A Marriottsville, MD gun club for African-Americans aims to combat youth violence in the city, NPR reports.
The Maryland Tenth Calvary Gun Club believes that teaching teens about guns can steer them away from crime.
“See, the whole shooting discipline in and of itself is behaving responsibly, and that’s what we hope to give to our youth. [Behaving] responsibly can be a lot of fun,” said Ken Brown, an instructor at the club.
According to Brown, the club teaches members about the deep history between black and guns (its name even honors the 9th and 10th Army Calvary, an African-American regiment from the late 1800′s).
“We have something that will give them a stake in this country,” he added. Per club member Courtney White-Brown, who owns a security and firearms training academy, the club also keeps black youth busy in a constructive manner
“It also gives you an opportunity for… education, scholarship activity,” Brown said.
“If these young people would learn properly, safe gun handling, and the proper use their firearms, then they would not be swayed or persuaded by the negative element.”
Of course, others think differently.
“It’s much more important to have a relationship and to be dealing with the other problems in a young person’s life, which sometimes require more than mentoring — if there are mental health issues, if there are gang issues, if there are family issues,” said clinical psychologist Dewey Cornell, who believes youth should seek out other programs instead.
Though Brown has admitted that young members who have felonies are a challenge, another member believes that African-Americans must confront gun problems head on.
“It’s up to us as African-Americans to address these issues,” Larry Smith said. ”So I know that black people can be around guns and not shoot each other.”
He also said that the community can deter the violence by developing a respect for guns, through the club.