Black women are taking up arms in unprecedented numbers. First-time gun buyers since 2019 have been more likely to be Black and more likely to be female than gun purchasers in previous years, a finding that aligns with surveys of gun sellers, the Washington Post reports. Gun sales spiked across all demographic groups during the coronavirus pandemic, and remained high through the protests after the police murder of George Floyd, the attack on the U.S. Capitol and other events that many saw as signs of a nation in chaos. The National Rifle Association and the gun industry have long exploited such fears to boost sales of firearms and weaken the laws that restrict their use.
Scarred — sometimes literally — by the firsthand consequences of gun violence and disenchanted with decades of urban gun-control policies that they regard as ineffective, some Black women are embracing a view long espoused by Second Amendment activists: that only guns will make them safer. The development could upend the gun-rights debate, traditionally seen as pitting largely White rural and suburban firearms owners against city residents, many of them Black, whose elected leaders have pursued strict gun-control policies. Nearly three in four 4 U.S. gun owners are White, said a new study published by Harvard University researchers. While gun ownership has been common in rural Black households, the surge of interest in firearms among urban Black women alarms experts on gun violence, who point to a large body of research correlating gun possession with a greater risk of violent death. Rates of suicide, the cause of most gun deaths, go up with a weapon in the house, as does the likelihood of accidental death and murder by another household member. “There is no category of violence where we have evidence to show more firearms increase safety,” said Prof. Shani Buggs of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis.