Black Gun Ownership is Surging in Michigan Ahead of Election

The number of Black first-time gun owners is rising in Michigan, with some saying they decided to purchase a weapon over fears of a "race war" which might break out in the country, according to reports.

The amount of guns being purchased nationally has hit record levels in 2020, with the upcoming election, the coronavirus outbreak, and Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of Minneapolis Man George Floyd in late May all reported factors in the rise.

According to Bridge Michigan, scores of African Americans are purchasing guns for the first time, fueled by fears for their safety and the rise of far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, who President Donald Trump told to "stand back and stand by" during the presidential debates.

"Since the new president, there's been an uptick in people being very confrontational about race relations," Sharon Spivey-Oliver, 54, told Bridge Michigan.

She described how she and her husband both bought their first guns in April, when the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in the country.

"I've never had the experiences I'm having now. Neither one of us has ever owned guns before, but just seeing the climate made us have to think about the safety of our home."

Discussing the record rise of gun sales, Spivey-Oliver added: "I believe that some people are preparing themselves for some type of race war."

Al Williams, president of the African American Leadership Institute in Detroit, added the current political climate in the country has meant he is "walking on eggshells when thinking about what could be when it comes to a civil war."

"In Michigan, [Trump] has some really deep roots of people who have been waiting for a moment like this for decades," Williams added.

"I think everybody in Detroit and every African American should be on alert at least and preparing themselves just in case."

The rise in gun sales among Black people in Michigan arrived before members of a far-right militia group were charged with conspiring to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer as part of plans to overthrow the government.

Some of the 13 suspects are also reported to have ties to the Boogaloo movement, members of which are preparing for a second civil war in the country or the downfall of society.

After the charges were brought against the suspects, Whitmer accused Trump of giving a "rallying cry" to extremist groups by telling Proud Boys to "stand by."

"We've seen the rise in ultra-right organizations. We're well aware of the Michigan militia and that Livingston County was the seat of the KKK," Mujahid Abdul-Hameed, president of the Malcolm Little Gun Club in Lansing, told Bridge Michigan.

"We can be targeted even going to the store. I see those cars with Confederate flag license plate holders. It would be ignorant of me not to take precautions."

Elsewhere Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan's Outdoor Shop in Bay City, Michigan, described how he is struggling to keep up with the demand for guns and ammunition at his store.

Speaking to NBC 25, Duncan attributed the estimated 60 percent rise over the past few months to "women telling their husbands 'we've never had a gun, let's go look at it.'"

Duncan added that he is not surprised by the recent increase in sales.

"Not one bit. Not with the unrest we have in our country right now," he said. "The sad part is more of them are getting into this because of fear, not for the fun of it."

According to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System—the best way to measure gun sales nationally—there were a record 107,000 guns sold in Michigan in March when the coronavirus outbreak was declared a national emergency in the U.S, more than January and February's numbers combined.

In June as the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country following Floyd's death, the record was shattered again as more than 110,000 guns were reportedly sold.

In total there has been more than 759,000 gun sold in Michigan this year, vastly overtaking 2019's figure of 492,171 with three months still to go.

The trend was similar across the country. According to FBI figures, there were more than 3.9 million checks in June, the highest since records began in 1998. The second-highest figure on record, of more than 3.7 million, came in March of this year.

(File photo) Various rifles are on display at Clark Brothers gun store in Warrenton, Virginia, some 48 miles (77 kilometers) from Washington, DC on January 16, 2020. The number of Black first-time gun owners is rising in Michigan, with some deciding to purchase a weapon over fears of a "race war." EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty