How To Be An Urban Gun Owner
Black city dwellers are armed, too. Here are 5 ways to pack heat responsibly.
To search the web or watch TV, you might get the impression that gun owners are all white guys living out in the country or in the 'burbs. But there are plenty of black folks, city dwellers, who own guns, too -- and legally. We're not talking about the corner dealer with the illegal .9 mm.
According to the most recent Gallup polling and data kept by Gun Owners of America, a little more than a quarter of the black population -- 27 percent -- owned guns in 2010. So, as America's lawmakers gear up for battle over the rights of gun owners and those who want to be, blacks are among those concerned about what changes to the nation's gun laws could mean for them.
Karen Ford, an African American gun owner and medical professional in crime-ridden Detroit, decided to revisit gun owner safety classes she took two years ago taught by Rick Ector, an outspoken black member of the National Rifle Association and Detroit-area gun safety instructor.
“I would like [Rick] to show me the right types of guns I can now own,” Ford says. “I’m a 56-year-old female. I was really concerned about being in the house by myself. I left [Rick’s] class feeling cocky. I feel like it’s something that every woman should take.”
Despite recent tragedies propelling new gun control measures – especially last month's elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. – Ford says she has concerns about urban crime that are just as valid as concerns raised about the random madmen who have been the perpetrators in recent mass shootings.
Ector says he couldn’t agree more.
“People who don’t live in urban areas may not be familiar with the environment that I’m in,” Ector says. “When we’re talking about areas like Detroit and Chicago, individuals should take advantage of their rights to arm and protect themselves.”
Ector, also the founder of Legally Armed in Detroit, offers the following five recommendations for city dwellers who own guns or are thinking about doing so:
1. Take a class.
Gun safety classes like Ector's help people understand the responsibility undertaken by gun ownership, as well as the care needed to keep firearms ready and in working condition. Responsible gun owners always keep their guns away from unauthorized users, Ector says. They use the right kind of ammunition to reduce the chance that they'll shoot someone and the bullet will travel through, hitting an unintended target. They also go to a shooting range at least once a month and shoot at least 50 rounds during target practice. “You should develop an unconscious competence and comfort with your gun -- the same way you do when you drive,” Ector says. Gun owners should also maintain and clean a firearm every time it’s used.
2. Talk to your kids.
Children should not stumble onto guns in the home without having had some conversation with parents about the gun’s presence, Ector says. Parents make huge mistakes in not discussing the presence of a gun in their home, and then assuming their children will not know about it or won't go looking for it. Ector recommends parents take the NRA’s Eddie Eagle approach in discussing guns with their children; that is, “Tell kids, ‘If you see a gun, stop, don’t touch it, leave the room and tell an adult.’”
3. Decide what method of storage works for you.
Keeping a loaded gun in a drawer at home, in between couch cushions or in plain view just isn’t smart, no matter how experienced an owner is. For those concerned that locking and hiding guns away renders them useless in an emergency, Ector recommends tabletop safes with key locks, thumbprint security or combination pads. There’s also the concealed carry option in most, but not all states. Ector says he carries his gun wherever he is legally allowed, but adds that it’s important to know where the pistol-free zones are in communities. Generally, churches and schools are pistol-free zones.
4. Commit to memory local, state and federal gun regulations.
With his concealed carry license, Ector can be legally armed in 39 states. But there are varying restrictions that make traveling with a weapon difficult. Do your homework. Ector recommends finding relevant rules and regulations you need to know in gun safety classes or online at credible gun owners advocacy websites.
5. Join a community of owners, which can help you stay responsible.
Ector, obviously, isn’t the only black man in all of the NRA. Joining a gun owners support group can help individuals stay up to date on regulations and get immersed in the gun ownership culture, says the Rev. Kenn Blanchard, a popular blogger and creator of the “Black Man With A Gun” podcast. He tells Loop 21 that he joined the NRA because it was one of the few organizations that understood his views on gun ownership. A former U.S. Marine, Blanchard grew up in between his parent’s home in Maryland and the rural Virginia home of his grandmother, who kept a loaded shotgun within arms' reach. “My grandmother’s shotgun kept the Klan off the lawn,” says the 50-year-old ordained minister.
Do you think owning a gun in the big city is a good idea? Tell us in the Comments!