Growing up in Chicago, I regularly saw negative portrayals of African Americans with guns: Black men there and across the country were associated with gangs and crime, and guns were always considered dangerous in their hands. But at home I saw a positive and responsible side to gun ownership: my dad was a military veteran and a police officer. I have become a gun owner myself – one of the 24% of African Americans who report owning guns, according to the Pew Research Center. Like me, they are comfortable exercising their Second Amendment rights.
The goal of this project is to repackage myself and others towards a more positive view of Blacks and guns: to promote a more balanced archive of images of African Americans with guns by showing owners responsible weapons – those who use these weapons for sport. , hobby and protection. I hope these photos highlight this important point.
Kenneth, 35, and Tylissa Frazier, 38
“We are often arrested, so having a license will show that we are law-abiding citizens,” says Tylissa Frazier (pictured above with Kenneth), of Temple, Tex.
Marvin West, 39
West, from Killeen, Texas, says people would be surprised to know he’s an educated business owner.
Brittney Saunders, 28
“Why can other races have assault rifles and machine guns, but if black people have a handgun, we are seen as a threat?” asks Saunders of Killeen.
Asia Wragg, 35
“As a single woman with children, my priority is to protect and defend my family,” says Wragg, of Fort Hood, Texas.
Lindberg Wilborn, 32
Wilborn, shown here at Killeen holding the target he used to get his license, has owned a gun for about three months.
Damillah Lane, 26, and her daughter Skylar, 8
“Every time my husband leaves, I feel the need to protect my family,” says Lane, of Killeen.
Devin Meadows, 29
“As African Americans we have been denied so many rights, so why not take advantage of the ones we have?” says Meadows, of Copperas Cove, Texas.
Keon, 27, and Jamyce Brown, 29
“In my hometown, presenting a kid with a gun can potentially defeat them,” says Jamyce Brown, originally from Chicago, who lives in Killeen.
William Wilson, 64
Wilson, who lives in Copperas Cove, spent 21 years in the military and 22 years as a police officer. He is currently a salesperson at a local gun store.
Brothers Dorian Black, 20, left, and Ashton Black, 13, with their parents Datrelle, 46, and Rohonda, 44
“Avoiding guns entirely teaches fear,” says Datrelle Black of Killeen. “We need to educate our children about gun safety.”
Ron Harris, 32
“I own it to protect my family because I can’t afford a loss,” says Harris, who lives in Killeen.
Christian K. Lee is an Austin-based photojournalist.
Design by Christian Font. Photo retouching by Dudley M. Brooks.