(Poltico) When coronavirus lockdowns spread nationwide in March, millions of Americans flocked to their local grocery stores and wholesale markets to stock up for what would become months stuck at home. Black Americans did the same, but some had one addendum to their shopping list: a firearm.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been growing interest among African Americans in arming themselves, as evidenced by increased membership in Black gun owner organizations.

That interest ballooned in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which reignited debate about public safety and the role of police in Black communities. Sensationalized stereotypes about Black Americans and guns, however, are also being used by critics of the anti-racism protests to justify a security crackdown in urban areas, many with large Black communities.

Philip Smith, president of the National African American Gun Owners’ Association, said his organization’s annual membership has increased by much as 2,000 new members per day — a figure he used to see annually. His organization has grown to more than 30,000 members this year and has an online following of nearly 90,000 people.

The influx of interest in gun owning — and seeking membership in Black gun owner organizations — began as soon as the pandemic set in. Fears of a damaged economy, disrupted supply chain and slow-moving federal response inspired people to take up arms.

"If you have a half a brain in your head even saying, 'Oh, this might get serious, let me plan accordingly," Smith explained.

The Floyd protests, he added, were a “line in the sand” for many of his new members. Leaders of other Black gun ownership organizations echo this response, saying the spike owes to a range of concerns many Black Americans have.








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