African Americans and other minorities are arming themselves, fearing a continued surge in hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump in November, according to NBC News.
Four times as many minorities are flocking to gun stores, firearm business owners told NBC News. Additionally, Black gun groups such as the National African American Gun Association say attendance has doubled since the election.
Minorities “feel that racists now feel like they can attack… just because the president is doing it,” Earl Curtis, the African-American owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Va., told NBC News.
Racial tension in America had already been brewing: The election of President Obama in 2008 was met by cross burnings, racial epithets hurled at African Americans and scrawled on various surfaces, black figures hung on nooses, effigies of the president and the vitriolic rhetoric of the Tea Party. The racial temperature continued to rise as the unrepentant killing of unarmed Black men and boys by police was answered by nationwide protest and the sparking of the Black Lives Matter movement. Into that maelstrom stepped Trump, whose unabashed disparagement of Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, women and others seemed to embolden those with bigoted agendas.
Since Trump swept into the White House on a tide of hate Nov. 8, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported an uptick in hate-related incidents. Of the 701 reported so far, several include school children chanting “Build the Wall” to their Hispanic peers (referencing Trump’s promise to build a wall to prevent Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S.) or “White power;” swastikas emblazoned on minorities’ homes and public surfaces; minorities, LGBT or Muslim Americans being verbally or physically attacked and more. On Nov. 28, the Council on American-Islamic Relations also sent a letter to FBI Director James B. Comey asking for a formal investigation into a series of letters sent to mosques that threaten the genocide of Muslims across the nation and praises the president-elect.
Philip Smith, founder of the 14,000-member National African American Gun Association told NBC News that his members are buying a range of guns, from Glock handguns to AR-15 rifles to AK-47 semi-automatic weapons to 9-millimeter pistols.
“Most folks are pretty nervous about what kind of America we’re going to see over the next 5-10 years,” he said, adding that fears include those of an “apocalyptic end result where there’s anarchy, jobs are gone, the economy is tipped in the wrong direction and everyone has to fend for themselves.”
The increase in gun purchases among minorities after Trump’s victory reflect an upswing that has been reflected over the past eight years, according to research.
According to a July 2016 research paper by John Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center, the number of concealed handgun permits during President Obama’s tenure soared to 14.5 million, a 215 percent increase since 2007. The uptick, he noted, was largely driven by minorities whose permit-holding was increasing about 75 percent more than among Whites.