Like many African-Americans of his generation, Phillip Smith, a Californian in his 50s, grew up without a gun in the house. To his parents, gun ownership was not just politically unacceptable, but morally wrong – a fount, if anything, of trouble and tragedy.
When he moved his own family to the South in 2002, he found a different tradition, where black families, many of them fresh from the farms, had hunting rifles for sport and, to an extent, self-defense. Mr. Smith was intrigued. As he bought his first guns and began practicing at a gun range, he had an epiphany: Perhaps the Second Amendment is the black man’s ultimate sign of full citizenship.
Smith’s crossover into the world of guns and ammo makes him part of a widening attempt to, as he says, “normalize” a black gun-carrying tradition fraught with historical pain and tragedy.
His advocacy for African-American gun rights has turned out to be a potent message. The National African-American Gun Association he founded has grown from 800 to 20,000 members since 2015. Unlike the primarily white and male National Rifle Association, NAAGA is diverse in both color and gender; 60 percent of its members are women. (Christian Science Monitor)