The election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency has sent millions of African-Americans and minorities flocking to the nearest gun store to purchase firearms for fear that Trump’s victory could cause an uptick in racially motivated violence.
Gun shop owners said they’ve seen up to four times as many Black and minority customers looking to arm themselves since the Nov. 8 election, according to NBC News. Moreover, Black gun groups reported twice the number of attendees at their meetings since Trump won the top spot at the White House.
“[Minorities] feel that racists now feel like they can attack … just because the president is doing it,” Earl Curtis, an African-American gun store owner in Chantilly, Virginia, told NBC News.
Racial tensions were already at an all-time high prior to November’s election, with millions throughout the country still reeling from the deaths of countless African-American men and women at the hands of police and the subsequent targeting of the nation’s law enforcement officials.
Trump’s surprise win seemingly exacerbated the racial tensions, prompting over 300 acts of “hateful harassment and intimidation” committed by his avid supporters, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. Some acts also involved violence. Now, African-Americans and minorities are actively arming themselves for protection.
Gun store owners first saw a surge in sales back in October in the weeks leading up to Election Day. According to Atlanta Black Star, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System showed that nearly 2.3 million background checks for gun purchases were processed in the month of October alone. It marked the 18th straight month of gun-related background checks reaching record highs.
The deadly shooting of Philando Castile, a registered gun owner, by a Minnesota officer sparked concern in many African-Americans and left them questioning whether the right to bear arms really applied to them. This despite Black Americans’ attitudes on gun ownership having begun to shift favorably in recent years.
A Pew Research survey showed that the number of Black adults who said they owned a gun jumped from 15 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2014. That same year, 54 percent of Blacks said that owning a gun made people safer, compared to just 29 percent who said so in 2012.
The prospect of Trump winning, or even losing, the election was likely the culprit behind the surge in gun sales leading to Election Day. NBC News reported that gun corporation stocks and firearm sales saw an uptick prior to the election but fell more than 20 percent after the president-elect’s win.
Still, gun-purchase numbers shot up and store owners were taken aback by the influx of African-American and minority customers.
“They thought Trump won’t win,” Curtis said of the increase in Black gun buyers.
Michael Cargill, owner and operator of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, told NBC News he had given up on advertising to Black consumers, but since the election, they’ve been filling up his firearm training classes. Cargill said he’s seen an increase in Muslim, Latino and LGBTQ patrons, as well.
“Most folks are pretty nervous about what kind of America we’re going to see over the next 5-10 years,” said Philip Smith, founder of the 14,000-member National African American Gun Association, who noted that his members are scrambling to get their hands on any kind of firearm, from Glock handguns to semi-automatic rifles. He said people are worried about 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.”