In its place, gun rights supporters have found additional political allies among minority-led, pro-Second Amendment groups such as the National African American Gun Association and the DC Project, a women-centered firearms education organization that also trains domestic violence victims to safely and legally defend themselves.
Promoting self defense
AAPI GO’s co-founder, Scott Kane, 37, is White, but his wife and the couple’s 8-year-old daughter are Chinese American. Kane said he’s voted Democrat most of his adult life and never felt the need to own a gun until his family was the victim of a hate crime a year ago.
The trio was walking to a local park in their suburban, San Jose, California, community one afternoon in March 2020 when Kane says a pair of men driving a pickup truck pulled up next to them. He said the men shouted curse words and racial epithets at his wife and daughter — including “kung-flu” and “go back to China” — before spitting at them and speeding off.
“My wife was shaken up, my daughter was in tears,” Kane told CNN Business. “I just felt it’s my responsibility to find some way of protecting my family if God forbid something worse happens when I’m not at home.”
Kane said he purchased his first two firearms — a Springfield XD 9mm handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle — a short time later, just before state and local authorities ordered the temporary closure of gun stores along with other non-essential businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That’s the only thing I don’t support,” Kane said of a so-called assault weapons ban. “I agree with the spirit of what [Democrats] are trying to do. I just think there needs to be a fact-based solution.”
“A large majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (81%) say gun laws should be stricter than they are today, though the share who say this has declined slightly since 2019 (from 86%),” the study authors wrote.
NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva said his organization believes many of those first-time gun buyers are Democratic voters.
“This was something we started seeing several years ago, but I think 2020 took that from first gear into fifth gear,” he told CNN Business.
The trade group’s leaders have been meeting with the minority-led gun groups to identify issues on which they can collaborate.
“There are certain points on which the industry can partner with NAAGA and other groups where we can talk about the ability of law-abiding Americans, regardless of skin color, to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Oliva said.
“While this data is certainly striking, the conclusions from it are limited,” the study authors noted.
NAAGA says the pistol permit law is a callback to Jim Crow era black codes that allowed local sheriffs to limit or outright bar Black Americans from owning firearms, often leaving them defenseless against the racist terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and other violent White lynch mobs.
“If more guns made people safer, this would be the safest country on Earth, but that is not our reality,” Becky George, Everytown’s senior adviser of external engagement and programs, told CNN via email. “What we know would make this country safer is ensuring that gun sales go through a background check — and that starts with common-sense federal background check legislation.”
Both NAAGA and the DC Project say their membership numbers have continued to swell this year after skyrocketing in 2020 thanks largely to pandemic-related fears of rising crime and additional social unrest following the police murder of George Floyd.
DC Project founder Dianna Muller, 51, a White retired police officer, stresses that her group is non-partisan. But she also said the defund the police movement that swept the nation after Floyd’s murder caused many liberal women to purchase their first firearm, join groups like hers and sign up for shooting classes.
“The party lines just fall away when it becomes an issue of family or personal safety,” said Kelly Ann Pidgeon, a licensed firearms safety instructor and DC Project member who trains women at her Armed and Feminine gun range in Western Pennsylvania.
“We’d rather handle it ourselves”
“We’d rather not call 911 and ultimately end up being the victim,” she told CNN Business. “We’d rather handle it ourselves.”
“Historically the Second Amendment has not been one that has been supported for our community,” NAAGA vice president Douglas Jefferson said. “We plan to change that.”
Everytown concedes it’s going to be a tough fight in the Senate, but the group believes Democrats can still win.
“The vast majority of Americans support background checks on gun sales, no matter their race, political affiliation, state, or gun ownership status,” George said. “There are few issues in America that are more unifying than gun safety and it’s time our leaders in the Senate listen to the people and act.”