National African American Gun Association: law-abiding, necessary – The Philadelphia Tribune


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Most people would be shocked to know that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a license to carry one of the several guns that he kept for self-protection and family protection at his home, which was described by an eyewitness as an “arsenal.”

And as reported in the Miami Herald in 2016, Charles E. Cobb Jr., a former field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and author of “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible” stated, “If you went to King’s (Montgomery, Ala.) house in 1955 or 1956, there were guns. When they bombed his house in 1956, his first instinct was to apply for a gun permit ...”

In that same Miami Herald article, Adam Winkler, UCLA law professor and author of “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” noted, “There is nothing in the history that suggests the Martin Luther King felt that guns weren’t useful for self-defense. Clearly, guns were used to protect (King) ... (He) could not rely on the government.”

Guns were used by the Deacons for Defense, which was founded in 1964 in Jonesboro, La. to protect against attacks by the KKK. In fact, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration points out that the Deacons for Defense was “made up of Black veterans from World War II who believed in armed self-defense. About 20 chapters were created throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama ... (They) provided protection for people participating in protest marches in Mississippi in 1966, including the March Against Fear that began on June 5 when James Meredith marched to rally Blacks to exercise their recently won rights resulting from passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

The Deacons for Defense, which essentially acted as a Black militia as “militias” were defined by the drafters of the Second Amendment in 1791, understood the necessity of protecting against state-initiated, state-sanctioned, and/or state-condoned racist brutality. Not much has changed since (and certainly before) 1964. That’s precisely why Black men and women in 2021 and beyond must protect themselves. The outcomes would have been much different for James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman in Neshoba County, Miss. in 1964, for James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas in 1998, for the nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015, for Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Ga. in 2020, and for hundreds (if not thousands) of other Black folks since the 1960s alone if they had been as prepared as the Deacons for Defense were.

I’m prepared. Very prepared. And that’s only because I recently joined the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA). At the outset, I must state NAAGA’s No. 1 rule as set forth in its Ethical Code of Conduct:

Members may NOT engage in activities that OVERTLY promote violence toward any members or the public ... Members may NOT engage in verbal discussions or statements advocating any acts of violence toward police, military, and/or government officials. Members may NOT engage in verbal discussions or statements advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Violations of this Ethical Code of Conduct will not be tolerated and will be grounds for immediate termination of the violating member ...”

On its website, NAAGA meticulously sets forth the history of gun ownership in America by exposing the fact that, even before the founding of this country, gun ownership rights were made freely available to everyone- except Blacks. In fact, even before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “Starting in 1751, the French Black Code required Louisiana colonists to stop any Blacks and, if necessary, beat ‘any Black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.’” Moreover, “If a Black refused to stop on horseback, the colonist was authorized to ‘shoot to kill.’”

This enlightening website also discloses that “When the first U.S. official arrived in New Orleans in 1803 to take charge of this new American possession, the (white) planters sought to have the existing free Black militia disarmed and otherwise exclude ‘free Blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms.’”

It wasn’t until around the mid-1960s, following nationwide abolition of Black Codes ordinances and laws that Blacks finally joined whites in being able to freely own firearms.

On Sept. 2, I interviewed Jerel Crew, president of NAAGA’s Philadelphia chapter, along with his lovely wife Karise Crew, founder of “That Gun Talk” (which actively promotes NAAGA’s mission), and asked them the following questions and received the following responses:

1. Why was NAAGA founded?

“It was founded to provide African-American gun owners with an organization that zealously represents their community and perspective, that thoroughly trains them to safely use firearms, that effectively teaches them the history of Black arms in the United States, and that comprehensively makes them aware of pertinent state laws relating to firearms.”

2. What can people expect when they join NAAGA?

When you join, you will become a part of “the most unique brotherhood and sisterhood in the history of the firearms industry. You will be able to interact, meet, and train with African Americans learning to safely and lawfully shoot a firearm. This is an experience that has never been made available in such a detailed manner to the entire African American community.”

3. If there was one thing about NAAGA that you could say to the public, what would it be?

“NAAGA isn’t monolithic and African Americans who join are very diverse. We have doctors, nurses, lawyers, college professors, teachers, police officers, military personnel, secretaries, and others. We have members who rich, poor, straight, gay, etc. Everyone is accepted and respected for who they are. We are the firearms organization of the future.

For more information about NAAGA’s national chapter, log on to And for more information about NAAGA’s Philadelphia chapter as well as “That Gun Talk,” email [email protected] or log on to

In the profound words of Malcolm X, “I don’t call it violence when it’s in self-defense. I call it it intelligence.”

And in the profound words of Michael X, yours truly, “Be intelligent.”

Michael Coard, Esq. can be followed on Twitter, Instagram, and his YouTube channel as well as at His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD 96.1 FM or 900 AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCAM/Verizon Fios/Comcast.

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