As stated in my biographical and demographical information, I am an African American male, in my mid twenties. Because of this, some of my friends have questioned whether it is wise of me to go to gun stores and ranges. These friends were concerned that, due to my race, I would face discrimination or violence in these gun-related locations. Since I have heard so many people voice this concern to to me, I thought I would describe my experiences as a black man who frequents 4 Chicago area gun stores and shooting ranges:
Gun Store/Range Employees
I have found the employees and owners of the four Chicago area gun stores and shooting ranges to which I have visited to be good people who are quite helpful. In each of the stores or ranges, the employees have gone above and beyond to help me with gun related questions/issues. For example, the Gunsmith at one store re-mounted and bore sighted a scope on my Ruger 10/22 after it came loose while I was at the range. I wasn’t charged for this, despite my offer to pay. At another gun store, the Gunsmith completed the porting of my Remington 870 barrel two weeks sooner than he had quoted, and took the time to discuss a variety of gun related topics with me. I haven’t experienced any race-related issues at any of the Chicagoland gun stores or shooting ranges I have visited.
Gun Store/Range Customers
The customers I have met at the gun stores and gun ranges were just as friendly as the employees. We’ve discussed guns, politics, and other hobbies. We have traded guns for a few shots too. Customers who were on their way out but had leftover targets have walked over to me and offered their extra targets to me, and I’ve returned the favor when I had extra targets. At a trapshooting range, one kind person showed me the basics of trapshooting, and even let me borrow a proper trapshooting shotgun (since my shotguns at the time were not ideal for trap shooting).
In short, I have found the 3 gun stores/ranges, and one trapshooting range to be filled with good people, both employees and customers. My friends’ concern that Chicago area gun store employees or customers would have a problem with me because of my race was misplaced. The gun store/range employees and customers are not racist and trigger-happy, but are instead the same good people I would encounter at the movie theater, in a restaurant, or at work. I hope this article helps assuage any similar fears that African Americans may have about going to gun stores and shooting ranges in the Chicago area.