Amid rising violent crime and demands to 'defund police,' gun sales skyrocket among blacks

"They understand that their safety is truly in their own hands," said Antonia Okafor Cover, national spokesperson, Gun Owners of America.

Updated: February 12, 2021 - 11:51am

Gun sales among black Americans skyrocketed by 56% in 2020, partly in response to a push to "defund police" leaving many Americans worried about protecting themselves, according to a gun expert with Gun Owners of America.

Gun-buying activity shattered U.S. records in 2020, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation recording both the highest number of background checks in its history and the highest increase of checks year-over-year in over two decades. 

According to data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 21 million background checks related to the sale of a firearm were conducted in 2020 — a 60% increase over the previous year.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association monitoring gun sales and industry trends, estimates that 8.4 million, or 40%, of those gun sales were for first-time gun buyers.

NSSF reported that women accounted for 40% of all sales, and purchases by African-Americans increased by 56% compared to 2019. 

Gun expert Antonia Okafor Cover, national spokesperson for Gun Owners of America "absolutely" thinks part of the spike among black gun owners is due to black Americans living in neighborhoods where demands to "defund the police" have left people feeling vulnerable and exposed to violence.

"They understand that their safety is truly in their own hands," Okafor Cover  told "Just the News AM" television program.

"If you're going to defend the police, then it really is going to be up to you to be able to take care of yourself and those you care about," she added.

Okafor Cover, who is black, thinks the rise in gun ownership among black Americans helps explain part of the historic gains former President Trump made among black voters in 2020 — to levels not seen by a Republican candidate since 1960.

"People finally realize that we have to have someone who is protecting our rights in the White House and in the Congress, as well on the city and municipal level and at the state level as well," Okafor Cover said. "And really, that's the only reason why the government should be there in the first place, is to protect our individual freedoms."

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) agrees the rise in gun ownership among black Americans is in part due to the push for defunding police. People of all races "have that same instinct of safety" regardless of background or culture, Owens told "Just the News AM" on Monday.

"It's a matter of what we all believe, I don't care what color we are," Owens said, pointing to troubled areas that were already high in crime that were then hit by calls to defund police. "Of course, people will say, 'Well, I want to make sure that I'm protecting myself. If I can't depend on someone else, can't depend on the police department, or whoever it might be, I'm going to make sure I'm taking that into my own hands."

Owens said that particularly as a husband and father he has a mindset of proactively protecting his family.

"We should all take that same responsibility," Owens said. "And I think that's what you find in the black community today." 

Activist Bob Woodson, who won the Presidential Citizens Medal from former President George W. Bush for his work fighting poverty and violence in poor communities, told "Just the News AM" that he thinks many black Americans blame the ongoing spike in homicides that began last year on a withdrawal of police in communities.  

Though violent crime, including homicides, is sharply rising in the United States, liberal activists continue to push to defund police departments, particularly in urban areas hardest hit by the spike in violence. For example, leaders in Minneapolis, Seattle and New York City have all recently cut funding from policing, even as a study released late last year by the Council on Criminal Justice reported homicides spiked in 21 U.S. cities in 2020.

A District of Columbia lawmaker is asking District leaders to declare a state of emergency amid a spree of deadly gun violence, including the fatal shooting of three teens so far this year in city's poor neighborhoods.

Last week, Just the News reported there have been 14 homicides in D.C. in 2021 so far, compared to 11 at the same time in 2020. 

Woodson said the reason for the homicide spike is simple: Fewer police means more violence.

"I've been saying this for about seven years, that there's a direct correlation between a police nullification, or what some call the 'Ferguson effect,' and crime and violence in these communities," Woodson said. "Because it means that the police are going to be accused of racism. Then they're not going to pursue crimes as aggressively. And as a result, the murder rate goes up."

"The numbers speak for themselves," Wilfred Reilly, an associate professor of political science at Kentucky State University, wrote in a Jan. 27 Quillette article. "The ideas advanced by Black Lives Matter may be popular and 'woke,' but they are also very often the worst possible policies for those of us who actually want to preserve black, and other, American lives." 

Woodson is leading a new coalition of mothers who have lost children due to homicide and are opposed to defunding police. The new group, called Voices of Black Mothers United, launched in a virtual press conference Jan. 29. The mothers' network is now in seven cities, Woodson said, 

These mothers "came to me," Woodson recounts, "and said, 'You know, everyone's talking about the conditions in our cities, but no one listens to us, and while they are talking about 'defund the police,' we want more police, more effective policing, and no one's listening to us.' And I said, 'Well, we'll bring you together and give you a voice.'"