Times, and gun ownership, are changing. Much to the chagrin of those who oppose lawful gun ownership, it is becoming increasingly difficult to paint the stereotype of today’s gun owner as pale, male and stale.
The firearm industry has always said it: the Second Amendment is colorblind. The right of law-abiding Americans to buy and own firearms is for everyone. For many in the media, that notion is unthinkable. If they were paying attention instead of projecting an antigun agenda, it wouldn’t be surprising.
Out of the Woods. Into the Gun Store.
National media has a history of broad-stroking the American gun owner as an “old, white guy.” Scientific American, asked, “Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?” President Barack Obama caricatured rustbelt and Midwest voters for “clinging to their guns.” David Chipman, former Giffords gun control front man and President Joe Biden’s failed nominee to become Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), likened the country’s millions of new gun owners to “Tiger King” and mocked them as zombie apocalypse preppers who “hide their guns behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky.” The labels are tired. More importantly, they’re flat wrong.
An NPR reporter in New Hampshire visited a group of LGBTQ Americans “inspired” to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The reporter, Todd Bookman, visited the group Rainbow Reload that sees firearms as important to their members’ safety and self-defense. That is, after all, the foundation of the Second Amendment in the first place.
The group’s organizer said, “If the world is dangerous, then you have to be dangerous back. And that very much has pushed me into where I am now.”
Bookman described how the gun club offers experts and those interested in gun ownership an opportunity to practice handling and shooting firearms in a supportive environment. The group practiced target shooting with pistols, shotguns and even AR-15s, the Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) so often maligned as “assault weapons” by gun control groups and politicians. Recent events, including a rise in threats of violence, defund the police policies and soft-on-crime prosecutors, have led these law-abiding Americans from being antigun to “gun curious” to gun owners themselves.
Another member of the LGBTQ community stated simply, “We have the ability to protect ourselves. We’re fools for not doing it.”
Diversity in Lawful Gunowners Nothing New
The gun-owning community has always been welcoming. Buying a firearm comes with inherent responsibilities and providing education, training opportunities and advice to new gun owners – no matter what the reasons are behind the purchase – are obligations existing gun owners take seriously.
Chris Cheng is a competitive shooter who won History Channel’s Top Shot championship. He’s also a member of two minority groups that have been victimized – he’s Asian American and a member of the LGBTQ community. Speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing in 2021, Cheng told senators why he opposed further restrictions on gun rights and why he encourages his fellow community members to become gun owners.
“We don’t have to look any farther back than the 1992 Los Angeles riots and Koreatown,” Cheng said. “They called the LAPD for help and the LAPD was under-resourced… So what did they do? Korean-Americans utilized their Second Amendment rights and took their own personal firearms and protected themselves.”
Fast forward to only a few months ago to when the underfunded Los Angeles County Police Department told the victims of crimes to “comply and cooperate” with the criminal perpetrators.
“If I can’t have law enforcement there, then it is a rational conclusion that individual citizens like myself would opt to utilize my Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm and use that firearm in lawful and legal self-defense,” Cheng said.
During the COVID pandemic, NSSF industry data showed Americans from all walks of life were prolific lawful purchasers of firearms. In 2020, African-Americans bought firearms by 58 percent greater rate than 2019. Hispanic-American purchases rose by 49 percent and Asian-American purchases rose by 42 percent. Women accounted for roughly 40 percent and African-American women were especially active gun buyers. The NPR report cited data showing roughly 21 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people live in a house with a firearm, compared to 36 percent of heterosexual adults. Those numbers, including a Pew study on partisan gun ownership, are likely on the low end, as many gun owners are reluctant to speak openly about firearm ownership. Still, the data reaffirms the lawful gun-owning community has never been more diverse.
Proof In The Polling
Lara Smith, spokeswoman for the national group Liberal Gun Club, spoke at SHOT Show® 2023 and said, “Unicorns do exist, and liberals can be gun owners, too.”
Many minority groups, including African-Americans and members in the LGBTQ community, tend to vote Democrat by large margins. The Second Amendment, however, isn’t a partisan right. It’s a right of all Americans and these nontraditional gun-owning groups are embracing their right to buy and use firearms in increasing numbers and are building bridges that are reflected in public polling.
Opposition to national bans on commonly-owned firearms, specifically the MSR, has never been higher with a majority of Americans opposed. Numerous polls show swings away from more gun control and to policies that affirm gun rights, but also, separately, hold criminals accountable for their crimes.
For all the talk today about Americans being divided, one thing seems clear. Americans from all backgrounds and demographics agree that gun ownership is a common right that transcends politics and demographics.
About The National Shooting Sports Foundation
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org