Mel Foster places her pistol into her holster at the Women’s Shooting Club at the Tombstone Gun Range on April, 11, 2021. Before joining the group, Foster had taken a couple of home defense classes. Foster has been taking classes for several years and is a concealed carry license holder. (Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography)
Mel Foster places her pistol into her holster at the Women’s Shooting Club at the Tombstone Gun Range on April, 11, 2021. Before joining the group, Foster had taken a couple of home defense classes. Foster has been taking classes for several years and is a concealed carry license holder.

Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography

‘More American:’ Minority Communities and Gun Ownership

May 14, 2021

Protection, sex, race and more are all reasons that women and minority communities have crossed over into the world of guns. The growing diversity of American gun ownership defies the idea of the typical gun owner. 

Marc Ford, 34, is a Black gun owner who attended the Wanenmacher Arms Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ford grew up around guns in North Carolina involuntarily before becoming a legal gun owner in his adulthood. 

“I didn’t choose to grow up around guns but they were around me for good and bad reasons. For that reason I was able to grow a liking for guns and use them in the right way,” Ford said. 

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Ford said there is a stereotype that Black gun owners are “thugs” or involved in gang violence. 

Judy Rawls checks the target at the Women’s Shooting Club at Tombstone Shooting Range on April 11, 2021. The group gets together on the second Sunday of each month and has been together for six years. There are usually 8-10 women at each meeting and in the meetings they go through drills on what to do in different dangerous situations. “When you’re walking, you want to keep at least two arms lengths because that’s how far someone can generate a lunge toward you. Those are the kinds of things we try to keep in mind when we try and keep the ladies [in the group] safe,” Rawls said. When asked about Biden’s new executive order on gun laws, Rawls said that “people who make gun laws should understand guns and I don’t think that a lot of people who are writing those laws right now understand the types of guns.” (Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography)
“I think a very common misconception is if a Black person has a gun that they’re using it in the wrong way. I think that is false on a lot of levels,” Ford said. “We are very responsible people and we know how to use guns when needed or we just use them as fun.”

Although Ford said he believes  there should be more policies set in place for gun control he doesn’t think guns should be “taken away.”

“The right to bear arms is very important. I mean you definitely want to be able to protect yourself, your family and your household. I think it’s needed. I don’t think we should have our guns taken away,” Ford said. “I think that there should be more strict laws put in place but I don’t think they should be taken away.”

According to a study done by Pew research 27% of women cited protection as the sole reason for their gun ownership compared to 8% of men citing that as the same reason for owning a gun. See more: How male and female gun owners in the U.S. compare.

The Wanenmacher’s gun show had multiple self defense booths geared towards women. They sold and advertised self defense weapons including pink tasers, bedazzled knives, and even bra holsters. 

Jenn Leah Butler, All American Oklahoma Ms, grew up learning the importance of gun safety with a strong emphasis on 2nd amendment rights in her military household.  

“I actually started out at a young age with firearms because both of my parents were in the military. So they thought it was very important for me to understand gun safety. I always knew where my parents kept their weapons, I always knew that it was locked and I always knew never to touch them,” Butler said. 

Butler said her parents taught her to have a healthy respect for firearms throughout her childhood. 

“As an adult when I was old enough to purchase my own firearms and get a concealed carry permit as a woman, as a single woman, it was very important for me to make sure that I could stay protected,” Butler said. 

Butler said events like the Wanenmacher Arms Show, are meant for responsible gun owners who respect the legal process of gun ownership and safety precautions. 

“They’re going to fill out the applications when they want to purchase a firearm. The second amendment is our rights and responsibility to make sure that weapons of any sort are safely and responsibly owned and used,” Butler said. 

Butler said gun control causes gun grabs. Gun grabs is the idea that gun owners will rush out and buy as many guns and ammo as possible in fear of getting their guns “taken away.”

“We want people to feel comfortable being able to go to a place like this. Weapons dealers are regulated by the government. There’s all sorts of laws and standards they have to abide by so we want people to be able to safely go to a gun store or gun show and legally purchase guns, instead of them all being sold on the black market,” Butler said. 

When she took a weapons safety and marksmanship course, it  was largely full of women.

“As far as safety goes I would like to be able to see women be more comfortable and more capable of being able to see a firearm and know ‘okay I don’t want to touch that unless I absolutely have to,” Butler said. “I think the more educated we can make people, especially young women, that guns aren’t scary or bad but they do need to be handled with a certain amount of respect.”

Mateo Cabeda, 23, is Mexican-American and was an ammunition vendor at the arms show. 

“Growing up we did a lot of hunting. We owned a hunting range. We would do squirrel hunting when I was growing up. Then eventually deer hunting. Now it’s become a hobby of buying guns,” Cabeda said.

Cabeda said the Second Amendment gives power directly to the people. 

“The second amendment really means drawing the line between the government and the people of having our rights to bear arms and not being controlled by the government,” Cabeda said. 

He said that when the government has taken away guns from people specifically in Latin America it has resulted in negative outcomes for the population. Cebeda said guns in the underworld and black market is a “growing issue”. 

“Every country that has [taken guns away] like Cuba or Venezuela guns just began to come in from every other country. There’s guns coming from China and the US from all different places. You might be able to take guns away from good people but bad people will always find a way to own guns,” Cabeda said. 

Cabeda’s family in Mexico has had a long history with guns. 

“I think as far as history goes my grandparents were growing up in Mexico and they were technically the cowboy gangsters. My great grandfather died at a shoot out at a bar,” Cabeda said.

Josselyn Obregon immigrated from Guatemala to the United States before becoming naturalized as an American citizen 2 years ago. Obregon owns a company called SPD Mags with her husband.

“My husband and father in law came up with a new invention of loading magazines. It took four years to develop the idea of engineering, testing and making the models. We are making this new magazine that is one hundred percent made in the United States,” Obregon said.

Obregon said gun ownership is about understanding that people have the right to be responsible for their person. She said carrying guns makes gun owners conscious of safety for themselves and others. 

“From my experience living in Latin America, communist countries are in very bad shape now because the population doesn’t have guns. Guns are only for the military or criminals,” Obregon said. 

Obregon grew up in Guatemala where legal gun ownership amongst the general population is uncommon.  She said in the U.S the idea that everyone has the right to own guns has empowered her. 

“I started becoming a gun owner when we came up with the gun magazine idea. That’s when I realized the more training and education I have when using guns means I have more safety,” Obregon said.

She said gun control is wrong and limiting. 

“There are countries like Guatemala, Cuba, Benzulas. If you don’t have guns you don’t have the power to defend yourself. When the government is big you have less power,” Obregon said.

Obregon worked as a journalist at Radio Mundo and for La Hora newspaper in Guatemala which contributed to her decision to immigrate. Obregon emphasized the lack of First and Second amendment rights in Latin America. 

“I was a journalist in my country and that was the main reason I came to the United States. The government didn’t want my ideas on the radio so I ran to the United States. They stopped free press and controlled your ideas. That is my own experience,” Obregon said. 

She said she loves America because of the guaranteed freedoms it gives to the population. 

“I feel empowered, educated and more American owning a gun,” Obregon said. 

Staff Reporter Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @odojewuyi. 

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1 Comment

One Response to “‘More American:’ Minority Communities and Gun Ownership”

  1. Robert R. Cuminale on May 16th, 2021 8:11 am

    What more can be said after what has been said in this article? The right to own a firearm is the surest symbol of freedom for a citizen. Freedom from want if we can hunt for food. Freedom from fearing others who would do us harm and freedom from tyrannical government. This last freedom is the most important of all because because because without it we can lose ALL of our freedoms.

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