Black, armed and aware: Club provides gun, self-defense training to African Americans

Black, armed and aware: Club provides gun, self-defense training to African Americans

Paul Adell, a co-founder of the Rochester African American Firearms Association, demonstrates pistol grip technique at the at The Firing Pin gun range in Bergen. Paul Adell stood in the shooting stall wearing earmuffs atop his Chicago Bulls baseball cap. He fired a Canik TP9 Elite Combat pistol a half-dozen times, hitting a target 10 feet away with almost surgical precision. He pressed the safety on the gun and placed it on a table in the stall before turning to me and the rest of the group. “Praise God and pass the ammunition,” he said. Adell, 30, was a big Black man in his element — loading guns, sharing ammo, and dispensing shooting advice — at The Firing Pin indoor shooting range in Bergen. He shoots for sport, for fun, and for protection. The Firing Pin, a busy spot off Interstate 490 on the outskirts of Monroe County, is home to the Rochester African American Firearms Association, or RAAFA, which provides gun and self-defense training mostly — but not exclusively — to African Americans like me. The growth in the number of organizations like RAAFA in the United States has mirrored a surge in gun sales to Black people fueled by the uncertainty of the pandemic, skyrocketing violent crime, and polls showing that half of Black Americans feel they can’t trust the police to treat them fairly. These groups are not militant, their organizers insist, but are rather an outgrowth of a conclusion reached by many Black people that […]

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