It was Malcolm X who said, among other poignant notes, that “the most unprotected person in America is the black woman.” But black women have been living this reality since the beginning of time. At this point, they have started to take it upon themselves to make sure that they are prepared and armed, literally, with the tools needed to protect themselves.
In Chicago in particular, a city that is rife with violence, more and more women are determined to stand their ground, and the number of black women obtaining concealed-carry permits is skyrocketing.
According to the Chicago Tribune, since the state of Illinois began giving out the licenses in 2014, the number of black women getting permits in Cook County has grown exponentially.
Back in 2014, about 800 black women secured a license. So far in 2017, nearly 1,400 have received a concealed-carry permit. The total number of black woman who have gotten a concealed-carry license in Cook County to date now stands at about 4,000, the report notes. Those numbers follow a national trend that has seen such numbers on the rise.
Back in 2016, John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center published a paper about concealed-carry permit holders across the nation. One of the things he uncovered was that concealed-carry has increased more quickly among black women and black people in general than in any other group.
“From 2000 to 2015, the rate of growth of [black women with concealed-carry] was 3.81 times faster than among white females,” Lott found.
The National African American Gun Association, one of many black gun groups that have seen a huge increase in their membership over the past few years, noted that women accounted for about 60 percent of its membership.
“I thought when I initially started the organization that there’d be a lot more black men joining to revisit some of the social obstacles and challenges that we have in terms of firearms, but it’s been black women that have been driving a lot of our growth, and that’s across the board,” NAAGA President Philip Smith told The Root back in May.
The women told the Tribune that for the most part, they were pushed into action by a growing concern for their safety, reasons also cited in national trends.
“I think women are finally realizing [that] we’re becoming victims out here,” Javondlynn Dunagan told the Tribune.
Dunagan is the owner and founder of JMD Defense and Investigations on the Far South Side, focusing primarily on women’s self-defense. Dunagan founded her business hoping to encourage women In the area to learn about firearms and personal safety, the Tribune notes.
Dunagan also created the Ladies of Steel Gun Club (which is a badass name, by the way) to also create a space for women to practice at a range with other women. The Ladies meet once a month to sharpen their skills, and the club now has some 31 women in it, ranging in age from 30 to 80.
“We support each other; we’re high-fiving each other,” she said of her group. “It’s like a book club.”
And despite the fact that some may argue that more guns equal more violence, Dunagan thinks that knowing that people are armed may act as a deterrent.
“I don’t believe that because more people are arming themselves, it’s going to be a more violent environment or community,” Dunagan said. “I just think that people will feel much more comfortable in their homes, and maybe the criminals [are] less likely to conduct home invasions or, I hate to say, run up on someone … if they realize more and more people are arming themselves.”
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.