President Obama was a boon for the firearm industry – while President Trump set off a slump in gun sales.
Except, it seems, for an unexpected group: minorities.
While gun sales have fallen in the wake of Trump’s election because Second Amendment proponents no longer feel threatened by potential federal gun-control measures, anecdotal evidence shows minority groups – including gays, African Americans and Hispanics – seem to be heading to gun stores in growing numbers to arm up.
Some minority groups, experts say, are buying guns because they fear the Trump administration could rollback some of their rights or that the divisive political environment could violently escalate.
“President Trump’s election has introduced a significant amount of uncertainty and turbulence. Whether real or perceived, many minorities feel targeted by negative language and policies which drives a desire to take one’s personal protection and security into their own hands,” Chris Cheng, the openly gay winner of History Channel’s “Top Shot,” NRA news commentator and author of “Shoot to Win,” told Fox News. “Purchasing a firearm is a logical and natural decision to increase a sense of security.”
President Obama, a staunch supporter of gun-control measures, inadvertently became the firearms industry’s top seller as sales last year hit record highs. According to statistics from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check, since the election the firearms buying trend has been on a downward spiral – for the third month in a row. The system processed 7,049,160 checks between December and February, compared to 8,473,470 in the same time period a year ago.
The most notable increase is being seen in the LGBT community.
Pink Pistols, a gay rights and pro-gun organization, has seen its national membership swell since November. Its spokesperson, Gwendolyn Patton, attributes the current spike to an “irrational FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) spread by agitators who want there to be public panic over the Trump election.”
“You can see that it is FUD because there is no actual reason for such fear coming from the Trump administration,” she said. “But because he's a Republican, and his vice president has in the past expressed beliefs regarding homosexuality that have since been debunked, the assumption is that the Trump administration bears them ill will.”
But the uptick is not solely because of Trump. Marc Whittemore, director of Gays With Guns, said that many in the gay community began buying guns because they felt defenseless after Pulse night club shooting.
“We have been growing steadily since Pulse,” Whittemore said, “so it’s hard to define it to be Trump specific.”
Terry Roethlein, communications director at the activist organization Gays Against Guns, said the LGBT increases post-election are minimal. But, Roethlein said, there are definitely those within the community who seek such means of self-defense.
“Unfortunately that is due to the fear-based lie within U.S. culture that says the only way to fight violence is with more violence,” Roethlein said. “We support sensible gun-control measures that decrease access to guns and the number of guns, which inevitably are used to harm LGBT folks, people of color, women, immigrants, and members of any other marginalized group.”
There is also an apparent gun sales growth in other minority communities as well.
Philip Smith, president and founder of the National African American Gun Association (NAAG) noted that there has been a significant uptick in membership in recent months. He said they are in the process of adding several more chapters to their already existing 26 local groups across the country.
“I wish I could say that people were joining because they want to go hunting, or shoot for fun with their families. But there is a growing concern. The election cycle racketed up a lot of racial rhetoric,” Smith said. “I get emails every day from people who don’t feel safe.”
He highlighted that not only have membership numbers spiked since November, but many more members are also obtaining concealed carry permits.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance also noted a spike specific to Somali-American men seeking self-defense gun training in the weeks following Trump’s election, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune. There is also a notable spike in gun interest in the Hispanic community – though some said other factors have played a bigger role in the uptick.
Miguel Nogueras of Chicago-based Latino Gun Owners said an increase in high crime and gun violence was the reason members Hispanics want to self-protect.
Others in the gun community are skeptical that the spikes, if legitimate, are a consequence of the new president.
Joe Meaux, CEO/owner of the Louisiana-based Aklys Defense, said that he has not seen a detectable rise in “marginalized” communities buying guns. He said none of the many dealers he works with have reported such a trend, either.
Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts and director at The Range at Austin, said sales bumps by minorities likely comes down to “fear mongering.”
“People of all lifestyles, backgrounds and positions confided in me their interest for obtaining a firearm or training because they felt the government would no longer protect them,” said. “That wasn’t two months of being in office, but eight years of an administration. I believe we will simply see more and more diversity in who is buying a gun.”
Indeed, many have pointed out that while the stereotype of the “white American male” gun owner has undergone a notable shift the past few months – it has been steadily changing for years.
“The gun community is more diverse than outsiders realize…I've seen that people who identify as LGBTQ feel much more comfortable and even embraced in the firearms community. The same goes for African Americans, Asian Americans, and more,” added Natalie Foster, host of “Love At First Shot" on NRAWomen.tv and Creator/CEO of GirlsGuidetoGuns.com. “Embracing gun rights is not about violence. It is about personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. More and more people are coming to understand that every day.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay