As the Media Research Center has repeatedly proven, journalists and networks are not friendly to gun rights or the idea that the Second Amendment applies to everyone. So, it was a surprise to see CBS This Morning on Wednesday profile the nation’s largest African American pro-gun group.
Co-host Anthony Mason introduced, “The country's largest and best known gun rights association, the NRA, is losing board members. But another lesser known gun organization is thriving.” Reporter Omar Villafranca explained that the National African American Gun Association “has become the largest minority gun club in the country. There are more than 75 chapters with more than 30,000 members and over 90 percent of the members are black.”
In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, the networks exploited both tragedies and promoted control by a 17 to 1 margin. But on Wednesday, CBS refreshingly talked to NAAGA’s founder, Phillip Smith, who described the diversity of gun owners: “We have folks from every walk of life. Black doctors, gay, straight, Republicans, Democrats, you name it, we have it. We're not monolithic in why we're all here. We have different reasons.”
Another member, Nezida Davis, informed the journalist that gun owners weren’t just white males:
I am usually looked at like I’m a Martian. I mean, literally, if I come in and I get ready to go to the gun range. People look at me like, “Why is she here? Black women don't shoot.” But we shoot.
After the report, co-host Tony Dokoupil offered a baffled, but happy conclusion of many in the non-gun-owning media: “I think any coverage of gun owners is useful. Because so many people who don't own guns, which are the majority of Americans, they are mystified by who these people are. So it’s a great window into that life.”
Kudos to CBS for reaching out beyond the media bubble. If networks would do this more often, less Americans would be skeptical of the mainstream media outlook on the Second Amendment.
A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more:
CBS This Morning
ANTHONY MASON: Democrats are working to advance gun bills in Congress in an effort to pressure Republicans and the White House in the wake of several deadly mass shootings. It’s a personal issue for many people, even those not touched by violence. Forty two percent of Americans say there is a firearm there their home, according to a Pew Research study. The country's largest and best known gun rights association, the NRA, is losing board members. But another lesser known gun organization is thriving. Omar Villafranca went to an Atlanta gun range to meet members of the National African-American Gun Association, the largest minority gun group in the country. Phillip Smith remembers the first time he went to a gun range, loaded his nine millimeter pistol and pulled the trigger.
PHILLIP SMITH: I felt free. I felt a chance to have a kind of power in my hands.
VILLAFRANCA: Smith turned that power into a passion and formed the National African-American Gun Association or NAGA. The first chapter was in Atlanta.
SMITH: I didn't think I'd get more than 30 people.
VILLAFRANCA: In just five years, NAGA has become the largest minority gun club in the country. There are more than 75 chapters with more than 30,000 members and over 90 percent of the members are black.
SMITH: We have folks from every walk of life. Black doctors, gay, straight, Republicans, Democrats, you name it, we have it. We're not monolithic in why we're all here. We have different reasons.
VILLAFRANCA: Why not join the NRA?
SMITH: Well, the NRA is good for some people that are having that perspective. Our perspective is for black folks.
VILLAFRANCA: Nezida Davis joined NAGA to learn how to protect herself, and she's not alone. More than 60 percent of NAGA members are black women.
NEZIDA DAVIS: I am usually looked at like I’m a Martian. I mean, literally, if I come in and I get ready to go to the gun range, people look at me like, “Why is she here? Black women don't shoot.” But we shoot.
VILLAFRANCA: After black churchgoers were targeted in Charleston in 2015 and the recent shooting in El Paso targeting Mexicans, members say they're prepared to defend themselves. Do you feel that in this political climate that white nationalists are emboldened to go after minority groups? And you need this protection?
DAVIS: I do. Like I said, even though I generalize this not just crime in our communities, but it's also a white nationalist. I do believe they are emboldened. Yes, I want to be armed. I'm not going down without a fight. So, I look at it that way. So by being able to protect ourselves by training properly and getting our practice in and learning how to defend ourselves, at least we will be able to fight back if we are attacked from white supremacists or white nationalists.
VILLAFRANCA: NAGA promotes the Second Amendment and social justice. But Smith says he's aware of the dangers of being black and legally armed in America. He pointed to the Philando Castile case in Minnesota where Castile, who was licensed to carry a gun was shot and killed by a police officer during a 2016 traffic stop. NAGA immediately condemned the shooting. While Smith points out other prominent gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association did not.
SMITH: Them not speaking up says more to us than anything. Are you in agreement with that? I — I couldn't be silent. Tears came out of my eyes when I heard this brother got shot. If you're an organization that wants to get black folks to back you up, that's the best way. Speak out when you see injustice. Don't sit there silently like you don't know what's happening because we're a very intelligent group of folks.
VILLAFRANCA: The group is talking about getting political and endorsing candidates, which could make them a political force. But they're not there yet. It's something they'll discuss at their first national conference next year. For CBS This Morning, Omar Villafranca, Atlanta.
GAYLE KING: That video of the Castile shooting is very, very painful and difficult to watch. I thought he raised a good point. We're speaking out against it. The NRA had nothing to say at the time when the shooting made national news.
VILLAFRANCA: 30,000 members. They could be a political force.
DOKOUPIL: I think any coverage of gun owners is useful. Because so many people who don't own guns, which are the majority of Americans, they are mystified by who these people are. So it’s a great window into that life.