AUSTIN, Texas - As Texans prepare to loosen gun restrictions on September 1st, the founder of the gun group, Black ATX Tactical, is making sure people in the Black community know about gun safety.
Black gun ownership in 2020 increased by 56 percent, according to the Firearm Industry Trade Association, and now some Black gun owners are looking for ways to not only normalize owning guns, but also make sure their community stays safe.
Brandon Antone, the founder of Black ATX Tactical, tends to his urban garden at his North Austin apartment.
Antone tenderly waters his basil and veggie plants, pruning the leaves and taking a few moments in nature. "I just want to give [my garden] love," Antone says during a garden break from his tech job. "It’s juxtaposed to what I do at the gun range, you know I'm a gardener; also a warrior."
Call gardening the yin to his yang.
"The political climate last year, people bought a bunch of firearms but nowadays people are not training as much," Antone said. "It’s not just about Black gun ownership, I like to emphasize it, but it’s for everyone and I think showing people out here that look like me, we normalize it more."
Antone is on a mission to put guns in the hands of those you may not be used to seeing holding them.
"Some of my white friends, they got me into this," Antone says, preparing for his next shooting exercise. "I learned from them and I realize that within our culture, whether it is for political reasons or just a stigma [gun culture] is just something we’ve kind of lost."
He says stereotypes only lead to misunderstandings and loss of what he calls black gun culture.
"Seeing a Black kid with a gun, Black adult, whatever it may be, it just became a symbol of like this is this person is a thug, this person is up to no good," Antone says. "But you look back decades ago in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Black people owning firearms whether for hunting or self-defense, especially during the Civil Rights movement, it wasn’t just non-violence, it wasn't just sit-ins, it was also the fact that we could defend our own communities."
Through training, education, and shooting practice, Antone says gun ownership is about constitutional rights.
"I know we live in a time where there’s gun violence, there’s mass gun violence and there is, but there’s also a lot of miseducation with the information as well," Antone says as sounds of bullets fill the gun range. "I just want to change that and just make sure that people, someone like me, that works in technology or friends of mine that are bankers or maybe single moms, we’re just normal people like anyone else and we should be able to exercise our right just like anybody else"