Shannon Watts repeatedly posts on Twitter that NRA members and Second Amendment advocates are mostly white, male and middle-aged.
Watts, one of the founding members of the Bloomberg-funded gun-control group Moms Demand Action (MDA), often tries to sell this point by posting videos and pictures showing white, male, middle-aged gun-rights supporters. She does not, of course, post pictures and videos of gun-rights supporters who don’t fit that description. And if a person of color should mention supporting their constitutional protections to her, Watts would probably respond with her usual mock-and-block tactics.
Ignoring everything else for a moment, it would be easy to “prove” in exactly the same cherry-picking way that MDA is “mostly” made up of white, female, middle-aged women exactly like Watts.
To address Watts’ point directly, people of every color and gender can be found in the Second Amendment community. As a recent video of NRA members at the last Annual Meetings and Exhibits shows, Watts is wrong.
“The Second Amendment does not see color,” said John Malloy, a black man who attended a massive pro-Second Amendment lobbying event in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 20. “It’s a right. If it gets taken away, everybody loses.”
“It was the most-polite place I have ever been, literally,” said Princess Kuevor, a black woman who drove from Ohio to the same event. “We were shoulder-to-shoulder, but people said ‘excuse me’ and did their best to get out of the way, and it was so calm and quiet, I could have had a phone conversation walking through the crowd.”
Asked whether it bothered her to be a minority in the crowd, she said, “I didn’t think anything of it. There are different activities that appeal to different people for different reasons. You see a different crowd at a basketball game than you do at a hockey game, or at a rock concert than a gospel concert. Whatever—they grew up hunting, in that lifestyle, so that’s going to be normal.”
If Watts were honest about race and guns in America, she’d be asking who is working to empower individuals, and who is looking to disempower them?
Racism and oppression do play a significant role in gun control. Focusing just on U.S. history, early gun-control laws were designed to keep the power of firearms away from black people. That’s why prominent black leaders like Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) and Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) argued in favor of firearms so all people could be free.
Frederick Douglass famously said, “The best work I can do, therefore, for the freed-people, is to promote the passing of just and equal laws towards them. They must have the cartridge box, the jury box and the ballot box, to protect them.” This is still true today.
Gun rights are civil rights. That’s why there have been people of color protesting draconian new gun-control laws here in Virginia. That’s why there are increasing numbers of pro-Second Amendment groups arising in minority communities. That’s why concealed carry permits for women rose 101% faster than for men, and black women made up the fastest-growing group of concealed carriers in the states that report permits by race. That’s why the numbers of Asian and Native Americans seeking to arm themselves are rising as well, as the same study shows. And that’s why Orthodox Jews have started carrying firearms in response to violent racism.
The NRA leads the way in teaching all American citizens to empower themselves, with more than 110,000 instructors, 6,300 coaches and 2,200 training counselors teaching courses like Refuse To Be A Victim and Women on Target.