orientation and student status are not true indicators of who is guaranteed the right to self-defense. What we fight for as NRA members is based on one unifying principle—that self-defense is a human right, plain and simple. 

Antonia Okafor is a Second Amendment advocate and the southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry.

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