As NRA membership wanes, America’s largest black gun group is thriving


The country’s largest and best known gun rights association, the NRA, is losing board members amid a spate of deadly mass shootings. But another, lesser-known gun organization is thriving: the National African American Gun Association, the largest minority gun group in the country.

The group was founded by Phillip Smith, who fondly remembers the first time he fired his 9 mm pistol at a gun range.

“I felt free,” Smith said. “I had a chance to kind of have some power in my hands.”

Smith formed the first chapter of the National African American Gun Association, or NAAGA, in Atlanta.

“I didn’t think I’d get more than 30 people…” Smith said. But in just five years, NAAGA has started 75 chapters with more than 30,000 members, over 90% of whom are black.

“We have folks from every walk of life,” Smith said. “Black doctors, gay, straight, Republicans, Democrats. You name it, we have it … We’re not monolithic in why we’re all here. We have different reasons.”

When asked why the members didn’t just join the NRA, Smith said that “the NRA is good for some people that are having that perspective. Our perspective is for black folks.”

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