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Black and Female Gun Ownership on the Rise

Photo by Martin Kirigua via Pexels

The number of Black and female firearm owners has drastically risen in recent years amid growing fears of violence and police brutality.

The number of Black and female firearm owners has drastically risen in recent years, amid growing fears of police brutality and gun violence in Black communities.

A recent study conducted by the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center found that being a woman, having a higher level of education, and more experiences of discrimination, made Black adults more likely to own a firearm. Michael Anestis, executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, said that the results were only "somewhat surprising."

Anestis attributed the recent shift toward increased gun ownership among women and people of color to the "frequent highly publicized episodes of police brutality against Black men and women and the surge of gun violence witnessed across the U.S." during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the study's lead author Allison Bond noted that "experiences of racism and systemic inequalities" were likely influences.

Targeted mass shootings may be another likely explanation. After a white shooter killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket in 2021, Black Americans like Michael Moody rushed to take greater measures to protect themselves. "A lot of us have the same idea. It’s getting bad when someone specifically targets Black people to shoot," Moody told NBC News. "We have to be prepared to fight back. And you can’t survive bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

In 2021, a survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) found that over 90 percent of gun retailers saw an increase of Black men purchasing firearms, and 87 percent saw an increase for Black women. Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans also showed similar increases. Nearly 46 percent of gun buyers asked for information on safety training, but only 23.6 percent of new gun owners actually signed up for it.

The authors of the gun violence study also warned that Black gun owners reported far more suicidal ideation than those who didn't own a gun, and urge for their findings to be used in advocating for increased suicide prevention and gun safety measures. “Individual and system level prevention and intervention efforts are needed to combat racism, increase firearm storage among the Black community, and connect those at risk for suicide with evidence-based mental health care," Bond said.

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