Black gun owners in New Jersey have pushed back against a recent concealed carry law, with one firearms instructor saying the law, like many other gun laws, targets and criminalizes minority communities, according to PBS affiliate WHYY.
The instructor, Douglas Worthen, argued that the recent legislation, which heightens requirements for gun ownership, will block black residents from defending themselves, while one of the law’s changes, an increase in fees, will further deter marginalized community members from seeking a permit, according to WHYY. The bill would require gun owners who seek a concealed carry permit to purchase liability insurance and take training courses, while also increasing permit fees and restricting guns in “sensitive places” like schools, public parks, courthouses and bars, according to the legislation.
Worthen believes the “sensitive places” restriction will block people from defending themselves outside of their homes, according to WHYY. “Black ancestors … at one point couldn’t even possess any firearms at all. The infringement on people of color in this country has been around for a very, very long time. It still exists present-day, but just has a different form.”
The New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center reported in 2022 that black and Hispanic gun owners are more likely to carry a gun outside of their home, and the new law will not only limit that ability, but also increase the cost, according to WHYY. “When [people] see these fees, they get discouraged and are like ‘you know what, I’m not paying that,’” Worthen said.
Gun purchases by black Americans have jumped over the last two years, according to a survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Leon Grauer, a Newark-based licensed attorney and organizer of the New Jersey Black Gun Owners Association, believes the increase is purchases is a response to the murder of George Floyd and a an understanding that there is a need to fend off crime in underserved neighborhoods, according to WHYY.
“A lot of people within the Black community perceive incidents, such as the killing of George Floyd, and other incidents highlighting their need for personal protection,” Grauer said. “Also, in cities that have high crime rates, particularly high violent crime rates, just as in the white community people feel empowered to defend themselves, many people in the Black community feel empowered to have a firearm to defend themselves.”
Grauer asserted that there are many gun owners in his community who value safety and regulations, further saying that the belief that those who come from marginalized communities are against guns is a misconception, according to WHYY.
“Historically, ever since slavery, firearms have been a means of self-defense and self-preservation for Black people in America. There is a perception that perhaps during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, Black people in America, en masse, put down their guns and live by a non-violent strategy, but it’s far from the truth,” Grauer said.
The state Senate voted along party lines, 21-16, to approve the legislation, which received the minimum number of votes required to clear the house. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy intends to “swiftly” sign the bill into law.
Murphy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.