Gun violence disproportionately affects Black communities, especially when including transgressions such as fatal police shootings. According to NPR, Black Americans are purchasing firearms at higher rates for self-defense or violence reduction strategies. With the increase of firearms circulating in the Black community, Ahadi Kwame Ture decided to start an organization focused on firearm safety and gun legislation awareness.
Historically, guns have played a significant role in American society. Modern national debates discuss firearm use, as gun legislation and policies vary across states and administrations. Like many public policies, different class and racial groups are variably affected by legislation. Black people have experienced marginalization via gun policy, and Black gun ownership has been affected by these policies throughout U.S. history.
Ture studied political science and marketing before graduating from Morgan State University in 2017. The 29-year-old Kenyan native relocated to the U.S. when he was five years old.
Ture founded the organization Armed & Trained Services (A&T), which provides firearm training, gun licensing and gun registration services, while seeking to improve awareness of gun legislation in the DMV area, particularly for Black people.
A&T offers courses online, as well as in person, and customers can become licensed to carry a firearm in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Utah. After completing courses, the process takes up to 60 days in most states and 90 days in the District of Columbia to become licensed to bear a firearm.
As a former elementary school teacher, Ture emphasizes that everyone has different learning styles, and that this is an important factor for those seeking to learn how to defend themselves with firearms.
“I think it’s about the right education. We know there are various learning styles and teaching styles, and some people gravitate to people they can relate to and understand. Just like driving a car: you learn to drive from someone or driving school, then get your permit or Provisionals license, then full privilege license, step by step,” Ture said.
Ture noted how many African nations in the past had access to a superfluous amount of resources, but were unable to militarily protect themselves during the age of colonialism. Additionally, he was deeply inspired by the actions of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who ultimately experienced political undermining from the California State government after Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act into law in 1967.
The Mulford Act, which was named after Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford, was a political response to the Panthers’ commitment to protecting Black communities. The Act also repealed a California law that permitted people to carry loaded firearms in public.
“I discovered Black Americans don’t have much representation in this field because we have that negative notion of firearms in our community. I said, ‘let me see what I can do’ and went through the National Rifle Association (NRA) training and the United States Concealed Carry Association’s training programs,” Ture said.
“The business [A&T] has generated nearly six figures, but it’s also challenging because people are pro-gun and anti-gun in our community. After seeing many non-Black kids shooting during training sessions, I knew I couldn’t give my daughter a disadvantage,” Ture continued.
Giffords, an anti-gun violence organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence, recently released a Gun Law Scorecard, that explores the distinctions in laws across all states in detail. Led by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, the organization seeks to inspire citizens to make America safer.
Ananda Miles serves as the media relations manager at Giffords, and shared insights on the nuances among gun laws and legislation across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“Maryland and Virginia have enacted strong gun safety laws in recent years. Virginia has made it illegal for a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to possess a gun, whereas Maryland invested significantly in community violence intervention programs,” Miles said.
Miles insists that there is an educational, generational, political or economic divide among supporters and opponents of gun ownership in the nation.
“In my experience, we can see a political divide among supporters and opponents of gun ownership. For years, the gun lobby has pushed narratives like ‘anyone who supports gun safety laws like universal background checks wants to ban all guns.’ In fact, the vast majority of Americans support gun safety laws like universal background checks,” Miles said.
Aaron Johnson, a sophomore honors biology and mathematics double major from Atlanta, Georgia, shared his opinion on gun usage in the Black community. Johnson expressed that Black people should consider protecting their families, and that Howard or DMV students can support A&T Services by becoming licensed to use firearms when they are ready.
“If A&T Services continues this good work, I can’t wait until they set up shop in Atlanta. I believe African Americans have the most cause for concern when deciding to protect themselves and their families,” Johnson said.
“I plan to become licensed when I live on my own. Reasonable people can be examples of how to properly conduct oneself with a firearm, and if I have the choice of learning from Black people, I know my pick every time,” he continued.
Miles mentioned that college and high school-aged students can best support anti-gun violence policies by taking an active role in the process.
“Call your elected officials and make it known that something needs to be done, and that gun violence needs to end. If you are of legal age, vote for candidates who support gun safety legislation. Don’t be afraid to use your voice, and stand up for what is right,” Miles said.
Copy edited by Jasper Smith