Deborah Roberts grew up in a family of gun owners. But it wasn’t until March this year that the 68-year-old finally pulled the trigger and purchased her own firearm.
“I think the rhetoric and how things are stirred up in the country just made me feel like, if not now, then when?” Roberts told CNN on Sunday morning at the South River Gun Club in Covington with gun shots ringing nearby.
It was Ladies Day at the range, an event put on by the National African American Gun Association’s Atlanta chapter. More than a dozen women, some for the first time, came out to work on their shooting and learn about firearm safety — and to have fun doing it.
All but one of them is African American.
They’re not alone: Amid a recent nationwide surge in gun sales, these women are part of the growing coalition of gun owners that is increasingly made up of people of color, experts say.
About 40% of gun buyers in 2020 purchased a firearm for the first time, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group that compares the FBI’s background check data with sales data.
Customers are increasingly diverse. Surveys last year showed a 58% increase of African American gun buyers in 2020 compared to 2019, NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva told CNN, more than any other racial group.
“Today’s gun buyer is shattering tired and worn-out stereotypes of who owns a gun,” Oliva said in an email. “Today’s gun owner is younger, includes more women, more minorities and doesn’t just look like the rest of America. They are America.”
‘They want training’
Philip Smith, president of NAAGA, said his organization has seen “dramatic growth — probably well over 58% in the last year.”
“We’re buying guns in bunches, all over the country, at the same time, day in and day out,” he told CNN.
NAAGA is seeing about a thousand new members every month, Smith said, and they come from all walks of life — plumbers, mechanics, teachers, doctors and lawyers.
“They want training,” he said. “They want education.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Ryan Young, Dakin Andone and Pamela Kirkland