Wednesday, April 14

Social crisis, political violence: in the United States, African-Americans tempted by firearms

The sun has only been up for two hours and the heat is already overwhelming. In the middle of the desert mountains of Kagel Canyon, California, half an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, a few men take refuge in a makeshift tent to protect themselves from 45 degrees. In the distance resounds the whistling of bullets. In a cloud of dust, pick-ups park on a piece of land in the Angeles Shooting Ranges.

Lattice, bulletproof vest and weapons slung over his shoulder, Jonathan Solomon, a 37-year-old African-American, who has privatized the place, welcomes the arrivals. All of them paid 100 to 150 dollars (83 to 125 euros) to take a firearms training course with him. Mostly male, the group of twenty-five people, aged 15 to 65, includes – with one exception – only blacks. An identity claimed by some on their T-shirts, flocked with messages like “Black Vibe” or a closed fist representing Black Power.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has again made African Americans aware of the danger that the state can represent. »Adam Winkler, professor of constitutional law

“The course is open to everyone: Whites, Blacks, Greens, aliens … It’s just that when it comes to weapons, African Americans generally feel more comfortable when they are accompanied by someone. one of their community. We are more patient when they ask questions, we don’t demean them when we correct them, as is sometimes the case elsewhere ”, explains Jonathan. Since the start of the pandemic, demand has jumped and the instructor offers two and a half more classes per month. “With unemployment exploding and the lack of money, people began to think that it was better to be prepared to defend themselves if they were ever attacked in their homes by desperate people. ”

The economic crisis and social tensions that set in after the death of George Floyd on May 25 have increased the feeling of insecurity, pushing the Americans to arm themselves. Since the start of 2020, more than 32 million requests for background checks (a prerequisite for any firearm purchase in the United States) have been sent to the FBI. A record since 1998. However, if the owners of firearms are predominantly white – 36% of them own weapons against 24% of African-Americans and 15% of Latinos – blacks would have been the most many to equip themselves: + 58% compared to last year, according to a survey carried out by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a lobby of the arms industry in the United States.

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