Since Donald Trump’s win last month, hate crimes nationwide have surged, and so has the number of people of color buying guns for protection. According to an NBC News report, some gun store owners have seen a four-fold increase in minorities inquiring about and purchasing firearms in recent weeks. Earl Curtis, an African-American and owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Virginia, told a reporter that many people of color believe “that racists now feel like they can attack . . . just because [Trump] is doing it.”
According to NBC News black gun groups are reporting double the normal number of attendees at their meetings since the election.
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, gun ownership by blacks is less than half that of whites, 19 percent vs. 41 percent. Yet attitudes are also changing: 54 percent of blacks saw gun ownership as more likely to protect people than put them at risk; two years earlier, it was just 29 percent.
In 2014, 54 percent of blacks surveyed by Pew said gun ownership does more to protect people from crime than put people's safety at risk, versus 29 percent who said that in 2012, almost double. White attitudes also shifted more positively towards gun ownership during that time but not by as much, up 62 percent from 54 percent.
Michael Cargill, the owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, told NBC News he had given up on advertising to African-Americans — but now he's seeing as many as 20 a month, and they're filling up his training classes; along with Muslim, Hispanic, and LGBT patrons with heightened worries about being targeted.
Black gun owner groups are seeing an uptick too, led by African-American women. They report receiving an increased number of emails from across the country from concerned minorities looking to learn more about gun safety, training, and firearm access.
Philip Smith, founder of the 14,000-member National African American Gun Association said his members are buying up every kind of gun, from Glock handguns to AR-15 rifles to AK-47 semi-automatic weapons — though most first-time buyers gravitate toward a nine-millimeter pistol or .38 revolver. He said that twice the usual attendees have RSVP'd for the next meeting of the Georgia chapter, which he heads.
"Most folks are pretty nervous about what kind of America we're going to see over the next 5-10 years," he said. That includes members apprehensive about protests against Trump becoming unruly, as well as 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." They don't know who might be busting down their door at 2 a.m.
Racial tension was already at a high during the election, with a spate of videoed shootings and deaths of black men by police officers followed by ardent protests. From Ferguson to Chicago to Baltimore, African-Americans feel targeted and angry, sending marchers into the streets and communities on edge.
And Donald J. Trump's surprise victory in November has done nothing to abate the racial violence — it even seems to have encouraged more open displays of hatred. More than 700 instances have already been reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center just since November 8, and LGBT hotlines are seeing an "all-time peak" in calls from people reporting harassment.
Swastikas have been found spray-painted on churches, playgrounds, and college walls. White Texas high school students chanted "Build that wall" during a volleyball game with a predominantly Hispanic rival school.
The post-election gathering in Washington, D.C., of the National Policy Institute, an "alt-right" white supremacist organization ended darkly. Attendees gave the Nazi salute as the final speaker called out "Hail Trump!" and "Hail Victory!" It was an English translation of the Nazi "Sieg Heil!" cry.
"It's best that I be proactive," said Scott, a fiery 49-year-old financial analyst. "I know where I live."