SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Paul Oliver, the owner of Oliver Arms in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is having a very good year. Business is up and customers are happy.
“We prefer it to be more of a normal steady pattern of sales and that’s what we’ve experienced before and after the election,” Oliver said.
Oliver saw a slight bounce in sales after the November election. He also saw his minority clientele increase as several of those customers signed up for his concealed weapons permit classes.
“We’ve had a fairly consistent growth pattern of some of the minorities in our CWP classes,” he said. “It has not been fairly dramatic either way, but we’ve seen a steady growth.”
But for the Atlanta-based National African American Gun Association, the interest has been overwhelming. NAAG President Philip Smith started this group in February 2015 and now has more than 14,000 members across the country. A surge of new members joined over Thanksgiving weekend.
“We saw 1,000 members joins our organization in just four days,” Smith said. “Those are big numbers. For some organizations that’s not very much but for us, that tells us that something is going on.”
Smith believes that something is Donald Trump. In the days following his election, the Southern Poverty Law Center says more than 700 incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence against minorities were reported. Some of those assailants even invoked Trump’s name as the attacks were being committed.
“That combined with the emails and phone calls I have gotten 24/7 since Trump’s election, lets me know that there is a climate real or perceived where people are saying ‘you know what, I’m not feeling safe,” Smith said.
There is little data showing a racial breakdown on gun ownership, but according to the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of whites own a firearm. Only 19 percent of blacks do. Sales of guns across the board have increased since 2003. Smith says his focus is on responsible gun ownership and advocacy. His organization already has thirteen chapters in several cities and is poised for further growth.
“I see us having literally five or six chapters in every state,” he said. “I see us having a very active membership, having a political arm as well.”
Here at home, Oliver says he’s pleased to see more non-traditional gun buyers.
“Our programs are reaching out to more and more groups. I guess that would probably be the way I view it,” Oliver says. “They want to have the option of self-preservation and protecting themselves and loved ones.”